What to book: ‘The Lost Words’ at the Foundling Museum

This beguiling exhibition of poetry and illustration is a paean to the power of nature

Jackie Morris, ‘Kingfisher’, 2017 © Jackie Morris

If you’re already familiar with The Lost Words, the beautifully illustrated “spell book” published last October, you’ll know how deeply it captures the imagination through the power of both language and imagery. Robert Macfarlane’s set of 20 clever and poignant acrostic poems, arranged alphabetically from ‘Acorn’ to ‘Wren’, are illustrated by Jackie Morris’ enchanting paintings; together, they resurrect the language of nature that is under threat of disappearance from our vernacular. Now, those words and pictures are set to be brought together once again in an exhibition held later this month at the Foundling Museum, following a successful run at Compton Verney last year. 

Jackie Morris, ‘Otter’, 2017 © Jackie Morris

Aimed at visitors of all ages, the exhibition of poems and watercolours will take viewers on a journey into the heart of nature, bringing us back into a contact with a vanishing wildness while reminding us of the part that the great outdoors plays in nurturing a child’s imagination. Alongside Morris’ and Macfarlane’s creations are pieces from the Foundling Hospital’s archive that are linked with the theme of children’s education, such as games tokens and reading aides.  

Jackie Morris, ‘Raven’, 2017 © Jackie Morris

“I want The Lost Words to delight the mind and the eye and send children to sleep dreaming of wild things,” said Jackie Morris of the book; this exhibition is sure to fulfil that mission.

The exhibition is at the Foundling Museum from 19 January to 6 May. ‘The Lost Words: A Spell Book’ by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris is out now.

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