Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge is a row of cottages that Jim Ede began converting in 1956. He wanted to create a house that would combine furniture, art works and natural objects in a ‘lived in’ environment; a museum that was homely, a home that had museum type artefacts. To him art was intrinsic to life and an essential part of it and so his goal was to share this message with others by creating and sharing this environment.

Alfred Wallis                                           Ben Nicholson

Of course it didn’t hurt that he was an Assistant at the Tate Gallery, that he was personal friends with many artists such as Ben and Winifred Nicholson or that he could easily lay his hands on art works that the gallery wasn’t buying – and cheaply too! Alfred Wallis would mail him drawings to buy, sixty at a time once. Brzeska’s work was dumped in his office where eventually Ede persuaded a few buyers to purchase for the State and then bought the rest for a song.

Ede’s vision was to create a balance of art, music, religion and domestic life ( like us all then eh! ) and once he’d restored the cottages and filled them he opened his home every weekday afternoon to undergraduates and then as the reputation of the house grew, so did the types of people wanting to benefit from visiting. It’s still open on afternoons but only for a couple of hours which is why we  stomped through Cambridge on a tight deadline!

One of my galvanizing reasons to go to Kettle’s Yard was to see some Winifred Nicholson’s up close and personal, and I wasn’t disappointed. The house is very light and airy but that made for a lot of reflection on the picture glass. The application of paint is so thin and smooth that I really couldn’t tell if it were a painting or a print! And the colours! The camera and light reflection doesn’t do justice, but they glowed.

It’s a tranquil, almost sacred place. There are chairs everywhere, which you are encouraged to sit in should you wish to (oh yes!) and beds at every corner which sadly I wasn’t encouraged to use (but defiantly would have after the route march!) It was a place which made me slow down and contemplate that all of life is beautiful if we stop to sit and observe it, and all of life can be art.