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Illustration by Tessa Carr

Kettle’s Yard was created in 1956 by Jim and Helen Ede, it was their home. Jim a Tate curator and Helen an art teacher. Their legacy is still contained in the four workman’s cottages that notch together down the side of Castle Hill in Cambridge. It is an example of how we can live with art; art does not have to be confined to the austerity of a gallery, placed on a plinth, or displayed in a gilded frame. Art can be intermixed with natural objects; pebbles and feathers situated alongside Windsor chairs and Alfred Wallis paintings.

Jim Ede on inheriting a Rembrandt, gave it away, only keeping its frame. We can see that Kettle’s Yard is not a place for trophy art - it is a place of finding connections; through finding balance and continuity, in both the made and found.

Kettle’s Yard is a home, connected to a modern gallery space. Both spaces were closed at the end of 2015 for a two-year renovation project; funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council, among others. The development was undertaken by Jamie Fobert Architects, to create an education wing and a new entrance area, which includes a shop and cafe. The house was not affected during the galleries restoration.

However nice the cafe and shop are, the exhibition space is no larger or inviting than it was two years ago. The current exhibition, ‘ACTIONS’, is disappointing as the collection of Bloomsbury and St. Ives artists struggles alongside large, bold pieces of contemporary film and photography.

We lose the thoughtful balance of Jim’s vision. He always insisted Kettle’s Yard was not a gallery but a space, but sadly today it looks like all other contemporary galleries.

This article was first published in SEE:TWO, The Courtauldian’s printed publication. You can find the full first issue of SEE here:

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