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The Collective meets the objects

Learn about the Studio Collective's visit to the Study Collections Centre to inspect objects that may feature in their exhibition later this year.

The Collective spent a lot of time in our meetings talking about objects from the collection and looking at pictures of them. But nothing compares to seeing objects in real life, so our visit to the Study Collection Centre, where the Horniman stores everything that isn’t on display, was much anticipated.

Collective member Julia says ‘Sometimes you can be really surprised when you “meet the objects” – things which didn't seem so special on the database can really shine and some objects which we thought would be huge turned out to be tiny!’

Horniman staff at the Study Collections Centre had laid out our selection of objects on large tables, and there was plenty to catch the eye, and keep our interest.

Collective member Dom (the Horniman’s Community Engagement Coordinator) says ‘I enjoyed the cabinet of curiosities vibe of seeing such a range of objects. I particularly liked the small, ordinary-seeming objects we looked at, like the piece of bark which is actually a fragment of a much larger object used for divination.’

Several of the Collective were particularly fascinated by this figure of a donkey, made up of other interlocking animals including swans, fish, a monkey and a lion (and a man’s face, see if you can spot it). It’s from India, was made before 1837 and is part of a set of 12 similar figures including two people also made of animals.

Seeing our longlist of objects ‘in the flesh’ was the next step towards deciding what will be included in the first Studio exhibition, opening in autumn. Will the horse figure make it into a display case? You’ll just have to wait and see but in the meantime, the last word goes to Julia…

‘Seeing all the objects together, outside of a glass box, gets your imagination going. They conjure worlds. It's a lot to take in but it's very special.’