Foundling Museum, London
Finding Family questioned the idea of family through art from the 17th Century to the present day. Looking at the ways in which artists have represented and responded to ideas of family, past and present, the exhibition presented a selection of historic and contemporary works of art that explore blood relations, social bonds, personal connections and love. The works are accompanied by creative writing by participants from Tracing Our Tales (the Museum’s award-winning programme for young care leavers) who have responded to the exhibition’s themes from the context of their own lived experience.
In partnership with the National Gallery, the exhibition included three iconic masterpieces from the Gallery’s collection, by Hogarth, Gainsborough and the Le Nain Brothers. Visitors were invited to look afresh at these well-loved works of art and to question their assumptions. These were shown alongside objects from the Foundling Museum’s collections, and paintings, drawings, photographs and sculpture by contemporary artists that reflect the many varied and complex versions of what and who family can be. Several newly commissioned works further enrich the exploration of what family means to different people. Contemporary artists featured in the exhibition include Louise Allen, Matthew Finn, Sunil Gupta, Chantal Joffe, Sikelela Owen, Hetain Patel, Barbara Walker, Caroline Walker and Gillian Wearing, alongside Helen Barff, Annabel Dover, Harold Offeh, Mark Titchner and Tamsin van Essen, who have created new work for the show.
Finding Family encourages an exploration far beyond the idea of family in a nuclear sense, suggesting a broader, more inclusive definition that also invites us to consider where our own sense of connection and identity lie. If you think you know what family means, think again.
Public Programmes and Performances:
We Are Family
Through readings and pop cultural references, Offeh shared examples of non-traditional queer families from pre-colonial African tribes, to ballroom houses and communes and collectives. His performance explored the contexts that shaped queer non-traditional families ability to survive and thrive.
2-4: Jak Skot
5-6: Tara White