This summer the Foundling Museum
will be exhibiting the finest and most exciting examples of works submitted through the Flourish programme. Curated by Beatty Hallas, Flourish was set up in 2006 as a response to the frustration voiced by looked-after artists about the lack of opportunity to show their work. It is a showcase for young artists to express themselves and challenge preconceptions of the care system.
All of the artists included in this exhibition have been cared for in some way; some are looked after by carers, some have special needs, some have been young offenders and some are fostered or adopted. The works displayed vary in subject matter and medium, from photography to mosaic to poetry and the age of artists represented range from 6 to 25 years old. Since 2006 Flourish has continued to champion looked-after artists works, inspire creativity and celebrate such exhilarant talent hoping to encourage confidence and skills toward creative careers.
Holding a new exhibition each year, Flourish was the first national programme to promote artwork by young people with such a diverse history of care. A Flourish board was set up in 2006 with artists, now including those involved in the first show, who select artworks for new shows and advise on policy. It asks artists to make a formal application, giving details about their work and submitting an artist's statement highlighting aspirations and telling their story. This surprising and imaginative artwork is featured in a catalogue. Artists are invited to the exhibitions, with the chance to hear feedback, and many attend a gallery for the first time.
It is therefore fitting that the Foundling Museum is the venue for this exhibition, continuing in its tradition as the first public showcase for art in Britain, established to raise awareness of children in care through creative endeavour. The Foundling Museum tells the story of the thousands of children brought up in the Foundling Hospital, Britains first home for abandoned babies established in 1739. As well as an art collection given by benefactors including Hogarth, Gainsborough and Reynolds, The Foundling Museum contains materials relating to the personal histories of the thousands of children cared for in the hospital between the 1740s and 1950s, including oral histories, photographs, archival material and artefacts.