The doors to Kettle’s Yard House & Gallery have finally reopened. Following a two year renovation, this unique collection is now enlivened by a set of extended galleries, with their own distinct exhibitions programme.
Amidst a world of all-consuming ‘starchitect’-designed cultural venues, Kettle’s Yard is a sanctuary of domestic charm. The permanent collection is set within the former home of Jim & Helen Ede, a series of extended cottages in Northern Cambridge. Entering via its iconic manual doorbell, one is transported into the intimate atmosphere of a home. Every turn offers glimpses of art, objects and meticulously arranged natural wonders. Porcelain sets in corner cabinets, a set of ivory hair brushes on a dressing table or a perfect lemon on a pewter plate. Then up the spiral staircase, Brancusi’s Prometheus bronze head on a grand piano, or George Kennethson’s iridescent Staffordshire alabaster carving at floor-height beneath a sash window. Finally, one emerges into the 1970’s extended wing – light and expansive for music and entertaining, where Jim Ede personally welcomed his artist friends and undergraduate visitors every afternoon of term.
Everywhere, “objects which inform my heart” – remarked Jim. A subtle arrangement of ‘pocket pebbles’, delicate teacups into which sunshine pools, glistening fisherman’s floats, and even a rare poppyseed, desiccated during a flood. Not forgetting the masterpieces – including Barbara Hepworth Three Personages, or Lucie Rie’s elegant ceramics. Artworks of significant worth hand-in-hand with happenstance flea-market finds – all steeped in historical or sentimental value. A collection of five decades acquired largely through the Edes’ friendships with artists and makers.
Within the cottages, temporary interventions (such as Cornelia Parker’s chalk-dripped windows) continue to offer changing points of view. In tandem, the gallery spaces showcase a new programme of contemporary exhibitions. The first, Actions. The image of the world can be different (in two parts) presents iconic pieces by the likes of Richard Long alongside recent works by Khadije Saye, who tragically died in the Grenfell Tower. Part two includes screenings of John Akomfrah’s award winning Auto Da Fé, and new paintings by Caroline Walker. This summer, the galleries will stage Antony Gormley’s Subject, conceived as a site-specific installation contining the British sculptor’s investigation into relationships between the human body and space.
To experience the meandering journey of Kettle’s Yard is to be liberated from the sterile bubble of the purpose-built gallery, rediscovering integrity in the poignant spirit of the domestic. Here, a timeless capsule of an individual’s sensibility, philosophy, and way of life; but a tranquility enlivened with the textures, memories and mysteries of the home. Indeed, for those who delight in idiosyncrasy and eclecticism, Kettle’s Yard offers once again a home-from-home.
Actions. The image of the world can be different (Part 1 ends 2nd April. Part 2 11th April – 6th May)
Antony Gormley: Subject (22nd May – 27th August 2018)
By Louise Long
Louise Long is a photographic artist based in London, working in response to ideas of place, environment and culture. She holds an MA from the Royal College of Art, with recent exhibitions in New York, London, Sweden and Paris. www.louiselong.co.uk @louiseelong
Tel 01223 748100