Jenny Powell – Curating a static collection: Kettle’s Yard as a unique document of Modernism

Event Date: 21 January 2015

Picture Gallery

Royal Holloway University of London
Egham, Surrey
TW20 0EX

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre at Royal Holloway University of London presents:

Dr Jenny Powell (Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge) – Curating a static collection: Kettle’s Yard as a unique document of Modernism

In 1957 curator and collector Jim Ede open his home – Kettle’s Yard – to the public. He invited Cambridge students and interested acquaintances to enjoy his extensive collection of modern British and international art, which includes works by Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Henry Moore, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Joan Miro and Constanin Brancusi. Ede arranged the collection meticulously throughout Kettle’s Yard’s cottages, and extended the spaces with architect Leslie Martin in 1970.  In 1966 Ede gifted the collection to the University of Cambridge, with the clear instruction that his curatorial ‘hang’ should be preserved. This talk discusses the challenges of curating a space that cannot be changed. What does this mean for the collection’s preservation and conservation and how does a unique document of modernism – communicated through a curatorial scheme – function within our expectations of the museum and gallery visit today?

Dr Jennifer Powell, Senior Curator of Kettle’s Yard’s collection and programme will explore these questions. Powell’s research area focuses on sculptural practice in Britain and France from c. 1900 to the 1960s. She has contributed texts to exhibitions such as Modern British Sculpture, R.A., and Schwitters in Britain, Tate, and was formerly a curator of modern British Art at Tate Britain. She is currently preparing a centenary exhibition on the artist Henri-Gaudier Brzeska (whose estate Ede acquired in the mid-1920s) entitled NEW RHYTHMS.

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