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The Lost Words at The Foundling Museum

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Time 10:00
Date 06/05/18
Price £11

A unique collaborative project between award-winning author Robert Macfarlane, and acclaimed artist and author Jackie Morris, celebrating the relationship between language and the living world.

Running from: Fri 19 Jan - Sun 06 May.

An exhibition that seeks to reconnect people with the natural world. Originated by Compton Verney, the exhibition presents a new series of poems and accompanying illustrations that conjure the beauty of nature, for visitors young and old.

The Lost Words is a response to Macfarlane and Morris’s belief that nature is in retreat from our children’s stories and imaginations. In 2002 the results of a Cambridge University survey, published in Science, found that British schoolchildren were able to identify Pokémon far more accurately than species of common UK wildlife. In a 2008 National Trust survey, only a third of primary age children could identify a magpie, though nine out of ten could name a Dalek. A later Wildlife Trust survey focused on adults found that a third of participants were unable to identify a barn owl, three-quarters unable to identify an ash tree, and two-thirds feeling that they had “lost touch with nature”.

Robert Macfarlane has created twenty acrostic poems or ‘spells’ focused on common nature words that are fading from use as the species themselves decline, while Jackie Morris, inspired by her lifelong passion for Britain’s landscapes and wildlife, has painted beautiful, iridescent watercolours which take viewers on a journey in which the familiar is magical once more.

The Lost Words explores the widening gulf between childhood and the natural world in the 21st century, and also speaks to an important aspect of the Foundling Hospital’s history and ethos. Items from the Hospital archive that relate to the importance placed on fresh air and the children’s education, such as reading games and aids, some with lost or archaic vocabulary, are displayed alongside the paintings and spells, demonstrating the institution’s forward-thinking health and education practices.