Jim Ede's collection of contemporary art inspires Associate Artists at Kettle's Yard

Ruth Hazard | 19 July 2012
Matthew Darbyshire recreates the permanent collection at Kettle's Yard© Kettle's Yard
Exhibition: Kettle's Yard Associate Artists, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, until September 23 2012

This opening display in a year-long collaborative project between Kettle’s Yard and four contemporary artists is more of a micro-display than a full-scale exhibition, but it makes for an interesting accompaniment to Jim Ede’s glorious hoard of collected works in the main house.

The artists in question, Matei Bejenaru, Matthew Darbyshire, Lorna MacIntyre and Jeremy Millar, have been given free rein to draw inspiration from the impressive treasure trove of contemporary art that was collected by Ede while he lived at Kettle’s Yard and all four will be contributing and submitting work throughout 2012 and 2013.

Lorna MacIntyre's picture was taken on a trip to the recreation of the Brancusi studio in Paris
© Kettle's Yard
For Darbyshire, this has led to an initial recreation of the collection and, just as in the main house, it’s an eclectic assortment of ‘art works’ that balance on tree stumps, piano tops and other furniture objects.

But this collection is different; unlike Ede’s rare catalogue of contemporary art, Darbyshire’s is made up of modern mass produced pieces, from places like Ikea, each mirroring an equivalent from the collector’s old home.

MacIntyre picks up the theme differently, choosing to focus on a particular Brancusi photograph, Bird in Space, which she pairs with an image of her own taken on a trip to the recreation of his studio in Paris (the accompanying digital sketchbook can be found online).

Jim Ede also visited Brancusi in his studios, and the photo is one of three images the artist gave to his guest in the 1920s.

Romanian artist, Bejenaru, again hones in on just one item in the collection but rather than creating new work around it, decides to transform the original into a new piece of its own.

Jeremy Millar's video installation shows a Steinway piano being retuned
© Kettle's Yard
He pairs Alfred Stieglitz’s Life and Death photograph with Unwords, a poem written by fellow Romanian and Nobel Prize winner, Nichita Stieglitz, to create an unlimited edition photo card that visitors are invited to take home.

Rather than select a piece or object from the collection, Millar instead focuses on the ‘stuff’ around the art works, such as the two grand pianos, which are as spectacular as some of the pieces themselves.

His video installation captures a Steinway being prepared by pianist John Tilbury, with metal screws, bolts, washers and even erasers being placed between the strings to alter the sound.

The Associate Artists project is described as ‘four conversations with Kettle’s Yard’ and this seems a particularly fitting summation. Showing how the archive can capture the imagination in completely different and unique ways, the opening display offers an added dimension to a fascinating permanent collection and a taste of the fascinating collaborations to come.

  • Open 11.30am-5pm (main house 1.30pm-4.30pm, closed Monday, Bank Holiday Mondays 11.30am-5pm).
    Admission free.
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