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‘Making’ takes centre stage in Horniman’s immersive exhibition

Visitors to the Horniman Museum and Gardens are invited to step into a new installation where all the artworks have a story to tell about design, techniques and materials, and where visitors are invited to ‘make’ as part of the show.

The Horniman’s new exhibition Stages of Making,opening on 19 October 2019, turns the tables on conventional museum exhibits. Rather than being solely focused on finished works, it places the materials, acts and processes of making things centre stage.

Stages of Making is co-produced by a collective of nine local community members working with artist Katie Schwab, who have taken inspiration from the Horniman’s anthropology collection, the design history of the Horniman site and its stores. Exhibits are displayed at various points of production – from different materials, many sourced locally, and experimental samples through to completed works including a large rag rug – with the surrounding walls painted in colours referencing the palette of a geological timescale in the Horniman’s Natural History Gallery.

  • Making the rag rug, Stages of making, Robbie McKane
    Stages of making, Robbie McKane

Everything displayed in the exhibition is either made from repurposed materials or sourced with care; environmentally-friendly paint is used on the walls, composite plastic table-tops are made from yogurt pots, refrigerator trays, electrical fuse boards and medical packaging, excess materials have been sourced within the Horniman and more than 750 used t-shirts have been woven into the rag rug

The making of the rag rug, by the Collective and members of the public visiting the Horniman over the summer months, is captured in a film exploring the methodology of ‘chaîne opératoire’ – a technique used in anthropology and archaeology to understand the physical actions and social processes involved in making an artefact. Visitors can watch the film while seated on the rug itself.

Visitors can also take part in making something to add to the growing ‘archive’ of samples in the exhibition, by joining daily Making Time drop-in sessions.

  • Wire weaving sample, Stages of Making, Wire weaving sample, Stages of Making, Robbie McKane
    Wire weaving sample, Stages of Making, Robbie McKane

The Collective members say:

We want to create a space at the Horniman where people can come together to experience making in a collaborative way and to think about the value and sustainability of materials and the objects around them and their own relationship to these.

 Anila Ladwa, Studio Curator at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, says:

It is fantastic to have an arts space within the Horniman where diverse people and artists have opportunities to work together with museum staff and with access to the collections, to develop public exhibitions. The Collective members have thought about sustainable everyday living and have brought together their different concerns, knowledge and skills to create an exhibition that resonates with the Horniman’s own concern about human impact on the environment.


Stages of Making is free to visit and will be open in The Studio from 19 October 2019 to 19 April 2020.

Making Time free drop-in activities in The Studio will be daily from 10.30am to 4pm from 19 October 2019.