Children will be taking over London’s Foundling Museum for a special table-turning weekend conceived and directed by award-winning artist, Yinka Shonibare MBE
On Saturday 31 March and Sunday 1 April 2012, Yinka Shonibare’s Foundling Back to Front Weekend will see children put in charge of the running of the museum dedicated to the story of Britain’s first Foundling Hospital established in 1739 – from sitting at the information desk, to acting as guides to the world famous paintings collection, selling tickets and creating entertainments for visitors.
And if that wasn’t bizarre enough, they will all be dressed in costumes of the 18th Century, and charged with teaching lessons based on those taught to the foundling children of that period – singing, needlework, catechism and writing – to leading figures of London’s cultural community acting as pupils in their classroom!
Yinka Shonibare MBE, described the initiative as: ‘A deliberately contrary project in which the institution will literally be taken over by children. The Foundling Museum has historically provided children with education and accommodation, the Back to Front Weekend will present a shift in power relations between those who have traditionally used the institution and those who have run the institution.’
Caro Howell, Director of the Foundling Museum, said: ‘When Thomas Coram established the Foundling Hospital for abandoned babies in 1739, he not only changed the face of child welfare in London, he also gave artists an opportunity to get directly involved in social change. Freed from patronage, artists determined for themselves how their talents could be put to best use. So began the benefit concert, the art auction and the artist intervention. Today, the neglect, abandonment and abuse faced by children in the eighteenth century have not gone away. But neither has the desire of artists to engage with these issues through their work and working practices.’
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