the horniman

(Yes, it’s really pronounced that way.) Today I took my parents and two good friends from Brussels to the Horniman Museum in southeast London. I’ve only visited a few times, but it’s such a great place for sketching that I’m always meaning to go back. It’s this weird and wonderful collection of taxidermied animals, musical instruments, ethnographical stuff and gardens, with a very decent cafe.

Here’s something that always makes me laugh, a very old walrus, stuffed by a taxidermist who’d never seen a walrus and had no idea they were supposed to have lots of wrinkles and folds. So he just kept stuffing and the thing’s the size of a small car.

I only managed a couple fleeting sketches in the musical instruments section, but here they are:

My dad and I were very intrigued by this instrument, a glass armonica. It works on the same principle as that party trick where we all sit around the table rubbing our fingers around the tops of our wine glasses. Somehow the cylinder gets wet and the person playing it moves their finger along it to get the same sound. I really wanted to have a go, too bad it’s locked up in the case.

Even though we couldn’t play any of the instruments, the museum had these lit panels where you could look up the instrument and hear a recording of it being played, so we messed around with that for awhile.

In the evening, I got to meet Niamh Sharkey (Niamh pronounced ‘Neev’), whose work really influenced me when I first started illustrating, particularly her book, The Gigantic Turnip. (Stuart doesn’t usually buy picture books, but he saw it in a bookshop window and brought it home for me because he was so sure I’d like it, and he was right.) The party launched an exhibition of her latest book, Cinderella with Max Eilenberg at the Ilustration Cupboard. Eilenberg, Sharkey’s family from Dublin and the Walker Books gang was there, including her editor, David Lloyd, Louise Power and Deirdre McDermott. (I was very interested to learn that McDermott was the designer for Jonny Hannah’s amazing book Hot Jazz Special.)

I am getting very behind on e-mails. I was planning to do some catching up tonight but I think I will go to bed.

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