An elephant’s foot pad as a tray, delicate leaf skeletons, and religious embroideries can only sum up one period - whilst white blank walls, hard surfaces and nothing else can only mean another: yet both are homes, although one hundred years apart as the fascinating temporary exhibition Home Sweet Home: 200 years of home furnishings reveals.
Drawing on the museum’s extensive collections, this amazing exhibition is a real eye-opener as it encourages the visitor to question their own journey in making a house or room into a home. Why do we buy that particular lamp or cushion, and why do we go for that look - what are we trying to say about ourselves? For over 200 years, manufacturers have been making things that people have bought to create their homes - designs are imagined, sold as an aspiration, and the customer buys it and in turn, the dream of the stylish interior.
To help with that, modern retailers such as Dunelm have created a desirable ‘look’, a self-contained off-the-shelf package. Yet as the exhibition shows, 100 years ago Horsham had its own Victorian designer who created a ‘look’. Thomas Honywood - who used the then marvel of photography - created fabrics, wallpaper, picture frames and even tiles with his unique exquisite fern images, and sold a powerful image to nature-loving Victorians.
The exhibition uses the often neglected probate lists - legal documents drawn up on the death of an individual listing out contents of each room. In the early 18th century there was quite simply less ‘stuff’ in the home. But thanks to growing wealth, manufacturing and fashion, the lists grew longer and longer - and by the early Edwardian period they are almost book-length, describing in fascinating detail the home furnishings of local houses.
Home Sweet Home reveals the ingenuity and diversity of items that people bought to create a home, a space they had control over and could call their own. The exhibition looks at how chairs have changed both shape and materials, from a gothic-style hall chair to the wicker plastic two-tone 1960s chair. As technology changed, it shows how homes were lit, how we spent leisure time with polyphones to record players to radios, or soft furnishings from table cloths hand embroidered to quilts, to curtains and drapes - the exhibition will feature them all.
Horsham Museum & Art Gallery are delighted to announce that Dunelm, who have recently opened in Horsham, are sponsoring the exhibition Home Sweet Home: 200 years of home furnishings. As Dunelm’s up-to-date catalogue shows, colour and objects are now flooding back in to the home, continuing a 200 year old tradition where people want to be surrounded by items (compared to that recent blip of minimalism): Home Sweet Home reflects how what might be considered as ‘stuff’ becomes that magical ingredient that makes a house a home.