Every summer, the Horniman hosts a large outdoor event and, for the second year, we were invited to capture the community coming together in Forest Hill. This yeah, Africa was the theme for the whole of the summer in the museum and gardens inspired by their incredible African collections. Africarnival was the culmination of all the events and activities that had happened before it.
We were really struck by the scale of the event and the incredible atmosphere across the gardens as audiences watched acrobats, danced to live bands, paraded in the carnival, took dance workshops, ate Ghanian street foods and generally smiled from ear to ear. It was truly joyous to share in the experience with such a diverse crowd that could only be found in London.
To mark the opening of their new display, At Home With Music, the Horniman asked us to film a music recital. The instrument was a beautiful 1772 Kirckman harpsichord which has been restored into playing condition specifically for this new display.
This was a live event at the opening of the new display and the harpsichord is displayed fairly flat against a wall along a narrow corridor between stunning display cases. There was a challenge then to get a range of footage in a dark, tight and busy environment that would also best respect the music and occasion. To do this we arrived early to insert a camera in overhead ceiling vent and employed a gopro which sat almost directly on the keyboard giving us a bird’s eye and an ant’s eye view of the proceedings.
The pieces we recorded were the two new compositions that had won a competition run by the Horniman to mark the opening of the new exhibition and restoration of the harpsichord. They were wonderfully played by Jane Chapman, who was very accommodating to our technical discussions, and really brought the new display to life with her performances.
The Sprawl by Adam W. Stafford
Vine by Tim Watts
The exhibition is a permanent new display, curated by Mimi Waitzman and is a collection of keyboard instruments from the V&A and Horniman collections. Unsurprisingly it can be found in the museum’s music gallery and is very inviting, the only problem is trying not to touch the very welcoming keyboards and stunning pieces on open display.
We recently captured a wonderful performance at Dulwich Picture Gallery that was the culmination of eight weeks work by the twenty strong group of singers and composers.
This interesting group of singers and songwriters were brought together through a collaboration by Dulwich Picture Gallery and English Touring Opera. Inspired by an ETO programme called Turtle Song, the Gallery brought together a group of dementia patients and their carers for a second year. The group were joined by a number of professional musicians and some students from Dulwich College. Together the whole group wrote lyrics and songs inspired by the stunning collection at the Gallery. Watch our video documenting the process to find out more:
This was a particularly moving performance for me as my grandfather suffers from alzheimers and there was a lovely couple involved who reminded me of my grandparents, only, in their case, it is the woman who has dementia. It was so inspiring to watch all of the group sing together and know that dementia was not part of the performance or the process; something to accommodate and understand but never the focus. The focus was on creativity and making something as a group in the present. The final pieces were wonderful and I am still singing some of the songs weeks after the final performance.
It was a really special opportunity to work on a longer project with two great groups and a very supportive team. We really felt part of the project and developed some wonderful relationships with the participants. It was fantastic to share their final performance with them.
We asked visitors why the museum was their museum of the year and to sum up all the aspects of the museum in one word. It was a really fun video to make and a pleasure to see how much people love the museum. We didn’t struggle to get positive comments but we did end up capturing more than enough footage and so we have had to cut many glowing reviews to get it down to a consumable size.
Now let us know if you have been to the museum and what you think of it in the comments!
UPDATE… just seen this cute thing via Twitter…. a walrus wearing our video as an accessory. acapmedia fashion coming to a market stall near you soon.
Following the Horniman being announced as a finalist in the Art Fund Museum of the Year award we were asked to come in on Thursday and get a flavour of their visitors’ reaction to the news and we had a really great time.
We spoke to all sorts of visitors: some on their first visit, families who go two or three times a week, people who have been visiting for 60 years or more, teenagers, toddlers, parents, grandparents and people from all over the world.
The message was clear; people really love the museum and gardens. They use it to research design, culture, to learn about animals, entertain children, engage in art activities, to enjoy the gardens, to listen to music both indoors and out… the reasons are endless and different to each person or group we spoke to. We asked visitors to sum up the Horniman in one word and here are a few of the things they said:
Video coming soon…
Good Luck Horniman!
On a side note, we also took these pictures when we popped into the aquarium at the end of the day:
The Horniman Youth Panel presented a day of activities for young people and families on a Brazilian or Amazonian theme to coincide with the opening of the new Amazon Adventure exhibition.
There was a whole host of activities on and this video is edited to the music of the BossaRockers who performed three sets in the main Gallery Square area of the museum. Visitors and Staff alike seemed to be enjoying their music filling the spaces between the galleries and bringing an upbeat but relaxed atmosphere to the day.
For familes with young children the highlights seemed to be the face painting which was handled by members of the youth panel. But it wasn’t just the children getting their faces painted.
In the same room there was an opportunity for children to decorate or draw an Amazonian animal and add it to the giant poster that stretched across the whole room. Lot’s of very focused young artists contributed to the finished frieze.
One of the things that really caught the imagination of the young people though seemed to be the photobox that was set up in the Hands on gallery.
Some Amazon themed props – as well as some cowboy hats and fezes – were available for posing in and with. It looked so much fun we couldn’t really resist it ourselves!
The most exciting/repulsive/hilarious/stomach turning part of the day waz the Comamos Insectos activity that pitted contenders against their taste buds to eat a number of disgusting flies, bugs, worms, larvae, grasshoppers and even scorpions!
There was a lot of bravado and a lot of genuine courage. I was so grateful I could refuse on the grounds of vegetarianism cos there nothing that looked appealing on that menu!
A really vibrant day that was especially impressive as it was organised and run by the Youth Panel Members themselves!
Today the Horniman has launched their new overview video which was lovingly crafted by acapmedia.
The Horniman Museum is a “Gem”, a “Hidden Treasure”, a “Local Curiosity” but it is also a world class museum with disparate collections. Our challenge was to capture the feeling of this wonderfully diverse organisation, covering all the collections, galleries, activities and never forgetting the stunning gardens into a short concise video that would appeal to past and regular visitors but also encourage those who hadn’t visited before to make their way down to Forest Hill in South London (really rather easy thanks to the overland and many direct trains from London Bridge and Victoria) to see it all for themselves.
It took a little while to arrange time to meet with all the curators and staff members as everyone was always very busy but when we did manage to pin anyone down they were very generous with their time and remarkably enthusiastic to share their knowledge. So enthusiastic we sometime felt rude reminding everyone that their gallery or section could only be featured for a very short time. We learnt a great deal about fossils, Ethiopian instruments, coral reefs and African puppets that could never fit into this video so you will just have to pop along yourself to find out more.
Enthusiasm was a recurring “problem” as members of the public we interviewed had so much to say about the museum: 80year olds telling us about their visits there as children, annual visits from Scotland, Jamaica, Thailand and…Ilford, people meeting old friends and new friends. Visitors really seem to take the museum to heart and want to share everything. As one of our interviewees says in the film, “Everything you see is eye opening.” but not everything edits down well into a short video so we have had to leave out some lovely moments.
As well as having to heavily edit our interviews we also had to be ruthless in our choice of objects to show in the video. We could never have shown everything and, of course, we wanted to leave some surprises. The Horniman’s Collections are so exciting we were very strict with ourselves in each gallery not to film everything but to pick out some highlights and the curators were very helpful in suggesting some of their favourites. Additionally the museum is a very dynamic place and doesn’t stand still so we couldn’t film the temporary gallery that changes regularly, we couldn’t film some favourite objects because they were on loan to other museums and, as regular visitors know, the gardens have been beautifully regenerated. The film stands still but the museum never does so we very much stuck to a theme of capturing a flavour of the museum because a snap shot is impossible and perhaps that message is shared by including some archive photos that show the growth and development of the museum.
Something that many of the visitors commented on was how much the museum has changed over the years. We hope the video celebrates and shows the growth of the museum and its audiences over the years.
We were very happy as well to work with Ceridwen Smith, talented actress and resident of Forest Hill who lends her voice to the film and brings the narrative of the museum to life. Her enthusiasm for the museum was clear when we recorded and I think it shines through in the video. She is the first person to thank in our list of thanks that also include, Adrian Murphy and Victoria Brightman from the Horniman Museum as well as all the staff and visitors who shared their stories with us from families through storytellers to curators and directors, the video would not have been what it is without all your help.
You can view the video here and don’t forget to like and share with your friends: