For 26 Pairs of Eyes, each writer was paired with an object on display in the Museum and asked to write a text exactly 62 words long. Described as ‘Sestudes’, the texts drew out the humanity and wonder of each inanimate object through the imagination of the author. These Sestudes were displayed alongside the objects that inspired them, forming a trail of discovery through the Museum. By providing alternative stories for objects as diverse as the pencil that belonged to Foundling Hospital Secretary John Brownlow, and George Frideric Handel’s will, they offered visitors a chance to see the Museum Collection and the Foundling Hospital’s history from the fresh perspective of twenty six pairs of eyes.
The twenty six contributors ranged from former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion to freelance writers, copywriters and book authors, all of whom were brought together by membership of the writing collective 26. This informal writers’ network came about in 2003 to promote the importance of the written word in business, bringing good writing and beautiful language to a wider audience. This collaborative project was a continuation of the Museum’s practice of inviting artists to respond to its Collections.