I think there is a great curiosity present in today’s world concerning how people inhabit their home space. It’s why magazines like Architectural Digest and programmes on HGTV are hits. We love seeing how other people fill and decorate their homes. Personalities are revealed in everything from the throw pillows we choose to the colours of our living room walls. While the media does a pretty good job of feeding our voyeuristic pleasures, when was the last time you actually stepped into the home of a complete stranger and were able to sit in their chairs, open their books and more or less take up space in their world, a world completely unlike your own? And what if that owner of the home was one of the most respected art curators in British history? Welcome to Kettle’s Yard, one of the UK’s best kept secrets in the museum world. This is the home of the Tate Gallery’s curator Jim Ede. For fifteen years, he and his wife, filled this space with works of art too numerous to count and too magnificent to ever put a price tag on.
Kettle’s Yard was originally conceived with students in mind. Jim Ede’s hope was that students would come into the house and sit with art, taking time to truly enjoy the collection he had built up over the years. Pieces that had been accumulated, from friends and work relationships, over the years are dotted throughout and are, at times, difficult to distinguish from everyday objects. As you walk into the room, there is a lemon on a table and a few pebbles in the corner. You are constantly questioning yourself, wondering if you are looking at “art” or simply a lemon left behind by a visitor. And if you’re hoping for some direction with labels, you’ll be left waiting. Nothing is labelled. Nothing at all. It was just as Jim intended for it to stay.
The space today is still open and waiting for you to enjoy. Visitors are encouraged to sit and “be with the art” just as students were back in the day. Rocking chairs with views of plentiful gardens ache for attention. A library overflowing with catalogues and books is eager for perusal. But, for many, this space will act as the ultimate home inspiration. Collectors will have met their match. This is a collection like none other and certainly showcases a lifetime of passion for the arts.
In 1966, Kettle’s Yard was donated to the University of Cambridge. It has expanded since that time, now also housing a fully functioning gallery for new projects, outside the perfectly maintained house. So, a visit to this museum is not just for exploring times of old. Just as the Edes would have wanted, this is a place to explore a history of art while also being presented with a vision of the new. In short, if you make the journey to Cambridge, this absolutely must be on your itinerary. It is a piece of history not to be missed.
For more information visit Kettle’s Yard.