Young patients from Great Ormond Street Hospital created animations and medicine bottles inspired by the eighteenth-century medical recipes of Foundling Hospital Governor, Dr Richard Mead.

Great Ormond Street Hospital is a world-leading paediatric centre for the treatment of rare diseases. Following an invitation from Paul Veys, Director of Bone Marrow Transplants, the Museum worked with children undergoing bone marrow transplants. These children were all in isolation due to their severely compromised immune systems, and as a result projects like this are incredibly rare. This was the first time a practical arts project had taken place with patients in isolation at the hospital.

Working with Foundling Museum Curator Emma Middleton and animator Shelly Wain, the children created animations and medicines inspired by the curious eighteenth-century medical recipes of the Foundling Hospital Governor, Dr Richard Mead. Comparing the medicines of the past to the present, the patients then invented their own imaginary medicine using ingredients that addressed their identity and their own experiences of treatment. The highly personal nature of the medicines’ ingredients and its bespoke effect enabled parents, clinicians, Museum staff and visitors to better understand the hardships and the hopes of children in long-term care at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Since 2014 the Foundling Museum and GOSH Arts have worked in partnership to undertake a series of artist-led projects with children at the hospital, designed to enhance young patients’ experience as part of the holistic care provided. Responding to the legacy of the Foundling Hospital, the children have worked directly with visual artists to create animations and works of art addressing their personal experiences of hospital.