Since January 2015 a group of second year BA (Hons) Illustration and Visual Media students have been making work in response to the story of the Foundling Hospital and the Foundling Museum’s Collection.
The Foundling Hospital, which continues today as the children’s charity Coram, was established in 1739 by the philanthropist Thomas Coram to care for babies at risk of abandonment. Instrumental in helping Coram realise his vision were the artist William Hogarth and the composer George Frideric Handel. Their creative generosity set the template for the ways in which the arts can support philanthropy.
Working closely with Emma Middleton, the Curator of artists’ projects at the Museum, the students have been given a tour of the collection, attended a workshop at the Museum and have had access to archival material. From this the student have developed their own visual interpretations of the Foundling children’s stories and the legacy of the Foundling Hospital.
The results have been made into an illustrated publication designed by students Megan Ellis, Lauren Hackett and Nadine Smoczynski, which can be viewed in the Museum’s Introductory Gallery from November. Reflecting on the project, Nadine says, “I am extremely grateful for this opportunity, to be the lead designer of the publication from its inception to the final production has been both a turbulent and enriching experience. Working so closely with a major London Museum has been an invaluable experience for my professional development.”
A selection of artwork created during the project can be seen in a pop-up exhibition at the Foundling Museum on Monday 29 June with a Private View from 6-7.30pm. The show will present the many ways in which the Museum has inspired students on BA (Hons) Illustration and Visual Media to interrogate archival material and consider notions of memory, childhood and loss.
Federico Piccolo says of his series of drawings ‘Founds’, “my work seeks to capture the mood of the children from the Foundling Hospital, their undefined identities and facial expressions recalling misty doubtful futures and lost pasts.” Amelia Ward’s prints ‘The growth of silence’ are inspired by the Foundling Hospital’s dining table, and its history of children eating their meals in silence around it, etching marks on its surface to substitute for the words they weren’t permitted to speak.
The Foundling Stories project was organised by BA (Hons) Illustration and Visual Media tutor Charley Peters, who says of the project, “the Foundling Museum is a testament to creative spirit and what it can achieve to instigate social change. The history of the Foundling hospital and the stories of the Foundlings have provided much rich – but also challenging – material for us to explore.
The work produced during the project demonstrates that images can often say more than words about sensitive and complex subjects. We are all very grateful for the generous amount of time and energy that Emma Middleton and the rest of the Foundling Museum staff have contributed to the project.”
The Foundling Stories exhibition at the Foundling Museum is curated by Emma Middleton, Charley Peters, BA (Hons) Illustration and Visual Media tutor Rachel Taylor and students Rossetta Coupland and Enaitz Greaney.
To attend the Private View please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org