A dramatic new immersive exhibition featuring over 40 painted papyrus scrolls opens at the Horniman this winter.
Every scroll tells a local life story through a series of painted symbols representing key chapters in the life of each contributing Londoner. Suspended from the ceiling, the scrolls float within a soundscape interspersed with the voices of their makers.
From Birth till Death: Scrolled Life Stories can be seen from Saturday 5 December 2020 to Sunday 14 March 2021 in the Horniman’s contemporary arts space The Studio.
The exhibition places the life stories within larger questions about who we are today. The scrolls tell the stories of Londoners whose families have lived here for generations and recent arrivals seeking a better life. These are the everyday stories of resilience, joy and heartache that are at the centre of all our lives.
Visitors are invited to walk among the scrolls to learn about the lives of others, and to consider their own life stories and legacy by creating their own scrolls in a template provided, either in the exhibition space or at home.
From Birth till Death: Scrolled Life Stories is the result of a collaborative social arts project partnership between the Horniman’s Community Learning Team, artist R.M. Sánchez-Camus and select community partner organisations St Christopher’s Hospice, Arts Network, Three Cs, and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust’s Health Inclusion Team.
The scrolls are a full timeline of a living person’s life, from remembered past to an imagined future. The work was created in collaboration with artists through participatory workshops where contributors to the project created a visual timeline, sketching out symbols for the main events in their lives and exploring how that story might be shared with a public audience.
'Bringing local community voices into a gallery exhibition is an important marker of validation for those who are often not seen or heard yet carry rich and important experiences we can all learn from. The Horniman has a rich collection of objects that tell the story of who we are as people on this earth and this exhibition contributes to that collection with the life stories of present-day Londoners.
‘Our personal collection of life stories make up the museum of self, continuously archived throughout our life. Each of us is a micro-museum, carrying the history and stories of the times we live in. And what better way to know ourselves than by understanding others'.
'The Horniman is constantly looking for inclusive ways to bring more voices into museum spaces. From Birth till Death: Scrolled Life Stories tells engaging stories, honours people living locally and encourages new conversations.’
The project was supported with funding from the Arts Council’s National Lottery Project Grants, the Horniman and St Christopher’s Hospice.
From Birth till Death: Scrolled Life Stories is on display at the Horniman from Saturday 5 December 2020 to Sunday 14 March 2021. Entry to the Horniman, and to From Birth till Death: Scrolled Life Stories, is free, however, visitors (including Members) need to pre-book a timed slot via the website horniman.ac.uk to enter the Museum. The Museum and the exhibition has a one-way system for safe distancing and there will be extra assistance for those who need more support, plus ways to interact digitally. Starting in January, the exhibition will also have participatory workshops held by community volunteers for members of the public.