Children’s customised ‘Covid Letters’ go on show at Camden’s Foundling Museum
PUBLISHED: 09:15 23 October 2020 | UPDATED: 09:15 23 October 2020
Hundreds answered a call from fashion designer Jonny Banger to draw their feelings across Boris Johnson’s ‘stay at home’ letter, and the anarchic results are on display
As the country went into lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote a letter to every UK household urging residents to stay at home, save the NHS and protect lives.
In response, Jonny Banger, who owns underground fashion label Sports Banger, invited Britain’s under 16s via social media to customise the letter and express their feelings about the pandemic.
The rules were simple: you must be under 16, draw straight onto the letter and ‘no digital’. The replies, using pens, pencils, paint and collage ranged from a simple scribble and calls to support the NHS with more PPE, to anti-government graffiti.
All entrants received a certificate making them an honorary pirate of the ‘Banger Fleet’, a bootleg Blue Peter badge, and a couple of t-shirts.
Now Foundling Museum Trustee and Turner Prize-winning artist, Jeremy Deller, has invited Banger to show a selection of over 200 works gathered from toddlers to teenagers across the UK.
The Covid Letters go on display at the Bloomsbury museum which has just been awarded £2500,000 by the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
It tells the story of the Foundling Hospital established in 1739 by the philanthropist Captain Thomas Coram, “for the maintenance and education of exposed and deserted young children” which continues today as the children’s charity Coram.
Sports Banger is known for its appropriation of classic sports brands, political messaging and sharp humour, and the inspiration for The Covid Letters came when someone on receiving their t-shirt the same day as the Prime Minister’s letter
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said on social media, ‘One of these is going in the bin’.
The re-appropriation of the letters is similar to the fashion label’s bootlegging style and offers children the chance to react directly and use the letter as a tool for protest, dialogue and debate.
Banger said: “I couldn’t be happier using my platform to give kids a voice. Little anarchists spreading joy. The Foundling Museum is an important part of the social history of London, it’s story more relevant than ever. I’m so happy the exhibition is showing here, it actually means something.”
Deller said: “The Covid Letters are the best art to come out of lockdown, I am very jealous. They are funny, naughty and angry in equal measure. I can’t wait to see all the rudeness and righteousness in the same spaces as paintings by William Hogarth who I am sure would have loved this work.”
Foundling Museum director Caro Howell said the letters form “a vibrant, uncensored and emotional time capsule that captures the creative voices of children at a moment of
huge national anxiety”.
“While the Foundling Museum’s historic collections speak powerfully to the lives of children, it is wonderful to hear them speaking for themselves.”
The Covid Letters are on display until January 17 in the exhibition gallery and interspersed throughout the collections.
The Foundling Museum 40, Brunswick Square, Bloomsbury.
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