Lost and found

Earlier this month I was invited to the opening of two exhibitions at the Foundling Museum in London. (Click on the photos to view them larger.)

 Statue of Thomas Coram who established the Foundling Hospital in 1739 to care for babies at risk of abandonment.

I arrived early so wandered into Brunswick Square Gardens and read the information boards, I learned that in 1790 the Foundling Hospital lost their government funding and had to sell off part of their land to a property developer who built the surrounding terraced town-houses and the garden square. Another sign mentioned a sculpture of a lost mitten by Tracey Emin on the railing between the original hospital building which is now the museum and the modern Coram buildings, home of the children's charity today. 
 Tracey Emin's poignant 'lost mitten' sculpture.

The exhibition I'd looked forward to seeing was of Jackie Morris's original illustrations for The Lost Words, with poems by Robert Macfarlane. The book is a response to the feeling that children ... and adults ... are losing touch with nature. Nature words and the names of animals and plants are dropping out of day to day vocabulary and as a result from the thoughts and experiences of many people. 

 'The Lost Words' is a beautiful large format book.

In the exhibition Robert's poems have been elegantly printed on large sheets of paper and are displayed alongside Jackie's beautiful watercolours (I wasn't allowed to take photos) and many of the illustrations are illuminated with gold-leaf backgrounds. The effect is rather like walking inside a medieval illuminated book.

 My favourite poem in the book, 'Newt'.

I spent a long time enjoying reading the poems and looking at the paintings. It's almost impossible to pick a favourite but I loved Newt's imagined conversation with a coot. And Conker is a beautiful fable telling how a cabinet-maker, king and engineer cannot make a conker ... yet a tree can.

Rooks and conkers, one of the beautiful watercolours by Jackie Morris.

Also at the Foundling Museum is another exhibition of original illustrations, these are by Michael Foreman and illustrate Michael Morpurgo's new book 'Lucky Button', the story reveals life in the Foundling Hospital in the 18th century and a meeting with the child prodigy Mozart. The original illustrations are displayed with Michael Foreman's notes and corrections, showing the creative process.

 Fragments of fabric were left by mothers whose babies were taken in by the Foundling Hospital.

Among the other displays in the Foundling Museum are ledgers recording babies and children left by their mothers, alongside the name of the child, date and notes there is a fragment of cloth pinned to the page ... a means of identification in the event of the mother being able to return to take her child back. These scraps of fabric now form the largest collection of 18th century everyday textiles ... linens, worsteds, sprigged cotton, scraps of ribbon. I bought this book to read more about them.

My walking route.

After the early morning storms the day was bright and breezy, so I enjoyed the walk back to King's Cross and over the Regent Canal to the newly developed area around Granary Square. Just around the corner form Central St Martin's Art College is the House of Illustration ... and two more excellent  exhibitions. Gerald Scarf - Stage and Screen shows the original artwork for his designs for theatre, film and animated cartoons, I was particularly interested to see how the drawings were interpreted into costumes for theatre and opera. If you go to the exhibition, I can recommend listening to a radio programme I happened to hear last week, 'Inside the mind of Gerald Scarf', it was fascinating to hear the experts' analyse how they thought Scarf's brain determined how his ilustrations depict strange human-animal creatures ... whereas Scarf himself seems to see it as fulfilling the brief and getting the job done.

One of Lucinda Rogers meticulously observed drawings of Ridley Road Market.

The other illustration exhibition is Lucinda Rogers: On Gentrification - Drawings of Ridley Road Market. You can read more about Lucinda and her work recording urban street scenes that will be lost to redevelopment, on the excellent Spitalfields Life Blog. The pen and ink illustrations are large scale and full of life and immediacy that photographs could never capture. I love the different coloured inks she uses and the limited use of paint. Let your eyes follow her pen lines exploring what she sees.

 The Regent Canal.

I crossed the Regent Canal on the York Way bridge, looking down at the tow-path I watched the street cleaner feeding the moorhens with scraps of bread he'd collected in a bag hanging on the handle of his cart.

I decided not to get the tube but walk to Camden Passage, my route was along Pentonville Road ... up hill all the way. I took a detour down Penton Street and White Lion Street to get away from the traffic.

Loop, a treat for yarn lovers!

Eventually I reached Camden Passage, a quiet narrow lane of small indie shops and caf├ęs ... well worth a detour and a great place for people watching and just wandering and looking.

From here it was easy to get the tube to start my journey home ... gosh! Angel station is very very deep, like travelling into the bowels of the earth ... or down to the depths of that hill I'd walked up earlier.


  1. Thank you for the links. Celia. I'll see if I can get a loop of the Scarfe interview. I have to take my machine to a service chap-ants got into it and I don't want to mess with the motor...I'll re-read later.

    1. Hello D, hope you can listen to the Scarfe interview. Enjoy the links. Good luck evicting the ants! We have a scheduled power cut later today so the utility crew can safely cut trees back along the sunken lane into the village.

  2. I have been enjoying reading my copy of the Lost Words, it is a sumptuous book.

    1. Isn't it beautiful! I like how each poem has a different style and Jackie's illustrations are so exquisite ... I met her at the exhibition and we looked at the Lucky Button exhibition together.

    2. I had not heard of the Lost Words until now, thank you for writing about it. It looks such a beautiful book that I am very tempted to purchase a copy right now!

    3. I'm sure you'll enjoy the book Jill.

  3. Looks like you had a great time. I have just changed you blog link to this new one. Don

  4. Dear Celia, thank you for letting us travel along with you on your London day. Every one of the places you visited would also have interested me. (Several years ago on my first visit to Spitalfields for a Spitalfields Life book launch party, I met Lucinda Rogers who was doing large on site drawings of the event. How amazing it was to be included in one of her drawings!). Every London visit requires a stop at Loop...a house of treasures and inspiration. xo

    1. Lucinda Rogers work is amazing, how interesting to have seen her work and be including in the drawing. I would like to own all the yarn in Loop, but restrained myself to 2 modestly priced skeins.


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