After a two-year, multi-million pound renovation project by the much-in-demand Jamie Fobert Architects, the country's most charming art gallery outside of London throws open its doors to the public.
The new Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, which boasts a four-floor Education wing, two spanking new double height exhibition galleries, a swish glass entrance and a cafe, has been reconfigured to ensure seamless continuity between the old and the new.
Fobert's modest additions are smart, clean and harmonious with Jim Ede's original 'House' – formed out of four dilapidated cottages – and the Modernist extensions conceived by Sir Leslie Martin and David Owne in 1970. Light streams in from roof-windows in the galleries, floors are timber or concrete, and the walls in the entrance area are rough plaster: 'I strove to achieve the same sensibility designing a contemporary extension which similarly develops in easy and individual stages', writes Jamie Fobert of his most recent project.
Kettle's Yard, Extension. © Jamie Fobert Architects
To celebrate its reopening on 10 February 2018, Kettle's Yard stages Actions. The image of the world can be different in the swanky new galleries. Inspired by a letter written by artist Naum Gabo to Ede, a close friend of Gabo, Actions explores the power of 'art as a poetic, social and political force in the world'.
Bringing together works by thirty-eight contemporary artists, including John Akomfrah, Khadija Saye – the young artist who sadly perished in the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 – Cornelia Parker and Oscar Murillo, Actions showcases the various ways in which visual media can change our view of the world.
While the hoards head for Cornelia Parker's new chalk drawing on the window in Helen's bedroom, make a beeline for the off-site works including Bangladeshi-British artist Rana Begum's entrancing womb-like structure in the adjacent St Peter’s Church or Nathan Coley's The Same for Everyone, 2017, in the courtyard. Coley's illuminated text on scaffolding can be read as an idealistic message or an authoritarian order – he leaves it up to us to decide.
Rana Begum, No. 764 Baskets, 2017-18
Actions has commendable intentions, but the real draw of the new Kettle's Yard is drinking in the harmony of Ede's personal art collection once more. And thankfully, the familiar domestic setting of Ede's home has remained untouched during the revamp.
The intimate, higgledy-piggledy house-museum, founded by late Tate-curator Jim Ede in 1957, is loved for its monumental collection of sculptures, paintings and drawings by renowned Modern British artists including Barbara Hepworth, Joan Miró and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. Kettle's Yard is enjoyed today, as Director Andrew Nairne so eloquently put it during the press preview, 'as the preserved memory of Ede's life and passion for art collecting'.
But Ede's prestigious art collection is like no other. Not an ostentatious display of wealth, Ede curated his collection with educational purposes and students in mind. Whilst living at Kettle's Yard in the early 60s, Ede kept ‘open house’ every afternoon of term, personally guiding visitors around the eclectic objects in his collection – a lucky few were offered a cup of tea and a slice of toast and honey, too.
Kettle's Yard, Cambridge
Envisioning Kettle's Yard as 'a living place where works of art could be enjoyed...where young people could be at home unhampered by the greater austierity of the museum or public art gallery', Ede donated the collection to the University of Cambridge in 1966.
Ever since, Kettle's Yard has been a thriving hub of workshops, talks, exhibitions and activity for both local and international emerging contemporary artists, curators, and art history students. Fobert's education suite has clearly been configured with learning quite literally at its heart.
The Clore Learning Studio, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge
The new Clore Learning space, which has expanded education spaces at Kettle's Yard by 200%, opens onto Castle Street allowing passers by to peer in. Fobert hopes this new addition will encourage the local community to see Kettle's Yard as a project learning space for everyone to enjoy.
Only forty-five minutes away from London by train from King's Cross, go on a day-trip to Cambridge's charming new contemporary gallery. It's really very lovely, and a wonderful day out if you've got kids in tow.
|What||Actions. The image of the world can be different, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge|
|Where||Kettle's Yard, Castle St, Cambridge , CB3 0AQ | MAP|
10 Feb 18 – 06 May 18, Tuesday – Sunday
|Website||Please click here for more information|