Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A Belated Welcome to 2011

Happy new year to you, lovely bloggers, one and all!

It's somewhat belatedly that I begin writing in 2011 as I'm afraid the dreaded flu virus has been lurking in the Treasure household since the new year. First it was Mr Treasure's turn to be poorly and then, just when I thought I'd got away with it, I came down with a bug too and so my life up until now has been dominated by warm honey and lemon drinks and rather a lot of sleep. Still, I'm happy to report that that I think the bugs and germs are finally on their way out...hoorah!

In amongst the festive season and fighting off flu, I've been writing about all sorts of things for various magazines. In my line of work I get to write about a whole plethora of fascinating subjects, so I thought I'd tell you all about a museum collection and exhibition that I've just finished writing about for Sew Hip magazine...

‘Flowered all over with cards’. Cotton or linen printed with a playing card pattern. A boy admitted 24 December 1759. Named Joseph Floyd by the Foundling Hospital. Apprenticed 26 July 1769 to John Bedsforth, whitster of Staines, Middlesex. © Coram

The Foundling Museum in London has the largest surviving collection of everyday eighteenth-century textiles. It's rather poignant why they have such a collection, but really interesting none the less. In the eighteenth-century, if mothers found themselves in the desperate position of not being able to look after their children, they took them to The London Foundling Hospital in the hope of giving them a new start. In the case of over 4000 babies left at the Hospital between 1741 and 1760, a small token, usually a piece of fabric, was kept with the child's records by way of an identifier, should a mother ever return to reclaim her child. The Museum's current exhibition, Threads of Feeling, showcases a selection of these textile tokens.

'Flowered lining'. Copperplate print on linen. © Coram

Sometimes a mother would choose what to leave with her baby, but when no token was left, the Hospital's administrators would simply cut a scrap of fabric from the clothes the child was wearing when it arrived.

‘Striped Calimanker.’ Calimanco (a worsted fabrics) woven in stripes and figures. Foundling number 12956. © Coram

Threads of Feeling runs until 6th March 2011, but fear not if you can't get to London in time to see it...there's a permanent online exhibition that you can see from the comfort of your own armchair.

'A bunch of 4 ribbons narrow - Yellow, Blue, Green and Pink'. © Coram

Ribbons were often left with children as they had great symbolic meaning...of separation and parting. Having been tucked away in the Hospital's billet books (where all the children's records were bound and kept together), it's no wonder that the colours of these ribbons are still so vibrant!

'Sleeves red and white speckl'd linen turn'd up red spotted with white'. A baby's sleeve made from linen. © Coram

Sometimes a piece of the child's clothing was kept as a token, just like this sleeve. There are also a number of caps in the Museum's collection that were saved as tokens for some children admitted to the Hospital.

Installation of falling ribbons, created by Annabel Lewis of VV Rouleaux, as part of the Museum's exhibition.

It's not always possible to include everything in a magazine article due to copy deadlines and publication timescales. This was the case with the Curator's Talk early next month, so I promised the Museum I'd mention it here instead!

My article will be published in issue 27 of Sew Hip, but in the meantime, do have a look at the Threads of Feeling exhibition (either in person or online!)


Tonia said...

So glad you're feeling better now! What an amazing exhibition - poignant and fascinating, really hope I can get to see it in time

hensteeth said...

I too have had a vicious bout of flu and I am very sorry that you both have had to endure it too.
Hope you are much recovered now.
A little while ago there was a programme about the Georgians and The Foundling Museum was covered...thank you so much for this post Katie, as I would not have known about the Exhib and I shall do my utmost to visit. xxx

coco said...

Glad you are feeling better.

A really interesting post. I have some Osborne & Little fabric very similar to the playing cards cutting. I wonder if this is where they got their inspiration? I will remember this museum next time I visit London. Thanks for sharing this.

gill said...

Thank you Katie
I followed your link to the online exhibition - well worth a look - even on the screen the little scraps of fabric are incredibly moving
I look forward to your article in Sew Hip

A Bun Can Dance said...

hello my lovely!
Oh this is such an incredible story - I've never heard of anything like this before. The fabrics are beautiful aren't they? And the whole story is so very poignant for us in our current circumstances. Amazing.
We're finding out about life story books/collections for (and about) our adopted children - this links in with it so well.
Thank you for sharing.
Sending you a big hug and lots of love - glad you're feeling brighter!
D x

Purrfect Haven said...

hope you are continuing to feel better? What an amazing post and so moving... what a great thing that exhibits like this happen and a blogger such as you showcases it. Lovely! Love Helen and the furry boys xx

hensteeth said...

Me again Katie...I have put a link to you and another brilliant review of this exhibition on my latest post...hope this is ok. Thanks very much again...can't wait to visit.

The Devil Makes Work said...

Glad you're feeling better Katie. That exhibition looks amazing, I am going to try and go.

Hope to see you soon


A Mermaid's Tale said...

The combination of scraps of vintage textile and handwritten document is just heaven! I do hope this exhibition is still on when I go to London in March. Such a poignant subject too. Managed to avoid the dreaded flu bug so far..... but it's probably only a matter of time before I succumb!
I'm going to look out for the Sew Hip mag and your article. Thanks for sharing!
Christine x

Anonymous said...

I thank hens teeeth for getting me here to discover theon line exhibition.

When I read about this in Selvedge it touched my heart. I am currently researchign an art projecy that follws an institution, and the foundling one resonates so strongly.

Thanks for posting.

Lois Parker said...

HI Katie
finally got to see this show. I reckon we could do a small piece for the Ledbury exhition based on the items you all gave me last year - I hadnt realised before that quite a few of the samples were just cut off the children's clothing by the staff, so that makes it easier to cope with the variety of sizes.

Little Miss P xx said...

Hi Katie
lovely post- what a moving story. I'll be spending some time this afternoon looking at the online exhibition with a nice cup of tea (and probably a tissue!)
Lisa x