23 November 2021

Studio: A Day at Kettles Yard

We recently took a tour around Kettles Yard; home to curator Jim Ede, his wife Helen and to their extraordinary collection of modern art, natural objects, antiques and furniture.

Come in as often as you like, the place is only alive when used.’

These words of welcome were written by creator Jim Ede in a letter, representing the openness and generosity that embody Kettle's Yard, Cambridge in 1964.

Flowers from the garden

Known as much for its outstanding collection of twentieth-century art by the likes of Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Henry Moore, as for its careful arrangement of natural objects such as pebbles, feathers and shells. Kettle's Yard exists to provide a home for anyone who wishes to enter.

Considered corners

Housed inside four converted eighteenth-century workers' cottages with a 1970’s extension, the permanent collection includes works by countless modern artist of 20th Century. On first glance, you could be feel forgiven for thinking you’re walking through a beautiful Rose Uniacke interior. The reality, Jim Ede created this space over 50 years ago with an incredible instinct for timeless and effortless design. 

Beachcombed treasure

You’ll notice a Branusi sitting next to a collection of beach combed treasure, a Hepworth flanked by ordinary houseplants, a Miro framed beside a bowl of lemons. There’s a democracy to the objects, existing equally, side by side, with no hierarchy. A successions of still lives, creating balance and harmony as you journey though from room to room.

Christopher Wood - Self Portrait, 1927

Ede’s main objective was to create a welcoming space that was accessible to all. A great believer in the beauty of impoverished objects, without focus on financial value or anything being ’perfect’, in the same vein, he wanted to give everyone the opportunity to see and experience modern art, in a relaxed, unpretentious environment. 

There’s a mood, or spirit to Kettles Yard that’s difficult to convey without experiencing it for yourself. Even down to the careful positioning of chairs, design to create conversation. It’s a feeling openness, welcoming and a feeling of ‘home’. This place is special.

See more from the Journal.

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