Scene from Balls by Lily Cole, 2018
Lily Cole: Balls

Lily Cole: Balls

40 Brunswick Square London WC1N 1AZ
31 Jul 2018 — 02 Dec 2018
  • Exhibitions & Displays
We present Balls, a new short film by Foundling Fellow Lily Cole exploring connections between the Foundling Hospital story and Emily Brontë’s much-loved novel Wuthering Heights. 

2016 Foundling Fellow Lily Cole has created a film to mark the 200th anniversary of Emily Brontë’s birth. On display in the Committee Room, Balls takes as its starting point Heathcliff, the foundling character central to Wuthering Heights, and explores links between the Foundling Hospital story and the much-loved novel by Brontë. Cole’s film is inspired by two separate but intertwined stories; the real lives of desperate women and the babies they gave up to the care of the Foundling Hospital, which are meticulously documented in the Hospital’s archives; and Heathcliff, the foundling antihero in Wuthering Heights.

Set in modern day Liverpool, the film shines a light on how the lives of women, celebrated or unknown, were so circumscribed by society in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and considers the extent to which progress has been made. To accompany the film, we display objects from the Brontë Parsonage Museum relating to the author and her inspiration. The film is also displayed at the Brontë Parsonage Museum and as part of Culture Liverpool 2018.

Balls is co-written by Lily Cole and Stacey Gregg, and produced by Kate Wilson at Fury Films. The film has been co-commissioned by the Foundling Museum, Brontë Parsonage Museum and Rapid Response Unit, with support from Arts Council England.

Running times 12 minutes. Balls is included with Museum admission and runs on the hour at 15 minute intervals.

  • Cole has succeeded, with her curious and gracefully filmed parable of the agonies of adoption

    Laura Cumming, The Observer
  • Balls is a modern-day tale about the indomitable nature of the female spirit

  • It’s a moving, elliptical reimagining of Heathcliff’s first few months

    Simon Hattenstone, The Guardian
  • Cole’s use of the Foundling’s archive compellingly draws attention to the real women behind the characters


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