Horniman Museum: Collections People Stories: Crossing Borders

We are currently working with the Horniman Museum again. If you aren’t familiar with the museum then you can get a quick overview from this video, which we made for them a while back.

The Horniman is currently engaged in a massive project to re-look at their anthropology collection but that is all explained here!

We filmed a community event as part of CPS called Crossing Borders which was run by the museum in collaboration with the Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers. There were a series of workshops and events for the public on the theme of Food and Feasting. In the main square there was an installation of plates that had been designed by participants of a workshop run by Seiwa Cunningham at SDCAS. The plates represented personal thoughts, ideas and feelings on the day’s theme. Seiwa was was also present encouraging children to draw their own favourite foods on paper plates so they could decide what food they would take to a feast. She was very impressed by the healthy choices the children were making but I definitely saw a few plates of chocolate and chicken ‘n’ chips!

A Banquet of Memories
A Banquet of Memories

There was a lovely workshop with Abeba, an Eritrean woman, who demonstrated the traditional making of Eritrean Coffee. This is known as the Coffee Ceremony. I am not a huge fan of coffee myself but the smell of the coffee as it was roasting was absolutely delicious. Abeba had also cooked a large loaf of traditional bread and provided plenty of popcorn, a standard accompaniment, for everyone to be able to have with their taste of coffee once it was ready. The atmosphere was very gentle and everyone seemed to really enjoy the coffee. While the smell of the roasting was tempting I still couldn’t steel myself to taste to the final product.

Eritrean Coffee Ceremony
Eritrean Coffee Ceremony

We also spoke to storyteller Debbie Guneratne, who was telling stories from Sri Lanka, and recorded a workshop where Ahmadzia helped children make their own kites from tissue paper and a bits of old window blinds. His skill was very clear as he had grown up making these kites in Afghanistan. It really made me think of the wonderful book The Kite Runner and the children in that book making, flying and competing with their kites. Although it is quite a complex activity the children (and adults) had a unique experience and it was really thrilling when Ahmadzia was able to make them fly even indoors in the workshop room.

Kite Flying
Kite Flying

It was a really amazing day for us and within four hours, as well as recording some great footage for the video (coming soon!),we had had a fascinating glimpse into many varied cultures and spoken to so many nice and interesting people and played with some bonkers children who I even let take over the camera for a while… but not too long!


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