The Foundling Museum – threads of feeling

I am thinking about the significance of objects as ‘tokens’ and the potential for their use in still-life images for the project. The emotional power of objects is bought home in this collection of textiles shown as ‘Threads of Feeling’.

“The Foundling Museum undertook a remarkable collaboration with John Styles, Research Professor in History at the University of Hertfordshire  to curate the exhibition ‘Threads of Feeling’. John comments, “The process of giving over a baby to the hospital was anonymous. It was a form of adoption, whereby the hospital became the infant’s parent and its previous identity was effaced. The mother’s name was not recorded, but many left personal notes or letters exhorting the hospital to care for their child. Occasionally children were reclaimed. The pieces of fabric in the ledgers were kept, with the expectation that they could be used to identify the child if it was returned to its mother”. In the cases of more than 4,000 babies left at the Foundling Hospital between 1741 and 1760, a small object or token, usually a piece of fabric, was kept as an identifying record. The fabric was either provided by the mother or cut from the child’s clothing by the hospital’s nurses.  Attached to registration forms and bound up into ledgers, these pieces of fabric form the largest collection of everyday textiles surviving in Britain from the eighteenth century.” (text from website)

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The above images show examples of textile tokens, either left with babies or cut from their clothes, from the extraordinary on-line exhibition ‘Threads of Feeling’



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