The New Kettle's Yard

'A living place where works of art could be enjoyed... where young people could be at home unhampered by the greater austerity of the museum or public art gallery.' Jim Ede.

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Kettle’s Yard house and gallery in Cambridge has just reopened after a two year make-over and extension to its site, it now includes a café and gift shop. However, the original building remains the same and the eclectic collection of its founder Jim Ede is still displayed exactly as before.

 Kettle's Yard

Kettle's Yard

What makes Kettle's Yard so unique and magical, setting it apart from any other gallery space, is that the modest row of interconnecting houses remain set up as a home. The style is simple and unpretentious, just as when Ede lived there, with sofas, tables, chairs and bookshelves and his collection is displayed without curators notes or labels.

 Kettle's Yard

Kettle's Yard

Originally, the now iconic Kettle's Yard, was a row of small dilapidated workman’s cottages which Jim Ede, a former Tate curator, acquired and converted into a home for himself and his art teacher wife Helen in 1956.

Ede was an avid collector of modernist British and European ceramics and artworks and amassed a collection which includes 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.

Jim Ede would display a simple swirl or dish of pebbles with as much respect as he displayed a precious piece of pottery, displaying art and non-art pieces alongside each other.

 Kettle's Yard 

Kettle's Yard 

Later he donated the entire collection and the house to Cambridge University, at which time its reputation as a place to visit with reverence grew. His style was based on simplicity and he aspired to create for each room "an atmosphere of quiet and simple charm". The house retains that charm alongside the history it carries within the carefully curated objects. 

We love the effortless style of the home Jim Ede created and the skill of the curators eye which he transferred from his time at the Tate gallery to his own home. We can all use our creativity to curate personal collections or memorabilia and, as Ede has shown in his shell and pebble collections, it’s often how we choose to show those items that is as important as the items themselves. Curating your own collection and changing things around regularly not only brings out our creativity but can make us see things afresh – we may not all own a Lucie Rie dish or a Miro painting but here are a few key ideas to get things started!

For a contemporary take on Jim Ede’s rocking chair and upholstered furniture, try Arlo & Jacob...

We really love the way the paintings and prints are grouped together, sometimes in quite unexpected places, and framed in simple wooden frames allowing the pictures to stand out and also unifying them. Try framing family photographs and prints in matching frames and creating your own gallery to add interest to a stairway or hall for example.

For its clean lines and simplicity, the Galvin Brothers handcrafted furniture is traditionally built but with a contemporary twist.

Have fun curating your own items, and if you want to collect on a shoestring try Habitat for very affordable studio-style pottery or for the real thing go to Maak who will be holding a contemporary ceramics auction in May (online preview from 27 April).


Kettle's Yard, Castle Street, Cambridge

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Kettle's Yard