Pamela and Sylvia

This double portrait, the only one in the Museum’s collections, was taken in the Museum’s Court Room. Former pupils and friends Pamela McMurtry (b.1937) and Sylvia Copestake (Sybil Kingsford, b.1937) became best friends while at the Berkhamsted Foundling Hospital. Their relationship has lasted 60 years and survived them living on different continents.

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

Photographer Eileen Perrier’s dual Ghanaian and Dominican heritage informs her work through ideas around placement, cultural identity and diversity. Her portraits celebrate individuality within the framework of often coincidental common ground. Full of empathy, they probe into the ways we construct public and private identities, and how others construct them for us.