Saturday, 3 December 2011

Trip to the Foundling Museum, London

I LOVE London.  Every so often my sister, mum and I take a trip down to London, some 30 miles away, to trek around old haunts, especially the City where we used to live many moons ago.  We decided this time to go to the Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury and Karen, my sister, volunteered to drive as we didn't want to spend a small fortune going by train.  Karen is also fearless and pretty familiar with the area ~ you have to be both those things to contemplate driving in London.  Personally, I'd choose to use the tube and buses every time.

The Foundling Museum was built near the site of the old Foundling Hospital, a charity founded by Thomas Coram in 1741 to provide a home for abandoned and/or destitute children.  The Museum is utterly fascinating, tracing the history of the Hospital with paintings, audio recordings and artifacts.  Particularly poignant was the display of small tokens, a lock of hair, a tiny bracelet, a coin, for example, which were left by mothers who had to take their children there, due to their own desperate circumstances.  The tokens could identify the child should the mother become able to return to collect him/her in better times. 

I loved this museum because it combined my interests in both social history and art. The original 18th Century interiors house works of art by some well-known British artists such as William Hogarth (a founding governor of the Hospital), Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds. Paintings and sculptures were donated to the Hospital, often by the artists themselves, to support Britain's first home for abandoned children.

"The Pinch of Poverty" by Thomas Benjamin Kennington, 1891.  This particular painting caught my eye as I was going up the grand staircase to the next floor.  It tells a story, rather sad but very 'real' none-the-less ... and is more arresting than commissioned portraits of well-heeled patrons, I think.

 Anyway, we had a great day out despite the mishap that happened when we arrived at the museum.  I'll talk about the flat tyre debacle in the next post.  I'm also starting a new drawing of winter cyclamen from my own photo (wahaaay!).  To be continued .....

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