The Horniman Residency

Current project Featured Past Project 2016 2017 2018

Annual research residency from Artquest in partnership with the Horniman Museum and Gardens. The 2017 residency is focused on the museum’s music collection and has been awarded to artist Alex Julyan

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Residency Despatch

Over the course of the residency Artquest will be conducting a series of interviews with the artist and curators to get an insight into how practitioners might engage with museum collections and vice versa. In this first interview, residency artist Alex Julyan talks about her practice, the approach she’s taken to the music collection at the museum and the discoveries she’s made within.

About the 2017 Selected Artist

Alex Julyan bases her practice in London. Her work is about the ways we encounter the everyday, collectively and individually. Her aim is to disrupt and reconfigure that experience.

Working with poor materials and in public spaces she makes objects, drawings, films and live events that provoke conversation, laughter and intrigue. Many of her projects are collaborative and defined by interactions and exchanges across other disciplines and with the public. For the last three years her work as a Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow has focused on the built environment, culminating in a 5-month construction project: The Poplar Pavilion.

Alex has worked closely with galleries and museums throughout her career. During her residency at the Horniman she will create a public conversation between musical instruments in the collection and the musical experiences of visitors.

Key Dates

  • Residency research period: October – December 2017
  • Residency closing event: Spring 2018

The Award

The selected artists receives

  • An award of £3000 to engage with the work and collections of the museum
  • An additional award of £850 towards a public facing event showcasing the thinking and research undertaken during the residency
  • Privileged access to museum’s music collection objects and curators

In 2017 The Horniman Museum and Gardens was particularly interested in developing relationships with an artist who wanted to engage with people as well as the Music collections.

Residency outcomes

The awarded artist will:

  • Visit the museum and engage with the music collection at least one day a week over the research period (October – December 2017)
  • Participate in x 3 interviews over the residency period which will be recorded and hosted on Artquest and partner websites.
  • Produce online content (articles, video, interviews, blog etc) about their experiences on the residency (Details to be decided in conversation with Artquest)
  • Work with Artquest and the Horniman Museum and Gardens to organise a closing event to showcase their thinking, research and work over the period of the residency


The Horniman Museum and Gardens was established by Tea Trader and philanthropist Frederick John Horniman, who  began collecting objects, specimens and artefacts ‘illustrating natural history and the arts and handicrafts of various peoples of the world’ from around 1860. His overarching mission was to ‘bring the world to Forest Hill’ and educate and enrich the lives of the local community.

The Museum began life in the Horniman Family’s London Road Residency which became known as the Surrey House Museum. In 1898, Mr Horniman decided to erect a more suitable public museum in which the collections could be adequately displayed and appreciated. The architect Charles Harrison Townsend was commissioned to design the new museum. The Museum and Gardens were formally opened to the public on 29 June 1901. The Horniman family continued to take an active interest in the museum donating objects and large collections of books to the library.

The Horniman Residency 2016

The 2016 Residency was awarded to Joshua Sofaer (b. 1972 Cambridge, England), an artist who is centrally concerned with modes of collaboration and participation, which he explores through social sculpture, performance, installation, exhibition and publication. After a BA in Drama & English at Bristol University, Joshua went on to complete an MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design and was subsequently awarded a PhD from Dartington College of Arts. Sofaer was a winner of the first Bank of America CREATE Art Award and was the first Artist Fellow on the 2010/11 Clore Leadership Programme.

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Equally as comfortable in the clean white gallery, the dramatic curtained stage of the opera house, the carefully positioned vitrine of the museum, the shared areas of public space, and the domestic personalised rooms of private homes, what draws Sofaer’s diverse practices together is a concern with how audiences engage with the world as a place of potentiality. People’s experience is key, as are the material cultures they choose to surround themselves with. Recurring themes of his work include ‘rubbish’: what we choose to throw away; ‘collections’: what we choose to keep; and, ‘names’: how what we are called becomes who we are.

Joshua  produced a blog about his experiences on the residency that you can read here.

In this  series of  interviews, artist Joshua Sofaer introduces his practice and talks with Horniman Museum and Artquest about his discoveries during the residency.