Dotted Line Theatre tell us about 'Stories of Ganesha', their storytelling performance happening on 5 April as part of our Big Wednesday. ‘The show includes three stories about Ganesha, 'How he came to have the head of an elephant' and two others (I don't want to ruin the surprise about which ones they are). They are introduced by a storyteller guide and a surprise cheeky accomplice, who has his own agenda. One of our challenges has been that there are many different versions of each story, and who's to say which version is the definitive one. So we've tried to balance presenting a clear narrative with providing some alternative details.The show is lyrical and visually beautiful and there is some comedy too. I took my inspiration from the stories themselves and thought about the best way of using visual language to present both the drama within the stories and the different layers of meaning. We are using a fusion of styles, blending together some Classical Indian dance with shadow puppetry, rod puppetry and some object puppetry using objects from the Museum collection.’About Dotted Line Theatre The performers are: dancer Maanasa Visweswaran, puppeteers Jum Faruq, Ajjaz Awad and Almudena Calvo Adalia. Dotted Line Theatre was formed in 2012 by Rachel Warr, a theatre director, writer and puppeteer. Dotted Line Theatre create original pieces with a playful quality and a strong visual style. Rachel's work includes productions at The Barbican Centre, Little Angel Theatre, New Wolsey Theatre, Underbelly, and festivals in Prague, Berlin, France and Singapore. This will be our third production for the Horniman Museum and Gardens and we are delighted to be back. A new full-length show! Last summer we performed a piece called ‘Stories on a String’ at the Horniman as part of their Festival of Brasil. The show was inspired by Brazilian Literatura de Cordel (literally translated as 'stories on string'). These are booklets with woodblock printed covers, sharing stories and news to the masses, sold at markets from carts. Literatura de Cordel are also an oral tradition performed through music and poetry. In our show, these wood block pictures came to life as puppets to tell the story of a young girl from the city on a quest for her grandmother through the Amazon forest. With music and song from Rachel Hayter (a composer/ musician who studied and specialises in music of Brazil) and the talented Camilo Menjura. It was a 25-minute piece and we are going to be developing it into a full-length show that we can tour, for which we have some funding from the Arts Council England and some support in kind from the Little Angel Theatre. We are also fundraising to make up the rest of our financial target. See our Kickstarter campaign for more information.
Our Volunteering and Engagement Coordinator, Kate Cooling, is leaving to go travelling around the world. Here, she talks about her time with the Horniman Learning and Volunteering team. 'When I was a primary school teacher, I was looking for a way to gain experience in museums and have fun in my school holidays, so joined the Engage team as a Volunteer. I was part of that team for more than two years between 2012 and 2014 and had a great time, meeting new people, sharing my love of museums and finding out more about a career that I thought could be the one for me. After two fantastic roles in Museum Education elsewhere, when the role of Volunteering and Engagement Coordinator was advertised in December 2015 I jumped at the chance to get back to the Horniman… and the rest, as they say, is history!From day one, the team here have made me feel welcome and included me in many exciting opportunities. Some of my favourites have been our Volunteers Week celebrations in June, getting to know more about our incredible Handling Collection, spending time in the beautiful Gardens and volunteering at our Museum Lates and Summer Festival.I have loved collaborating with my wonderful colleagues and of course our incredible Volunteer team – such a diverse, talented, fun and friendly group of people! Although managing museum volunteers was fairly new to me when I joined the team here, I have enjoyed every minute of it. Supporting our volunteers to find new opportunities in a range of roles has been a real pleasure. I hope they enjoy their time at the Horniman and understand how integral and valued they are here.As I head off on my travels, I am looking forward to hearing how the Volunteer team goes from strength to strength with the new opportunities that arise from our Gallery redevelopments and Butterfly House. I will be one of the Horniman’s most avid followers and plan on visiting the new Galleries as soon as my feet are back on English soil next year! Thank you for a wonderful year and for a chance to be part of the Learning and Volunteering team.' Discover more about volunteering at the Horniman.
Anthropology curator, Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp, tells us about her research trip to Eko Market in Lagos, Nigeria.‘In November 2016 I travelled to Lagos, Nigeria, to work with a talented photographer, Jide Odukoya. Part of the Horniman’s new World Gallery will focus on Lagos – Nigeria’s largest city. We wanted to capture the vibrancy and energy of the markets on Lagos Island through photography and film.Lagos is without a doubt the most incredible city I have ever been to. It’s noisy, sticky, busy and frantic, but also exciting and beautiful. There is never a dull moment. Clambering off the back of a motorbike on my first day, I looked up to see four enormous white concrete horses galloping over the podiums lining the entrance to Tafawa Belawa Square. The monument is named after the first Prime Minister of independent Nigeria who took over from British rule in 1960.The square is also a major transport junction. From here you can pick-up another bike that takes you into the financial heart of the city. Steel and glass high-rise office blocks owned by global banks tower over a vast network of street markets. You soon realise that what may first appear as a chaotic throng of shoppers, buses, and market stalls is meticulously organised. Whether you need shoes, a new tablet, a watch, a blender, nappies, pineapples or a new pair of pants, there will be an area designated for it.My favourite street was jam-packed with toy stalls and school stationery; squeaky children’s shoes, little neon plastic cars, and row-upon-row of Frozen backpacks. We will try to recreate a stall from this street in the new gallery.As I followed it up a hill, the street turned into a Lagosian winter wonderland – piles of bright tinsel and great bundles of colourful flashing lights, Christmas trees with fibre-optic pine-needles and mechanical Santas that sang Jingle Bells. Jide chose to photograph and film Eko market – the place to buy handbags, sunglasses and clothes. His images capture the Lagos hustle.Whether you want replica Prada sunglasses, leather belts, denim dungarees, or a crisp white shirt, you can find it here. His photographs show a meticulously dressed shopper cast a discerning eye over bright patterned dresses and two women sharing a joke after a deal has been struck. They are vivid and playful – both terms which we hope will be reflected in our exciting new gallery.This trip was generously funded by an ICOM WIRP travel grant.’ Find out more about the development of the World Gallery.
Want to find a quite and peaceful spot in our Museum? Engage Volunteer, Anahita Harding, has just the ticket. Here, she tells us her favourite calm spots and the best times to visit them. 'Sometimes the Museum can feel quite busy and hectic but for those in the know, there are some places that are a bit quieter where you can get find some peace. The Gardens are a lovely place to go when a quiet spot is needed but on a rainy day this isn’t always ideal. If you ever need a quiet spot to think and be calm, here are some indoor spaces I like to go to during my breaks. Nature Base If you want to see the harvest mice, come to the Nature Base in the morning, as this is the best time to see them running and climbing! The harvest mice are crepuscular, which means that they are most active in the mornings and in the evenings. The quietest time tends to be in the morning when the Museum has just opened but the Nature Base can get busy during other times of the day.The Natural History Gallery balcony The Natural History Gallery balcony has a variety of cases with interesting specimens in them. There is also a nice space here to read stories and books. A grand clock is near the staircase, and it gently chimes every fifteen minutes. It is called the Apostle Clock and was made during the 19th century in Germany. Usually, the balcony is very quiet and is a nice space to learn while watching everyone in the gallery below. There is also a good view of the walrus!The Aquarium Have you seen the jellyfish in the Aquarium? As you enter the Aquarium you will see a space lit up with a calming blue light, and jellyfish gently moving through their tank. It is lovely to watch them move. Above, you will see a large turtle hanging from the ceiling, can you find it? This is one of my favourite spots, and I hope you enjoy it too.'The Museum is at it's quietest after 2.30pm on weekdays during term time. Share your favourite peaceful spots from the Museum and Gardens with us using #horniman. Find out more about volunteering at the Horniman.