Saturday, 26 February 2011

Threads of Feeling

Since moving out of London at the end of last year, I haven't really missed much about the capital city apart from seeing friends. But I wish I was there to see the Threads of Feeling exhibition at the Foundling Museum.

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The Foundling Hospital was set up by philanthropist Thomas Coram in Brunswick Square, Bloomsbury, to take in abandoned children. Between 1741 and 1760, the process of giving up a child to the hospital was anonymous. However, just in case the family fortunes changed and the child was able to be reclaimed, around 4000 babies placed in the care of Coram's hospital were left with a small token or object which could be used as identification. Many of these tokens were small pieces of textiles, embroidery and ribbon, either provided by the mother or cut from the child's clothing. These tokens were then attached the the child's registration documents and stored away for centuries.

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The Coram archive of fabrics has become the best collection of everyday historical fabrics that exists today. It reveals what everyday people, particularly women, wore on a daily basis, as opposed to the rich fabrics of the aristocracy. It is also a moving social testament of the love and care with which mothers left their children in the hope that they would have a better life.

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The Threads of Feeling exhibition lasts until March 6th 2011 so unfortunately I won't get a chance to see it. But if you're Capital bound, pop along. It looks like a fascinating and poignant trip.

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