The Foundling Museum has a fascinating installation at the moment called ‘Exchange’ by leading ceramic artist Clare Twomey. The idea is that there are rows and rows of teacups and 10 people a day are allowed to chose one. If they agree to do the good deed that they find hidden underneath then they are allowed to keep it as a memento.
The lovely gallery assistant explained how many people come and leave quickly, seeing only mass production. “You have to stop and think and read to understand,” she explained, “but then it becomes quite beautiful.”
This was my experience. As I took the time to read the different deeds I realised that each one revealed a real-life social interaction, a sacrifice, and a moment of hope in someone’s life somewhere in this city (or beyond). There was one teacup-less saucer reading ‘foster a child’.
It reminded me a little of Ai Wei Wei’s mass of sunflower seeds which at first seemed to be a comment on China’s immense mass-productivity. But looking closer a different reality became apparent; each seed was actually hand painted. For me, this represented the individuality and worth of each person, and their potential for growth and creativity.
I’d thoroughly recommend a trip to the Foundling Museum, and especially spending a moment or several pondering over ‘Exchange’. The installation is around until 15th September, and if you would like to choose a teacup then you should call ahead or check the website for specific times.