Drawing On Childhood

The Foundling Museum. Running until 01 May 2016.

Some infamous orphans include Peter Pan, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, James and the Giant Peach, Superman, Jane Eyre and The Boy Who Lived and they are being celebrated at the Foundling Museum for a special exhibition. They inhabit the Bloomsbury building, located where the Thomas Coram Foundling Hospital, the country’s first children’s charity and public art gallery, used to originally exist; during the initial days, Gin Lane printmaker William Hogarth and George Frederic Handel tackled art and entertainment at the venue, respectively.

The exhibitions in Drawing On Childhood are rare in their nature even though the illustrations are all courtesy of children’s storybooks. Woodcuts and watercolours demonstrate horror-filled stories too engrossing to put down – scary and dark, these tales talk about kids who were made into orphans, and then eventually adopted, fostered or found. The exhibition wants to talk about the social relevance of looked-after children: Rapunzel’s parents abandoned their child upon birth, and James (Totter) became an orphan when he was only a young boy. Famed illustrators and artists displaying their artworks is inclusive of Quentin Blake, George Cruikshank, David Hockney and Arthur Rackham.

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