Established in 1739, the Foundling Hospital was the first institution set up to take in unwanted and abandoned babies, which it did for 250 years before officially becoming a charity to help vulnerable children. The original site is now a museum of artefacts and artworks about the charity’s role in the community.
For the museum’s latest exhibition, artist Clare Twomey has created a unique site-specific installation entitled Exchange in which she inscribed the bases of 1,500 teacups and saucers with an individual good deed, and displayed them across four long tables. Each day, 10 visitors will receive a golden ticket which allows them to pick up one of the teacups and – if they feel capable of carrying out the good deed inscribed on it – can take it home with them, leaving the saucer as a marker of what they have volunteered themselves to do.
As such the exhibition is both shaped and changed by the community which participates in it, building upon the concept of interdependence reminiscent of the Foundling Hospital’s historical role. Moving and life-affirming, this stirring exhibition will open your eyes to the inherent kindness of others while also encouraging you to do a good deed for somebody else, from “teach somebody something new,” or “make somebody a cup of tea in this cup,”, to “foster a child” or “donate five books to charity.” Clare has created a poignant and affecting departure from the busy impersonality of city life.