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Storytelling at the Horniman

Debbie from Small Tales Storytelling Clubs reflects upon her experience sharing stories from across India at the Horniman Indian Summer Garden party.

The day dawned bright and sunny over London and over India.  I was looking forward to the storytelling sessions, as today I was performing with four of my young storytellers from Small Tales Storytelling Clubs at the opening of the Horniman Museum’s Indian Summer Festival. The group consisted of Emily, Eve, Joe and Rose beside myself, Debbie.  We were going to tell stories from different parts of India, as well as doing both hand dancing and Bollywood dancing with our audience. 

The sessions began with a hand dance that helps hand-eye coordination and got more difficult as the dance went on.  There was much laughter as the adults tried as hard as the children to make shapes of birds, flowers, trees, and water. Then I introduced the storyteller who was going to tell the next story.  The first young storyteller was Rose, who told the story of a man who wanted a horse and could not afford it, so a wily stallholder sold him a horse egg. This was followed by Eve and myself telling the story of a King who loved his baths yet always ended up with dirty feet.  He was responsible for the first shoes being created. The next story was told by Emily and Joe, about a Topi Wallah (hat seller) who pits his wisdom against the monkeys in the forest and ends with understanding the true meaning of stories. The audience really got into the swing of being either the Topi Wallah or the monkeys, with most choosing the latter. Needless to say, our stories had unexpected endings and brought forth laughter and nodding of heads in agreement.

Finally, I told the story which was told to me when my mother wrapped my first sari around me.  It is the story of a weaver who marries the woman of his dreams and ends with creating the very first sari, which she wore on their wedding day.  We are told this story so that we realise the importance of following our dreams and the possibility of them coming true. Whilst I told the story, I wrapped a beautiful golden sari on a volunteer from the audience.  The moment that last piece was laid over the shoulder, there was a gasp from the audience as it goes from a long piece of cloth to an amazing piece of clothing.  Then I showed the audience some simple Bollywood dance moves and we ended with us all dancing.

Our young storytellers had only positive things to say about the experience.

“Performing at the museum was very interesting as I got to tell stories to people of all ages and it was a wonderful experience. My partner, Joe and I told an Indian story, the Topi Wallah. We used audience participation to include everyone and it was an amazing opportunity. During the performance, we danced with the audience, which I especially enjoyed”.  Emily (14)

“We all had a fantastic time performing at the Horniman. The audiences were very engaged and seemed to love our stories! The surroundings were very interesting, especially in the room with all the masks. The staff were also amazing and looked after us so well. Thank you to the Horniman for having us, we would love to come again”.  Eve (11)

“Getting to tell the story of the Topi Wallah was an amazing experience. We were treated very professionally and were given a great venue to perform in. The atmosphere during the performance and the dancing afterward were very pleasant and overall a joy to be a part of”.  Joe (14)

My memory of the day was that the stories flowed; the young storytellers enthralled the audience who laughed and danced with us.  As for me, I left with the joy induced by the people, both young and old, who had taken the time to come and listen. 

Competition Time: Win two tickets to see The Jungle Book

We've teamed up with our partners Luna Cinema to give you the chance to win two free tickets to our screening of The Jungle Book in our Gardens on 6 August.

Simply respond to one of our competition posts on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, by 3 pm on Friday 28 July, telling us why you love the Horniman and we'll pick our favourite.

Mowgli's journey to the man-village to escape the Bengal tiger Shere Khan becomes an unforgettable adventure in the company of Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear. 2017 is the 50th anniversary of this classic, song-filled Disney animation, so come and celebrate with us.

Terms and conditions apply:

This competition is only open to UK residents, excluding employees of THE HORNIMAN PUBLIC MUSEUM AND PUBLIC PARK TRUST or their families, agents or anyone else connected with this promotion. No third party entries, bulk entries or entries submitted by agents will be accepted. THE HORNIMAN PUBLIC MUSEUM AND PUBLIC PARK TRUST reserves the right to verify the eligibility of entrants. The Horniman may require such information as it considers reasonably necessary for the purpose of verifying the eligibility of an entry and the prize may be withheld until and unless the Horniman is satisfied with the verification.
Entrants must be over 18 and warrant such by entering this competition/prize draw.
Entries not complying with these terms and conditions will be invalid.
Entries received after the expiry date are invalid.
Winner(s) will be by notified via social media dependent upon the manner in which the competition/prize draw was entered. If the winner fails to respond by 12pm Monday 31 July, they shall forfeit the prize and a runner-up will be contacted.
The Horniman will not be responsible for any inability of a prize winner to take up the specified prize.
Cash or credit alternatives will not be offered. The prize is non-transferable.
In the event of fraud, abuse, and/or an error affecting the proper operation of this competition/prize draw, including the allocation of more prizes than are available, The Horniman reserves the right to end or suspend the competition/prize draw; amend these terms and conditions; declare void the notification of winner(s); and/or to allocate available prizes by conducting a simple draw from all wrongly allocated winners.
If any provision of these terms and conditions is held invalid by any law, rule, order or regulation of any government, or by the final determination of any court of a competent jurisdiction, such invalidity shall not affect the enforceability of any other provisions not held to be invalid.
THE HORNIMAN PUBLIC MUSEUM AND PUBLIC PARK TRUST reserves the right to suspend, cancel or amend the competition/prize draw and/or review and revise these terms and conditions at any time without giving prior notice and by continuing to take part in the promotion subsequent to any revision of these terms and conditions, entrants shall be deemed to have agreed to any such new or amended terms.
This competition/prize draw is governed by English Law and is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

Goodbye Busy Bees

Our Busy Bees programme has ended for the summer but we hope you've enjoyed it as much as we have. Fear not, Busy Bees will return at 10, 10.45 and 11.30 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, beginning on Tuesday 12 September, with more stories, objects, music and outdoor play. In the meantime, we hope to see you at some of our summer events.

During the school holidays, we run an exciting programme of events for families and children of all ages. Activities take place every day from Saturday 22nd July until Sunday 3rd September and full details can be found on the calendar on our website.

Some highlights from our summer programme include: 

Wednesday 26 July – Big Butterfly Count

Join Richard ‘Bugman’ Jones exploring our gardens and Nature Trail and take part in the nation’s Big Butterfly Count using spotter sheets and sweeper nets.

Wednesday 2 August – Horniman Favourites

Celebrate National Play Day by watching a traditional Punch & Judy Show and get up close to some live owls with JAMBS Owls.

Wednesday 9 August – Indian Summer  

Join us for the launch of our Big Wednesday Indian Summer programme, watch traditional Indian dance, find out how to drape a sari and listen to Indian folk tales.

  • Subrang Arts, Subrang Arts
    Subrang Arts

Indian Summer Raffle

The Horniman Museum and Gardens is a charity, support our work and be in with a chance to win one of ten fantastic prizes.

Throughout the summer look out for ticket sellers at all our Indian Summer events or visit the Ticket Desk. Raffle tickets are just £1, or 6 for £5, with all proceeds supporting the care of our collections and Gardens.   

Tickets can be purchased at any time between Sunday 9 July and Sunday 3 September. Winners will be drawn on Monday 4 September.

All proceeds help support the work of the Horniman Museum & Gardens (Charity Registration Number 802725).

The prizes include:

Behind-the-Scenes Aquarium Tour

Join a curator for a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of our much-loved aquarium.

The tour is for up to 5 visitors and available Monday – Friday. Prize must be redeemed by 31 December 2017, dates and times subject to availability.

Find out more about the Aquarium.

Luna Cinema Tickets

Watch a film under the stars at one of Luna Cinema’s many beautiful locations. Luna Cinema is one of the country's leading producer of open air cinema events.

This experience is for 2 adults and is valid until 31 December 2017.

Find out more about Luna Cinema.

Butterfly House Tickets

Be among the first to explore the Horniman’s brand-new Butterfly House. The immersive experience will include hundreds of beautiful butterflies in a tropical indoor garden.

The winner will receive a free family ticket for two adults and two children, valid until 31 December 2017.

Find out more about the Butterfly House.

Horniman Family Membership

Enjoy a year of fantastic benefits including free entry to the Aquarium and our temporary exhibitions, and a 10% discount in our Shop.
Find out more about Membership.

£25 Sainsbury's Gift Voucher

Treat yourself to a gift or pick up your weekly essentials with this fantastic £25 Sainsbury’s gift voucher.

Valid for 1 year across all UK Sainsbury’s supermarkets. 

And much more...

Terms and Conditions

1. Closing date 03/09/2017.
2. Entry is via tickets purchased at the Horniman Museum and Gardens only. Entrants must provide details of their chosen contact method. Please keep the ticket as proof of purchase.
3. The prize winners will be chosen at random from all valid entries received by the closing date. The decision is final and non-negotiable.
4. The winner of each prize will be notified by their chosen contact method by 15/09/2017. The winners must claim the prize within two weeks or they will be considered forfeited and another draw will take place.
5. Winners may be asked to provide a photograph or to be photographed and interviewed to provide a quote about winning in order to help promote future fundraising.
6. Entrants must be over 16 and resident in UK.
7. No cash alternative.
8. Prizes are non-transferable.
9. The Horniman Museum and Gardens reserves the right to substitute the prizes with a prize of similar value at its own discretion.
10. The Horniman Museum & Gardens reserves the right to withdraw or amend the raffle as necessary due to circumstances outside its control.
11. By entering the raffle, all entrants will be deemed to have accepted and agreed to be bound by these rules.
12. Employees of the Horniman Museum and Gardens, their agencies and other companies directly involved in the running of the raffle are not permitted to enter.
13. The competition is run by the Horniman Museum and Gardens, 100 London Road, London SE23 3PQ

DATA PROTECTION

We are committed to protecting your privacy in line with the Data Protection Act. The data you have supplied will be held securely. We will not share this information with any third party without your consent.

Thank you for supporting the Horniman.

About the Art: Daksha Patel

We spoke to Daksha Patel about her new artwork Pani, which you can see for free in the Natural History Gallery.

  • About the Art: Daksha Patel, Artist Daksha Patel speaking at the opening her exhibition Pani
    Artist Daksha Patel speaking at the opening her exhibition Pani

What was the inspiration behind Pani?

The work is about water and our relationship with it. A significant part of the human body is comprised of water, and it is central to all ecosystems. Water is a symbol of purification in many South Asian cultures, and yet it is also contaminated and a source of pollution. Water moves across boundaries - geographical, political, economic and cultural - it is a highly contested resource.

Whilst looking at maps of ecosystems across South Asia, I began thinking about how water moves across boundaries - geographical, political, economic and cultural - and how it is a shared, and consequently a highly contested resource.

This simple molecule - H2O - is central to our biological selves and permeates ecosystems. It also permeates culture, and is implicated in all kinds of cultural and religious practices; for instance the concept of holy water is found in many different cultures.

In South Asian cultures, water is often a symbol of purification through the ritual act of cleansing the body. And yet water is also routinely contaminated and polluted causing immense harm to humans and to ecosystems.

The complex relationship that we have with water was the starting point for the work.

  • About the Art: Daksha Patel, Planning Pani
    Planning Pani

How did the Horniman influence Pani?

The Horniman is a really interesting Museum because it has such a diverse range of collections. As part of my research for this project, I visited the museum stores and looked at collections of South Asian water vessels and textiles. The shapes of the water pots, and the colours and patterns upon the textiles have all influenced the final work.

But also, the way in which the Museum becomes wonderfully animated as groups of school children move through it has influenced how I think about the work. I’m interested in how they will engage with it as they move through the space.

How did Pani develop from your initial thoughts to the display in the Natural History Gallery?

Ideas evolved and changed from my original proposal as I started testing and exploring materials.

I had initially imagined the map would be printed upon paper; the idea of printing it upon cloth and of using embroidery as a way of drawing into the map developed over time. This was influenced by the collections and a desire to make links between ecosystems and the cultures of the region.

Similarly I had originally planned upon making drawings with slip (a mixture of clay and water) upon ceramic water pots. I have used slip as a drawing material in past projects and was keen to develop this further. As I was researching the impact of water pollution upon the human body (for instance high levels of arsenic in water causes rashes and blisters upon the skin), I started to think about the pots as bodies. The idea of damaging the pots by cracking/distorting their surface evolved from that.

  • About the Art: Daksha Patel, Making the pots
    Making the pots

What do you want people to think about when they see Pani?

The artwork makes connections between different things, for instance between ecosystems, water pollution and cultural traditions, or handmade crafts practices and twenty first century digital mapping technologies, or mapping symbols, drawing and embroidery.

The central theme of water is addressed indirectly - I wanted to allow space for the imagination to make its own connections. Once a piece of artwork is completed and moves into the public realm outside the artist’s studio, it takes on its own life and meanings. Everyone brings their own interpretations; has their own way of looking at it.

  • About the Art: Daksha Patel, A close up of the map appearing in Pani
    A close up of the map appearing in Pani

You can see Pani in the Natural History Gallery from Saturday 20 May to Sunday 26 November 2017.  Entry to the Gallery is free.

The Horniman is grateful to Roseberys Fine Art Auctioneers for their generous support of this display.

Sponsors

Stories of Ganesha

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.

  • Stories of Ganesha, A sketch for part of the design.
    A sketch for part of the design.

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.’

  • Stories of Ganesha, A test of a shadow puppet for the show.
    A test of a shadow puppet for the show.

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.

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