The Foundling Residency

Past Project 2015

The Foundling Residency was an annual research residency which ran from 2013-2015, in partnership with the Foundling Museum

Responding to the difficulty artists with caring responsibilities have in undertaking focussed research time or residencies, and to highlight the rich resource that smaller museums in London provide, this opportunity allowed an artist to engage with the collections, curators and work of the Museum and undertake a period of research to develop their practice and, potentially, a new body of work. The Foundling Residency was replaced with the Horniman Residency in 2016.

Successful applicants received:

  • A bursary of £3000 to undertake a period of research at the Foundling Museum
  • Access to parts of the Foundling Museum’s collections and curators
  • Support in presenting their research and work in a public facing event

Three programmes were run as part of this residency:

Lucy Cash – 2013

Since 2001 Cash’s practice has encompassed performance, film and visual art. Her background in collaborative performance‐making informs her approach to the work she now makes in different media and she continues to explore unconventional forms of collaboration with many different kinds of people and at different points in her process. Over the period of the residency, Cash produced a blog about her experiences and approach to engaging with the Museum’s Collection, staff and visitors.

On completing her residency Cash invited writer Deborah Levy to join her in conversation about her research at the museum, notebooks, the slipperiness of time, the politics of motherhood and learning how to interrupt.

Tom Railton – 2014

2014 was the Museum’s 10th anniversary, the 275th anniversary of the granting of the Royal Charter which set up the Hospital, the 250th anniversary of the death of William Hogarth and the centenary of the start of World War I, in which many foundlings fought and died. The museum undertook a major refurbishment of its Introductory Gallery in time for spring 2014, alongside a series of major historic and contemporary exhibitions and commissions.

The 2014 Foundling Residency was awarded to Tom Railton. Born in Coventry, Railton studied and worked in Leeds until moving to London to take his Postgraduate Diploma at Chelsea College of Arts in 2011. Awarded the Patrick Caulfield Scholarship for MA Fine Art study, he graduated with Distinction the following year, and was awarded the 3rd annual GAM Gilbert de Botton Art Prize. To find out more about the work Tom undertook at the Museum visit his blog.

To mark the end of his residency Tom Railton hosted an evening of clay, play and blue-sky thinking at the Foundling Museum to mark the end his residency there. Based on research carried out in residence at the museum since November last year, the event commemorated the 273rd anniversary of the date the first child was admitted to Thomas Coram’s Foundling Hospital. An invited audience took part in a series of talks, games and discussions, with the opportunity to take home a limited-edition artwork made entirely on the night itself.

Pavilion (Sophie Yetton & Gabriel Birch) – 2015

Pavilion is the collaborative artist duo Sophie Yetton and Gabriel Birch, based in south east London. Their work uses a variety of media to expose a dialogue between the fiction and function of art. Previous work has manifested itself as small architectures for the gallery that operate simultaneously as installation and as display devices for other art works. They worked on a project called The Archive Series, adopting collage and video montage to explore re-imagined mythologies for existing collections, which they will develop and explore during their time as artists in residence at The Foundling Museum.

In a series of conversations, Artquest’s Nick Kaplony, Pavilion and Alison Duke, the Foundling Museum’s head of collections, talked about the residency, making applications to opportunities, why artists engage with museums, the work made during the residency and the histories that Pavilion discovered hidden in the Museum’s architecture. A final piece of audio was made to record the final closing event, a talk between Pavilion and Marianne Mulvey, curator of public programmes at the Tate, exploring how the framing of Museum collections presents particular historical narratives and the dynamics of power that exist between the institution and audience.

The Museum

The Foundling Museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, established in 1739 to care for London’s abandoned babies. The Hospital was the brainchild of the pioneering philanthropist Captain Thomas Coram. Instrumental in helping Coram realise his vision were the artist William Hogarth and the composer George Frideric Handel. In doing so they created London’s first public art gallery and set the template for the way that the arts could support philanthropy. The Museum encourages people to participate in this dialogue as visitors, collaborators and supporters. The Museum contains the Foundling Hospital Collection which spans four centuries and contains paintings, sculpture, prints, manuscripts, furniture, clocks, photographs and ephemera. The Museum also houses the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, the world’s largest private collection of Handel memorabilia and an internationally-important research resource. In addition to displaying the Collections, the Museum mounts three major temporary exhibitions a year, which illuminate different aspects of the Foundling Hospital story, alongside smaller displays, Collection interventions, artists’ commissions and projects.