Recording the Brain Collection Archives
14 August 2019 | 12:00 am

Wed, 14th Aug 2019

Photography Student, Fern Denyer shares her experience volunteering at the Study Collection Centre and assisting with the recording of the Brain Collection Archives. Recently I completed a three-month placement at the Horniman’s Study Collection Centre (SCC), where I assisted with acquisitions and archives from the Brain Collection. Acquisitions are objects acquired by the Museum from donations. I helped with objects and archives from 1953 that were collected in Sudan and Nigeria.Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp, Deputy Keeper of Anthropology, and Carly Randall, Archivist, organised my 12-week student placement which included accessioning, a way of recording new additions to collections and scanning an archive of 35mm photographic slides. I also assisted Sarah Duncan, the Horniman’s Photographer, with photographing and retouching the objects. Later in the programme I gained a unique insight into how Museum acquisitions are managed and the procedures involved at an Acquisitions and Disposals Committee Meeting. The Brain Collection archive is made up of hundreds of photographic slides, each of which needed to be scanned and uploaded onto the Collections Database: a system called MIMSY. I described and recorded each scan carefully, giving each one its own unique collection number. With guidance from Johanna, I also gave each slide a rough estimation of what had been shot and its location. As well as archive material, there were lots of objects in the collection that needed to be labelled. Working with Rosamund West, Documentation Officer, I learned how to handle objects appropriately and record their measurements. Rosamund also showed me how to label the objects using both ink and other materials. I used ink and varnish to mark the objects with collection numbers (it required a very steady hand!).As a photography student, it was insightful to see how the Photographer Sarah worked in the studio. Sarah was encouraging and allowed me to shoot some images in the collection. Getting hands-on experience with museum photography really helped to improve my confidence. I really enjoyed working in the studio and seeing what decisions Sarah made to get the best possible photographs of the objects. She showed me the process of editing images post-production and a layering image technique which ensures the entire object is in focus.During this volunteering opportunity, I saw different aspects of how a collection is prepared and how museum stores are organised. I also gained knowledge about how an archive is appropriately managed. Overall I have really appreciated my student placement experience and learned so many skills. I saw the progression of the Brain Collection as a project and assisted at each stage. I now also feel much more confident photographing in a studio setting.

About the Art: Claire Morgan
2 August 2019 | 12:00 am

Fri, 2nd Aug 2019

We caught up with internationally-exhibited sculptor and artist Claire Morgan about her body of artwork, As I Live and Breathe. Hello Claire, Can you tell us about yourself as an artist? How did you become an artist? It might be a cliché, but as early as I can remember, I always wanted to be an artist when I grew up. At some point during school I was gently told that you can’t actually work as an artist, so I started looking at fashion design, but everything kept going back to sculpture. I studied sculpture at Northumbria Uni, and as soon as I graduated I started applying for absolutely any opportunity I could find, regardless of the fact that I had no CV. Basically, I just kept working every waking second, and eventually I got one or two temporary commissions, and it started to grow from there. About 10 years ago I was approached by Karsten Greve, and around that time drawing started to become more significant for me. Now my practice spans a lot of different media, and the explorations in one area feed into the other areas. Day-to-day, the hands-on side of my practice usually involves drawing, painting, planning sculptures on paper, and doing taxidermy.What would you like visitors to think about when they see As I Live and Breathe? I would like them to think, and I feel like sometimes a written explanation limits the potential for that. It is too easy to explain an artwork away to nothing, and I like my work to retain an element of ambiguity, so I don’t think it is helpful to spell out exactly what I want someone to think. Aside from that, my work isn’t the result of a linear process – it isn’t a case of me figuring out how to make people think a certain thing, it is more that I think about certain things and the work comes out as a result of that. It’s more a process of me asking myself questions and exploring the unexpected possibilities that arise from that process of questioning. That said, I can certainly tell you what I am thinking about, which leads to my ideas. I am terrified by the aggressively selfish attitude we as a society have towards everything around us. We just keep consuming and consuming, and even now do little more than pay lip service to actually dealing with the mess we have made of the planet and the disastrous direction we are moving in. I’m not for a minute suggesting that I am not complicit in this. I suppose that is part of what scares me. It is so easy to lead a double life – to be genuinely concerned about our impact, but to knowingly placate yourself by doing good yet relatively ineffectual things like refusing plastic straws, while still taking transatlantic flights and eating meat and dairy. We hurt ourselves, mentally and physically, and we hurt what sustains us. And yet, amid all of this, there is the overwhelming beauty and frailty of life.What is your favourite medium to work with and why? At the moment I have been working with pastels and pigments, and the bodies of dead animals. So a bit of a broad range there! I like having the freedom to move between different materials and techniques. The thing I enjoy most is learning. That often means I put myself in the position of doing things I find very difficult, and therefore the process can be infuriating and slow. What is the creative process of making your sculptures and artwork? Whether the end result is a drawing or painting or sculpture or all of those things, all my ideas tend to start in the same way. I need to move away from my everyday working environment. That can mean going outside and walking, travelling, visiting museums, cinema, gigs and reading books. Anything that can transport me either physically or mentally. Generally, the most productive thing is to go elsewhere. Then ideas begin to appear in the form of words or shapes. I then start to sketch these things very roughly and discover connections between them. What drew you to using taxidermy? When I was younger I was not interested in taxidermy at all, and perhaps I even disliked it a bit because I had jumped to conclusions and never really thought about it properly. But I’ve always used organic matter in my work. Animals are just a part of that. Early on I was just using bits of animals, feathers and unpreserved dead things, but as my work developed I moved away from simply exploring decay, and became preoccupied with the specific roles of the lifeforms in my work. I wanted to be able to manipulate the specific positions of animals, and to control them visually, and to halt their decay. I found that in order to do that I needed taxidermy, and as I started to learn the various processes, my understanding of it changed entirely, and the process of touching and exploring the dead beings has become a central part of my practice.What motivates and influences you as an artist? What other artists are you drawn to? I don’t think I’m motivated primarily by other artists, perhaps more by their approach, their way of thinking, and their single-mindedness and determination. Back when I was studying, like 20 years ago, I was really influenced by people like Anya Gallaccio, Rebecca Horn and Kiki Smith. Now I’m perhaps more influenced by people working in other artforms. The writing of David Foster Wallace has directly inspired new ideas many times. Music is a vital part of my process when I’m working on the more expressionistic parts of drawings and paintings, and when thinking of new ideas. At the moment I use Aphex Twin, Bjork, Jon Hopkins, Fuck Buttons, Nathan Fake, Nick Cave, and various other electronic/techno stuff. It’s not just reading and listening to tunes – I cannot make work without this. Your artwork has been a residence in some beautiful places, such as the Musse Jean Lucrat. Where has been your favourite place to display so far? Or where is your dream location to display your work? Working at Chateau d’Oiron was pretty amazing. The location, the historical details of the chateau, and the permanent collection of contemporary art there are all very inspiring. I was offered the attic of the chateau, and there was evidence of many animals living in that room currently – or at least using it – not just insects, pigeons and rodents, but barn owls, bats, and pine martens. There was an important renaissance fresco in the room directly below, and I developed my work in response to all these things. Dream locations… Well an obvious one in the UK is the Turbine Hall. I’d be excited by any opportunity to work on a very large scale temporary commission in a culturally or historically significant location. That seems to be the kind of situation where I work best. Your artworks seem to play with concepts of time and fantasy, what other narratives do you feel your artwork has? Fantasy isn’t something I really think about in relation to my work. Everything I make stems from observations and concerns about what I see around me, consciousness and our perception of reality, and the physical world. I’m interested in the passing of time, and our complete lack of control in the face of the change that brings. That affects every other aspect of our lives, and I think it does have a considerable role in the way we try to distance ourselves from other animals and from nature, because at the end of the day nature embodies change and mortality, and that is what scares us most. What do you have coming up? I’m currently working towards a solo exhibition at Galerie Karsten Greve Paris in 2020. Some projects just culminated – my exhibition at the Horniman, and a new body of work for the Fondation Daniel & Florence Guerlain Drawing Prize. Generally I am quite drained and need to start from scratch when I’ve finished a project, so now I’m really trying to focus on my studio practice, researching and experimenting a bit, and starting to develop new ideas for the solo show. At the moment I also have work in some group exhibitions in Germany and France. Two suspended installations and two paintings can be seen at Biennale Ephémères, Château de Monbazillac, France, until 30 September, and other works can also be seen at Bêtes de scène, Villa Datris, France until 3 Nov 2019, and ARTENREICH – Insekten in der Kunst, Museum Sinclair-Haus, Germany, until 13 October. All my current and forthcoming projects (and my studio and cats!) can be followed @clairemorganstudio on Instagram and Facebook, and on the news page of my website.

The Windrush Generation: The Journey through to Life
25 July 2019 | 12:00 am

Thu, 25th Jul 2019

2019 is the first year that the nation celebrated Windrush day as an officially recognised anniversary, so we spoke with Caribbean elders and heard their experiences. Rachael Minott, Horniman’s Curator of Anthropology (Social Practice), with the help of Shasti Lowton, created a series of events where multiple generations of Caribbeans could gather and share food, stories and advice.  Here, the group shares challenges in the education system, career successes and aspirations, through letters to their parents. Morella FordeMum tells us how fortunate we are, she was born during wartime and had little schooling. She always looks up at us when she needs to write her letters or complete forms. She tells us stories of her childhood days, sometimes not attending school and having very little to eat as it was difficult in the war. I must say I am grateful for what I have achieved in my education here. I believe the education system in the Caribbean overall is much better than here. All of my friends who went to school with me always talk about how we were left behind when we came to school here. We had already learnt all the subjects which was being taught according to our ages in the class. However, when you get older to 18 years on, you do need to leave Dominica and seek to travel to another country to study at university level as Dominica doesn’t have a university.Catherine Ross  Mum and Dad - Your courage and persistence helped you succeed in creating a home for your family, providing for your growing family needs and inspiring your family and others to reach for the stars and follow their dreams. What you will be delighted to know is the little clan you have created did just that.The name Ross is now associated with entrepreneurial activity and a range of business ventures - children’s nurseries and playschools, fashion and beauty salons, art and culture, and catering. All these businesses have the same ethos as the one you created in your early days in England, bringing people together and helping them to survive, thrive and navigate their way around English society. Your house parties were legendary; people still talk about them today. Many people say they don’t know how they would have coped in the early days of settling into the country if you hadn’t generously opened your home and hearts to them. Shebeens and Blues Parties developed from house parties, but Caribbeans needed these spaces where they could escape the racism of those days.RachaelMum and Dad - Despite your knowledge and experience you had to start over with work here, because no one trusted what you knew. You went from managers to receptionist, sat through interviews for jobs - which no longer existed - just to be tested. You conducted yourselves in the constant pursuit of excellence and told us that it did not matter what we chose to do, but that we were the best we could be in that role. You encouraged excellence and we too pursue excellence until this day. However, it means I expect excellence in return. Sometimes it means I am disappointed, by the world, the people I interact with and in myself.Dunstan CreavallePops - It's been nine years since you passed but not a day goes by without us celebrating your love of photography. With me on my Samsung 8 plus and Vanes on her IPhone 8, we continue capturing magical memories and to make our own mark documenting history. Your journey meant you were known throughout London (especially east London), as Andy the Photographer who did weddings, christenings, passports and many other celebrations.I am pleased that you got to see the start of my Photography Journey, with Soca News, then the City of London Black Police Association, which led to my connection with the 100 Black Men of London, and becoming their Official Photographer in 2002. I know you will be pleased to hear that Vanes is continuing photography for 100 Black Men of London and taking things even further by creating videos that highlight the work we do. In fact, last week she was representing at Caesars Palace Las Vegas! I know as a boxing fan, that's one place you would have loved to capture Muhammed Ali.

Horniman Early Keyboard Competition 2020
23 July 2019 | 12:00 am

Tue, 23rd Jul 2019

Entries are now open for the Horniman Early Keyboard Competition to be held from 28 April to 1 May 2020. The instruments to be used for the competition are the Adam Beyer square piano, London, 1777 and Onofrio Guarracino virginals, Naples, 1668. The competition is open to performers who will be under the age of 36 on 1st May 2020. Two rounds will be held on consecutive days and up to five people will go forward to the second round. Awards will include a cash prize of £200, an audience prize, and recitals at UK venues. In addition to the two rounds of the competition, there will be special masterclasses and a Maestros’ concert by the three adjudicators. Entry fee for competitors: £30. Entry includes free admission to the two masterclasses and Maestros’ concert. How to enter: Fill in the Application Form with the required information. Remember to consult the repertoire list below. A link to payment to secure your place in the competition will be provided once all information has been processed. Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. We can accommodate up to 15 players. Early entry advised. Adjudicators:Maggie Cole Marcia Hadjimarkos Catalina VicensCompetition Rules: Conditions of performing Due to the rarity, age and sensitive condition of the instruments, all performers must have had previous experience playing historic keyboards and must also be willing to attend in advance an introduction to the instruments with Mimi Waitzman, Deputy Keeper of Musical Instruments. This induction is required only once. Permission to play the instruments is at the sole discretion of the Horniman Museum. Inductions will be held on Monday 27 April 2020 from 2pm till 5pm or by special arrangement further in advance. Contact Beatrice Booker to arrange an induction. Masterclass Information Masterclasses will take place on two afternoons. On Tuesday 28 April Marcia Hadjimarkos will give the early piano class; and on Wednesday 29 April Catalina Vicens will give the virginals class. Any competitor wishing to participate in one or both of the masterclass(es) must, nevertheless, apply separately as players’ places will be limited. Players may not perform their competition repertoire for the masterclass(es). Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.  Email Lorraine Liyanage to register. Instruments: Guarracino Virginals (1668) and Beyer Square Piano (1777) Instruments’ Technical Specifications  Repertoire Performers will be required to perform from a list of repertoire as follows: Thursday 30 April Round One 15 minutes of music Virginals: 7 to 8 minutes of music made up of selections from the following: JJ Froberger: a toccata plus a suite from the first book (1649). G Frescobaldi: a toccata from the first book (edition of 1637 (1st edition 1615)) plus a balletto, corrente and ciaccona or passacaglia. Alessandro Scarlatti: any toccata plus various compositions  Square piano: 7 to 8 minutes of music made up of selections from the following: JC Bach: a sonata including at least two contrasting movements. Domenico Scarlatti: a pair of contrasting sonatas. Maria Hester Park: a sonata including at least two contrasting movements. Friday 1 May Round Two 25 minutes of music Virginals: 12 to 13 minutes of music made up of selections from the following: Any toccata, canzona or ricercare by GM Trabaci or M Rossi. G Frescobaldi: a set of Partite. G Frescobaldi: a toccata from the second book (1637). JJ Froberger: a capriccio or ricercar from 1656 or 1658, plus a suite from the book of 1656. Square piano: 12 to 13 minutes of music from the following: J Haydn: a sonata including at least two contrasting movements. WA Mozart: a sonata including at least two contrasting movements. JL Dussek: a sonata including at least two contrasting movements. Marianna von Martinez: a sonata including at least two contrasting movements.


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