Quentin Blake – As Large as Life. Foundling Museum 1

Feb 2, 2012 by

I have always loved Quentin Blake‘s work, sharing the books he has written and illustrated, first with my three children, then with my classes in primary schools. To me, his pictures are like well loved poems and I find something new each time I look at them.

I was therefore delighted but not surprised to discover the fantastic work he has created at several hospitals, both in the United Kingdom and France, through the Nightingale Project.  A selection of this work is being exhibited at the Foundling Museum until 15th April 2012.

The Foundling Museum is one of many small spaces I have planned to visit so this was the perfect opportunity. My Art Pass gave me free entry and I first had a look at the display showing the history of the Foundling Museum. It was founded in 1739 and took in abandoned children up to 1954. I thought of Childsi Foundation, caring for abandoned babies in Kampala, Uganda and finding them loving homes, very different from the strict regime at the Foundling Hospital.  I was shocked at what a lottery entry to the Hospital was, even going so far as ladies picking out coloured balls to decide whether a child was to be taken in. Strings attached to state funding show how a centrally imposed policy tied the hands of the hospital board with disastrous results.

Quentin Blake’s pictures are a delight, each set quite distinct and even drawn with different tools. Quentin explains in a video interview how he talked to patients and service users before creating the artwork so he could choose what sort of images would best speak to them. Like his pictures, the exhibition is for adults and children with a reading writing and drawing area alongside the artwork.

What a joy when, heading for the first floor, I heard piano music. Thursday is the day for music and there are often concerts at the Museum which also houses the Gerald Coke Handel Collection. A volunteer has been encouraged to share her musical talent with visitors, as well as talking about the pictures, and it was lovely.

Coram Cafe, just inside the museum entrance, is open to people not visiting the museum. It is lovely and bright with fresh flowers and serves a range of home-made produce.

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