Thursday, 24 September 2009

Kettle's Yard, Cambridge


"Between 1958 and 1973 Kettle's Yard in Cambridge was the home of Jim and Helen Ede. In the 1920s and 30s Jim had been a curator at the Tate Gallery in London. Thanks to his friendships with artists and other like-minded people, over the years he gathered a remarkable collection, including paintings by Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Alfred Wallis, Christopher Wood, David Jones and Joan Miro, as well as sculptures by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Constantin Brancusi, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.


At Kettle's Yard Jim carefully positioned these artworks alongside furniture, glass, ceramics and natural objects, with the aim of creating a harmonic whole. His vision was of a place that should not be "an art gallery or museum, nor ... simply a collection of works of art reflecting my taste or the taste of a given period. It is, rather, a continuing way of life from these last fifty years, in which stray objects, stones, glass, pictures, sculpture, in light and in space, have been used to make manifest the underlying stability."

Kettle's Yard was originally conceived with students in mind. Jim kept 'open house' every afternoon of term, personally guiding visitors around his home. In 1966 he gave the house and its contents to the University of Cambridge. In 1970, three years before the Edes retired to Edinburgh, the house was extended, and an exhibition gallery added.

 

Today each afternoon (apart from Mondays) visitors can ring the bell and ask to look around."  

So (after intending to for about a quarter of a century) today I did.  I found the door in a little alleyway, gingerly clanged the bell and waited to be admitted.  It was a gorgeous sunny day in Cambridge and I just about had Kettle's Yard to myself.   You are encouraged to sit in the chairs, read the books, (but don't touch the displays!).   I did feel slightly self-conscious making myself at home in this treasure-house, but it is so welcoming, calm, serene and all-round delightful, that it's easy to fall into the fancy that it's your own.   The light is wonderful, the floorboards silky-soft, everywhere there are stunning artworks, casual/careful displays of pebbles, shells, driftwood (I do so LOVE a nature-table), little joys and surprises at every turn.   I was going to describe it as slightly spartan, but it's really nothing of the sort, though there are no lavish creature comforts.   This magical home greets you, surrounds you, comforts you with beauty and easy charm.  I just can't wait to return.





8 comments:

AeFondKis said...

Chrissie, I think you found a home from home....moving in soon? the minute I saw the bowl of pebbles I thought that you, Jim and Helen
were probably kindred spirits...
lovely post thanks for sharing it.
Linda x

Anonymous said...

What wonderful photos - I want to go! I love the play of light on the upholstered chair - or is it partly light and partly pattern on the fabric? It's hard to tell and tricks the eye - I love it. Glad you had such an obviously great afternoon.
Anne

Chrissie said...

Linda - yes, pebbles, I had to hold myself back from taking too many photos of them - there were quite a few .....

Anne - thought I'd do a recce before dragging you along, but you're coming with me next time!! The lovely light patterns were from the Venetian blinds.

Sue L said...

One of my favourite places, so glad you found it. I first went as a student in the early twenties and have been back many times over the years. My children have grown up visiting Kettles Yard and I am sure they will introduce their own children to it. I have no doubt you will go back again and again.

JP said...

I wish we had known about this when were in Cambridge last

LOVE STITCHING RED said...

Wonderful wonderful post. I loved every picture and every word. I would love to visit Kettle's Yard one day. I recognised the Alfred Wallis immediately, btw, thank you for showing us these treasures

Pomona said...

In my philistine youth I spent 3 years in Cambridge and never once went - shameful really! And now I think I missed out - although I did spent quite a bit of time in the Fitzwilliam Museum, so all was not lost!

Pomona x

Menopausal musing said...

What a beautiful, beautiful blog! Thank you for visiting mine. I particularly love the way that you have published the reminiscences of your father. (I spent a lot of my childhood holidays in a similar "Scotland" to him). I was so transported back their via his accounts..... Your felting is wonderful. I find myself with so much to say about your blog, but I want to keep going back to older posts to find out more......