Having found the Foundling Museum several years ago as a source of inspiration for my own textile work (as above*), and now a place of work, I am probably more than a bit biased when recommending their temporary exhibitions. However, their exhibition Found, curated by Cornelia Parker is, I think, one of their best.
Over 60 artists have contributed with either found objects or work that relates to the subject of things found (and lost). Many of the pieces on display are quite ordinary things, (some are literally rubbish), but each one has a remarkable story. Several pieces are textiles or look like textiles, so as this is a textile themed blog I will highlight these first:
In the entrance hall is Yinke Shonibare's Trumpet Boy, beautifully dressed in bright African style fabrics and a found trumpet, almost heralding the visitors' arrival. In the introductory gallery, Sue Pritchard has contributed fragments of her grandfather's old sailor suit alongside a photo and spade - telling a story of how they have become a symbol of love and hardship. Laura Ford found items on her daily school run, which she used to create Glove Boy - who is now exploring the first floor landing (and I'm sure comes alive at night). In the main exhibition area, Tacita Dean says she found an embroidery - although it is actually a woven fabric, (or perhaps this is a case of post-modern irony?) Gavin Turk's Nomad looks like a fabric sleeping bag hiding its occupant, but is in fact made of bronze.
But there are also several other (non-textile) works that I feel I should mention - Anthony Gormley's Iron Baby, alone in an empty room has been picked out as the favourite of many visitors as is Dad's Stick a video work (and paint stick) by John Smith, which I found very moving. Ron Arad's 1951 is, like the paper note tokens, a collection of people's lives barely known. Probably the tiniest exhibit is a piece of Hans Christian Anderson's blotting paper.
This is an exhibition to make you sad, to make you laugh, to make you think. As was said on a recent review of the exhibition (BBC Radio 4's Saturday Review), it is also an exhibition to make you look and make you read - to make you explore. It is worth taking time to read the labels; perhaps have a cup of coffee/tea halfway through. It is not an exhibition you can appreciate with a quick view. Personally, I think this is one exhibition not to be missed.
The Found exhibition continues until 4 September 2016. The Foundling Museum is open Tuesday-Sundays and can be found at Brunswick Square, London, WC1N. Full adult admission fee - £10.25 (check website for concessions) - children free.
Lovely cafe too.
*my work displayed at The Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church in 2013, and relating to research into the life of Margaret Larney, a story I found of a mother who left two children at the Foundling Hospital in the 1750s, whilst she was in Newgate Jail. (Photo by Andrew Willis.)