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Storytelling in a flash

This week is National Storytelling Week (28 Jan - 4 Feb 2017), a time to celebrate tales and yarns from the around the world. 

Stories come in all shapes and forms. They might appear when you have a conversation with a friend. They can be conjured up when cosying down with a new book. They can be told around campfires. They can even be created on Twitter.

Wait.... Twitter? With only 140 characters? 

Yes! Flash fiction, twitterature, 140-character stories, six-word-stories. Whatever you want to call it, telling a story in just a few words is a test in brevity and ingenuity.

Short stories have a long history from ancient times right through to the modern era and they are often seen as powerful things as they often hint at a larger story.

  • Japanese Fairy Tales, Japanese Fairy Tales in the Horniman Library
    Japanese Fairy Tales in the Horniman Library

To put the idea of short stories to the test, we asked children's author Margaret Bateson-Hill to come up with just six words that describe traditional fairy tales and nursery rhymes. 

Margaret rose to the challenge brilliantly. Here are her six-word fairytales:

Sleeping Beauty:

Centenarian princess receives kiss of life

Snow White:

Red blood, red apple, red shoes

Cinderella:

Lost glass slipper is perfect match

Frog Prince

Frog in golden ball kiss swap

The Princess and the Pea:

Pea'd off at loss of sleep

 Humpty Dumpty:

Humpty cracks up over wall fall

Can you think of any six-word-stories? Share yours with us on Twitter

Book now for a special storytelling workshop in our Hands on Base this Sunday with Margaret Bateson-Hill, where we will help families discover their inner writing talents with inspiration from our Handling Collection. 

Silver Sunday Celebration at the Horniman

Michael, from Community Connections shares his thoughts about Silver Sunday - an annual day of fun and free activities for older people across the UK. 

'We are a group (through Age Concern UK) who met regularly at the Horniman. We take on projects concerning the local area.

Our latest project is called Roots and Branches. It explores the areas in South London where some of our group members live. This covers the area in and around Lewisham, Penge, Forest Hill, Sydenham, Norwood, Anerley, etc. We currently have a small exhibition in the Education Centre at the Horniman.

We decided to celebrate Silver Sunday by opening our research to everybody visiting the Museum. You could listen to our stories by computer or add written memories to our Memory Wall, making up a collage of pictures and writings. We also had a large blown up area map on the wall where people could identify where they live and could attach a thought or picture of their memory to it.

With games and a craft table, the afternoon was a great success for all age groups.

Hope to see you all next year.'

  • Arts and Crafts on local memory, Children and Adults make arts and crafts about local memory.
    Children and Adults make arts and crafts about local memory.

Mysterious matters at the Magic Late

On 13 October 2016, we opened our doors after hours for an evening of magic, sorcery and folklore. 

We had our whole English charm collection on display in the Hands On Base where visitors could see them up close and talk to Tom, our Anthropology Curator about them. 

We were also taking photos of the modern charms our visitors brought with them. We plan on using these charms for a specially-curated display in our new World Gallery

Also in the Hands On Base, we had a fantastic talk about Magic Wands from Philip Carr Gomm, Chosen Chief of The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. We learnt about A.W. Rowlett, the old English wizard or ‘cunning man’ who collected many of our charms. We also experienced a specially commissioned work by artist Martha McGuinn and sound installation by artist and researcher Rachel Emily Taylor

In Gallery Square, we had a moving performance of 'She Who Walks' by Denise Rowe which paid honor to the women connected to the land who were persecuted during the witch hunts of the Middle Ages. 

We enjoyed watching the short film 'The Kingdom of Paul Nash' with live music to accompany it in our Conservatory, which was organised by the Cabinet of Living Cinema.

Our Museum was overrun by a wandering pigeon who led people to the Natural History Gallery where there was a specially-comissioned opera installation by Gestalt Arts called 'Feet', written from the point of view of a rock dove who's feet are one of the charms in our collection. 

The Natural History Gallery also saw our Deputy Natural History Keeper Emma-Louise Nicholls take visitors on a tour of the Gallery, pointing out links our specimens have with all things mysterious and magical.

Outside in the Gardens, Annie Horniman (aka Oliva Armstrong) was leading candlelit tours to the Bandstand where she told the tale of her life, the history of the Horniman and the occult. 

See some of the pictures our visitors' shared from the night

Afghani kite-making at the museum

This summer we held a kite-making workshop in association with one of our community partners, Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers. The leader of our workshop, Ahmadzia, tells us more about this fun event. 

My name is Ahmadzia and I am a kite maker from Afghanistan. On the 27 July I had the pleasure of being invited to lead a workshop on kite-making at the Horniman.

It was a beautiful summers day and the wind was great for kite flying. I was happy to see that many people came to the workshop, both children and adults.

At the start of the workshop I gave a quick introduction to the making of kites and then everyone had a chance to make their own. We used lots of different coloured paper to make each kite unique and personal.

We then took our kites to the top of the hill in the beautiful Horniman Gardens and all flew them together.

Kite making and flying is a traditional pastime in Afghanistan, where I was born. Kite fliers of all ages come together to display the kites they have made and sometimes even compete against each other by trying to cut down each other's kites.

To see more of me making and flying a kite watch this short film.

GUDIPARAN from Nima Shahmalekpur on Vimeo.

Who is Saci Perere?

Local performance group Whippersnappers go in search of the Brazilian folklore character of Saci Perere before their show at our Festival of Brasil.

‘Saci Perere is one of the most well-known mythical characters of Brazil. We have been busy speaking to our Brazilian friends and family and asking them what they know about Saci Perere.

Everyone seems to know what Saci looks like. They all say he wears a red cap, red shorts and has one leg. Some people say he lost his leg when he escaped from his slave master in the 18th century and others say he lost his leg when playing capoeira, but most people say Saci Perere has one leg and that is just how he is.

Legend has it that if you grab Saci’s red cap you are granted a wish, but the cap’s smell is so bad, you may never rid yourself of it.

Nobody has ever seen Saki Perere but they have all heard stories about how mischievous he is! Saci is a trickster and is blamed for all the things that go wrong in life – he burns the food and hides children’s toys.

We travelled to Ghana in May where we asked local tailors to stitch some of the backdrops for our performances and had a local puppeteer, Yevo a Togalese, create a Saci mask and puppet.

We were interested in the influence that enslaved African people had over the appearance of Saci Perere in Brazil. There are similarities between the African folklore character of Anancy (a trickster spider) and Saci Perere.

The performance

Our performance at the Horniman’s Festival of Brasil is an original theatre piece entitled “Cade O Saci Perere?” (Where is Saci Perere?)

It will draw inspiration from Brazilian handcraft. Brazilian handcraft is influenced by indigenous, African and Portuguese culture and enriched with the European and Asian migration’s touch, creating unique and colourful art.

Some of our decorations are based on the Brazilian ‘fuxico’ technique. Fuxico is where a piece of fabric which is cut into a circle, the edges are sewn and then pulled into the centre to create a round decoration. The name ‘fuxico’ is old slang for gossip as traditionally women would get together to sew these and gossip.

The show is also inspired by Brazilian ‘Folguedos’. Folguedos are traditional folk celebrations that feature live music, dance and theatrical performances some of which are performed on the streets around Brazil. Some Folguedos have religious roots and have over time been modified with new choreographies, costumes and masks.

Our performance will feature live music from Alba Cabral who will be playing Berimbau, pandeiro, surdo, tamborin, reco-reco (guiros), caxixis (shakers), the guitar, ukulele and kalimba.

Our show will be suitable for all the family and will have a sensory content to ensure it is accessible to children and adults with special needs. If you want to make sure you get a comfy seat bring your own cushion as we are expecting a lot of people. The word is spreading that Saci perere is coming to Forest Hill so if you live locally watch out he doesn’t turn your milk sour or put salt in your dough!'


See Whippersnappers’ performances of Cade O Saci Perere on Wednesday 24 August and on Sunday 4 September.

Watching Brazilian films at the Horniman

This summer, as part of our Festival of Brasil, we collaborated with the Brazilian Embassy's Cineclub Brazil to screen two films in our Pavilion. The first is The Second Mother and the second is City of God.

Here, we chat to the Brazilian Embassy about why they picked these two films to represent Brazilian cinema. 

  • Watching Brazilian films at the Horniman, The Second Mother
    The Second Mother

Why did you pick these two films for showing as part of the Brazil Summer Season at the Horniman?

The two titles showing this summer at the Horniman give a good notion of Brazilian contemporary cinema and its international recognition.

Brazilian cinema has had a crucial role in questioning the country’s social issues. Both City of God and The Second Mother illustrate contemporary Brazil, they also depict completely different environments, themes, social classes, locations and historical political moments in the country.

City of God is a violent, fast-paced film that narrates the story of a group of favela-dwellers in Rio, going from the 60’s to the 80’s. We see how the characters’ lives have been affected as consequences of their actions. The film provoked a debate of modern urban problems like violence, social discrepancy, and drug dealing. It showed a completely new side of the city of Rio de Janeiro that is usually described by its natural beauty and tourist attractions - Sugar loaf, Copacabana Beach and its Carnival.

Internationally, City of God was also embraced with enthusiasm by critics and the general public. In 2003, it was released in the UK, achieving the third highest box-office receipts among foreign productions in England. The title received nominations for best foreign film in both the American Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.

The Second Mother is a touching tale about the relationship of a north-eastern nanny and a wealthy family in Sao Paulo. It explores the conflicts and social issues of modern life in a metropolitan city in Brazil (migration, working class conditions and regionalism) touched by references to fairy tales.

The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Special Jury Prize. It received critical praise in and outside Brazil and was selected as the Brazilian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards. It won the Woman Film Critics Circle Awards in 2015. Director Anna Muylaert won the Panomara Prize at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival.

  • Watching Brazilian films at the Horniman, City of God
    City of God

Why is Cinema important to Brazilian culture?

Films provide a window to different cultures, whether you have an interest in a specific country, in learning a language, or are just curious.

Regardless of the stories or styles of filmmaking, the medium contains a great deal of information about people and places. Someone across the Atlantic who might not have yet visited Brazil can easily learn something about the country and its culture by watching Brazilian films.

The Brazilian domestic audience has also increased lately, following box-office hits from national titles.

For instance, the response to City of God immediately after its release was unprecedented in Brazilian cinema. More than 130,000 people saw the movie on its first weekend, and it quickly became the fifth biggest box-office hit ever in national cinema.

Such figures are quite impressive if one considers that cinema is far from being a popular entertainment in Brazil, a country that is engulfed by the culture of the ‘telenovelas’. Traditionally, the high price of a ticket made cinema a recreation for the middle and upper classes in Brazil.

What would you like viewers to take away from these films?

Each film takes the audience on completely different emotional journeys. However, the fast-paced City of God, it’s quick-editing, and thriller-action elements such as violence overdose, police chasing and gun-shootings are similar to successful commercial blockbusters.

The Second Mother is an emotional journey that engages the audience with the hope for a happy, fairy-tale ending. There are universal themes in this: the criticism of judging others by their appearances or social class and ignoring their capacities; wishes that come true as long as you work hard for them.

We hope the The Second Mother and City of God will provide a little taste of Brazil – a country that was originally formed by a mix of cultures, social issues, regionalisms and beliefs – as well as being entertaining.

Watch The Second Mother on 13 July and City of God on 10 August as part of our Festival of Brasil

Nós: sharing culture through movement

Dance artists Fernanda Prata and Ben King will be performing their piece, Nós, at our Festa Julina on Sunday 3 July and at our Labirinto Late event on 28 July. 

Fernanda Prata was born in Basil, Rio de Janeiro, and now works as a movement director, yoga practitioner and as a tutor at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and Ben King is a London-based performer and dance artist graduated from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

Being Brazilian and English respectively, Fernanda and Ben share their personal and cultural identity with the audience and each other in this performance.

It is an interactive piece, as the audience can select and change the music from a playlist that switches from Brazilian tunes such as Chega De Saudade by Joao Gilberto, Samba e Amor by Bebel Gilberto, Mas Que Nada by Jorge Ben Jor and Domingo No Parque by Gilberto Gil to British songs like Miss You by The Rolling Stones, the theme from Fawlty Towers by Celticana, Angie by Bert Jansch, The Girl From Ipanema by Amy Winehouse and Blackbird by The Beatles.

Each song has its own scene, and the movements are inspired by the Tropicália movement where artists such as Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso would feed from artists of different cultures, digesting their work like a cultural cannibalism, allowing it to influence their own work.

Come along to the Festa Julina on 3 July and Labirinto on 28 July to see this cross-cultural performace piece being performed at the Horniman. 

Special thanks to Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Suzie Holmes and Milk Films Café.

About the Art: Dotted Line Theatre

Dotted Line Theatre have been telling us about the work they have been doing for the Festival of Brasil.

Can you tell us a bit about your theatre piece?

At the Dotted Line Theatre we create an original performance with a playful quality and a strong visual style. For the Festival of Brasil we have created a puppetry and music performance called Stories on a String. This is our second project for the Horniman and we are delighted to be back.

How did you come up with the ideas for Stories on a String?

We have been inspired by Brazilian literatura de cordels, booklets of stories, poetry and news, with woodblock printed illustrations on their front covers. The booklets are hung up for sale on cords or string. A literal translation of the term literatura de cordel is ‘stories on a string’.

That gave us the idea of creating a puppet show where the woodblock printed characters of literatura de cordel come to life as puppets and exist in a world of paper and string.

Cordels are sold in market places and shops, so our show takes place on a market stall cart. Our puppets and landscapes fold out from the cordels hanging up for sale, and take over the cart space.

Brazilian cordels also form part of an oral tradition of performed music and poetry. We have a group of musicians in the cordel tradition, who accompany our puppet show and have created our own literatura de cordel story.

Why did you want to tell this story?

We wanted to create a story that had a broad sweep of Brazilian life, quite ambitious in a 20-25 min performance! Our story travels from the city to the Amazon forest, from the South to the North, it has characters that are old and young, real and mythical.

Our central character is a young girl from São Paulo, who travels on a quest for her grandmother. Some of the folklore of the Amazon appears in our story, so you’ll get to meet the mythical characters of Saci Perere, Curupira and Matinta Pereira.

How did you go about creating the puppets and the music?

We’ve been working hard on our puppet designs, under our lead illustrator Jum Faruq, who is also one of our puppeteers, and with Emilia Liberatore and Tom Crame, and our designs are all in the style of the woodblock cordel illustrations. Our puppets are 2D so we have tried to be inventive with the perspective they are drawn in, how they are revealed and how they move to tell our story.

Our music has been composed by Rachel Hayter with Camilo Menjura. It draws on the musical tradition of literatura de cordel but with some modern and atmospheric music added to the mix to help underscore the drama when the puppets are moving. There is so much energy and rhythm in the music of the country, it is a joy to work with. We hope you might join in with the music in a few places during our show!

We’ve developed the piece collaboratively in the rehearsal room, so the script, the design and the music were all created in relation to one another. It can be a bit ‘chicken-and-egg’ as a creative process, but hopefully that means that all the elements are cohesive.

I hope it gives a flavour of our influences, the cordels and the Amazon!

What does Brazil mean to you?

Rachel, our composer, has lived and worked in Brazil, and specialises in performing and teaching Brazilian music. It is her passion. You can see photos about her experiences (particularly her time in the Amazon with the Turudjam tribe) on Rachel’s blog.

 Catch Stories on a String from Dotted Line Theatre at Festa Julina (3 July) and on Big Wednesday (17 August).

Crossing Borders 2016

This blog on Crossing Borders 2016 was written by our volunteer, Lily Lloyd.

Our annual Crossing Borders event encourages the integration of communities through workshops and activities. The Horniman Museum and Gardens hopes to generate a welcoming space for all. Here are few highlights of the day.

Visitors were invited to draw their journeys to London onto a world map that was on display throughout the event, along with post-it notes expressing things they missed about their home countries. Throughout the day the web of lines grew thicker, showing a huge variety of journeys, all with London as their destination.

Another part of the day was Memodrome: Home, an installation involving people talking about their experiences of growing up in Romania and their subsequent journeys to London. The wider project 'Immersive Theatre' is the culmination of two years’ work for Anca Doczi and her team. Visitors were invited to listen, ask questions and share notions of home.


Language, it is so important for me to communicate. I can do this in English and French but its not the same, its not home.
Diana Buluga a researcher from Immersive Theatre

The narratives intermingled, overlapping to create a single picture of home. Each speaker was surrounded by objects, photographs and video projections of the various places in Romania that they grew up. The immersive result was made from real stories and real interaction.

The installation proved engaging for all ages, with small children as well as adults captivated by the stories told and eager to ask questions. More information about this project can be found at www.immersivetheatre.com

Other events taking place were a windowsill gardening workshop organised by SDCAS. The children who took part were keen to show off their handiwork; and a creative writing workshop organised by Rewrite where the bodies of participants were used to explore language.

Overall there was a great sense of community across the museum with a fantastic turn out of people from all walks of life coming together to consider this important question of migration. A visitor said, ‘to me community means having something in common, it means working together.’ This is something that can definitely be said of Crossing Borders.

 

Carnival Now

Carnival Late is next week, so we have gathered some of our favourite images of carnivals happening around the world.

Carnival traditionally falls before the start of Christian Lent, but can be celebrated in many different ways by different cultures.

Brazil

  • Brazilian Carnival, Monty Moncrieff
    , Monty Moncrieff

  • Brazilian Carnival, Monty Moncrieff
    , Monty Moncrieff


Photo of Carnival in Rio by Monty Moncrieff

 Germany
 

#dreigestirn auf dem #wilhelmplatz in #nippes #alaaf #karneval

A photo posted by Oliver Brückner (@designbrueckner) on


Spain 
More Carnivals 

Some more Carnival pics we enjoyed from:

Be sure to join us on 25 February and join the carnival at Carnival Late.

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