The House at Kettle’s Yard

This part-museum, part-gallery is a remarkable space – whitewashed walls, exposed brick, timber, layer upon layers of rugs – and uses unexpected ways to display art from different vantage points for the viewer to enjoy.

Paintings and prints hung low on the wall, all by Ben Nicholson: 1967 (sexagonal), 1952 (goblet) and 1928 (cornish port).

Hand-painted markings on the windows.

Jim Ede was an avid collector of pebbles: “I will discard 10,000 pebbles in my search for one whose outward shape exactly balances my idea of what a pebble is”. Here, they are placed with KETTLE’S YARD / CAMBRIDGE / ENGLAND IS THE / LOUVRE OF THE PEBBLE, 1995 by Ian Hamilton Finlay, an artwork created in response to the house.

Kettle’s Yard is set in the residential building of Jim and Helen Ede. Jim met Helen at art college before working for the Tate in the 20s and 30s. He was ahead of his time and had a fondness for modern abstract art – counting Ben Nicholson and many other renowned artists as friends. In 1956, Jim and Helen moved to Cambridge where they began working on restoring four derelict workers’ cottages to create a home before moving in two years later and living there until 1973.

abstract design, 1934, linocut on paper by Ben Nicholson.

A detail of princess (kings and queens), 1933 (circa), linocut on cloth by Ben Nicholson.

Objects that would ordinarily be considered junk – like an old broom head found on the side of the road with its bristles sawn off – take on a new form in this considered context. By mixing these objects amongst a Miró or Moore, you’re never quite sure what is art and what’s not, which is the beauty of it.

Le Phare, 1930 by Christopher Wood and Seascape – ships sailing past the Longships, 1928 (circa) by Alfred Wallis. Jim Ede would ensure there was always a lemon placed on the pewter plate to contrast with the artworks.

A spiral of pebbles created by Jim Ede in 1958, and other found items, alongside Torpedo Fish (Toy), 1914 (posthumous cast, 1968) by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska.

Jim loaned Cambridge University students artwork during the term so they could appreciate it, too – his philosophy was that art should be a part of everyday life and shown in a relaxed way. We couldn’t agree more.

Overlooking the ground floor – Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s Wrestlers relief, 1913 (posthumous cast, 1965) hangs on the wall next to the piano.

Various paintings by Alfred Wallis.

The library – you’re encouraged to take a book from the shelf and read at the table.