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Object in Focus 2022

Fri 22 April 2022

Sawfish installed to inspire staff and students on the climate emergency

Object in Focus is an annual loans programme funded by Arts Council England which aims to improve access to the Horniman Museum and Gardens’ collections by sharing them with partner organisations.

For 2022, Trinity Laban is hosting a selection of 100-year-old sawfish specimens at the Faculty of Dance in Deptford. The installation will inspire our Learning and Participation programmes and the wider Trinity Laban community across summer term activities.

Sawfish are predators that belong to a unique group of fish called Chondrichthyes, which includes stingrays and sharks, and are special because their entire skeleton is made up of just cartilage.

Despite chondrichthyans having existed for over 400 million years, their survival is now threatened by climate change. Sawfish are found in tropical and subtropical areas, in shallow coastal wasters or estuaries – habitats that will be severely impacted by rising sea levels, caused by melting ice sheets and glaciers.

The Horniman’s Senior Curator of Natural Sciences Dr Emma Nicholls shares further insights about the sawfish in a short YouTube video.

Hosting and creatively responding to the Object in Focus forms part of our wider engagement with Lewisham’s year as London Borough of Culture, which includes a programme of talks, discussions, debates, and workshops to address local climate issues, as well as the global climate crisis.

Trinity Laban Project Manager Laura Woods comments –

“The annual Horniman Object in Focus heralds the start of Trinity Laban’s summer term and a busy period of creativity for our children, youth and adult programmes.  This year feels particularly special since our groups will be able to view the object in person and get involved with Lewisham Borough of Culture’s call to action.  Climate emergency is something that unites us all and I look forward to seeing how these themes inspire creativity within our Trinity Laban community.”

Sarah Sinka, Object in Focus Project Coordinator at the Horniman, comments –

“For this year’s loan, we not only looked at objects that would work well in the wonderful space in the Laban Building, but also a topic that ties into the Borough of Culture’s theme of the climate emergency. All five species of sawfish are likely to be impacted by climate change – as sea levels rise, their shallow water habitats are at risk of disappearing. I’m delighted that the Horniman has been given an opportunity to highlight the plight of these incredible animals, and look forward to seeing how the objects are interpreted by the groups this year.”

The Horniman’s Sawfish will be on display at the Laban Building until mid-July 2022.

Trinity Laban has collaborated with the Museum for over a decade. To find out more about the partnership, visit our Horniman page.

Image credit: Horniman Museum and Gardens.