This portrait printed on a large mirror came about through the life parallels between photographer and sitter along with the photographer’s desire to reflect the connections that exist between all of us. John was born in 1936 and was a pupil at the Foundling Hospital School in Berkhamsted. On arriving at the School, John heard classical music for the first time in the Chapel and was blown away by the beauty of it. He learnt to play the clarinet and music has continued to be an important part of his life. He met his wife Kay working in his first job in a radio and musical instrument shop, and they have been married for over 70 years.

Foundling Portraits Project

In summer 2021, the Museum commissioned photographic portraits of five former Foundling Hospital pupils: Ruth Amberly, John Caldicott, Lydia Carmichael, Jocelyn Gamble and Henry Grainger. They represent the last generation of pupils who entered the care of the Hospital in the 1930s and 1940s. Reflecting their importance, and to parallel the calibre of the eighteenth-century artists who donated their works to help the children, five exceptional photographers undertook the commission. They were Jillian Edelstein, Mahtab Hussain, David Moore, Ingrid Pollard and Wolfgang Tillmans. A further double portrait of Sylvia Copestake and Pamela McMurtry, by Eileen Perrier, was added the following year.

This portrait, like the other five, is the result of a reflective, enriching and creative partnership, formed between artist and sitter. Each offers a glimpse of the remarkable spirit and vitality that continues to inspire young care-experienced people today.

About the artist

Mahtab Hussain studied at Goldsmith College and City University before gaining a MA in Photography at Nottingham Trent University. His commissions and awards include Ikon Gallery, New Art Exchange, Arts Humanities Research Council, the Curators Choice Award, Culture Cloud at New Art Exchange, Format 13 Portfolio Review Award and the Discoveries Award at Houston FotoFest.