Kettles Yard was the Cambridge home of Jim Ede, a man who put a great deal of thought into his surroundings. He was passionate about art and collected paintings and sculpture – his house is full of extraordinary works by such diverse artists as Pablo Picasso, Barbara Hepworth, the Cornish painter Alfred Wallis, and Ede’s grandchildren.
Ede argued that ‘the role of a work of art is to give food for thought, to act as a stimulant to entice the onlooker to inspect things, people and emotions from a new point of view’. He challenged the lazy passivity through which we normally see the world.
Some of the most intriguing corners of Kettles Yard are not the now famous art works, but the way ordinary items such as a chair or shells collected from the beach enter into dialogue. Ede was fascinated by these ‘conversations’ as he called them, and paid careful attention to way the things in his house were arranged.
There is a low round table in the hall of Kettles Yard which has a spiral made of pebbles in the centre, and a dark glass ball to one side. The circles are beautiful, and echo and contrast with other shapes in the room.
The effect stays with me. Coming home I notice rectangles in the photographs on my windowsill, repeated in the larger rectangles of the window frame and door. I am even moved to tidy away some of my clutter so that the impact of the repeating rectangles is more pronounced.