Kettle’s Yard Jackie Kay

Kettle’s Yard


Jim Ede’s vision for Kettle’s Yard was very clear; it was a place that should not be “an art gallery or museum… It is, rather, a continuing way of life from these last fifty years, in which stray objects, stones, glass, pictures, sculpture, in light and in space, have been used to make manifest the underlying stability.”

Over 100 artists are represented in the collection, including works by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Joan Miro, Constantin Brancusi, Naum Gabo.

Image: Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Dancer, 1913 (cast of 1967), Bronze, 765 x 220 x 210 mm

The elegant Dancer depicts an elongated figure moving forward. The model is thought to have been the painter Nina Hamnett, who posed on a few occasions for Gaudier. Here she is seen stepping down from the plinth with her arms upstretched and her upper body slightly twisting. The surface modelling lacks detailed finish, which also suggests movement by creating a gentle blurring effect.

Capturing motion in the apparently static medium of sculpture was a tough challenge. Gaudier took inspiration from Auguste Rodin, who was hugely influential on sculptors in the late 19th and early 20th century.

In his book L’Art, which Gaudier read in 1911, Rodin suggested depicting movement in sculpture by finding the fleeting moment when one stationary pose is switched to another – advice which Gaudier followed faithfully here.

Jackie Kay


Jackie Kay is a poet, novelist, and writer of short stories, and has enjoyed great acclaim for her work for both adults and children, winning The Guardian Fiction Prize for her debut novel Trumpet. Her most recent works are Red Dust Road, an autobiographical journey, and the volume of poetry Fiere. Born in Edinburgh, Jackie Kay teaches at Newcastle University, and lives in Manchester. In 2006 she was awarded an MBE for services to literature.

Jackie Kay


Helen's Room Jackie Kay

Not too late, then, to catch the blessed light

through the eyes of The Radar in this winter sun;

to see the past and present side by side;

to take your hand once again,

walk into the bitter biting wind.

The key turns on what we don’t understand.

Every joy is twinned

With an opposite:  a hinterland -

Ive been in Helens room,

A phrase to coin: happiness

reframed in the dark afternoon.

Not too late to know that as soon

As something was here once, it’s gone.


Not too late, in the House of Juxtapositions,

where Scotland and England meet, old friends,

to remember that last conversation

Might last to the nether land.

Here, where strangers pair, maps are bilinear;

balance acts, echoes matter;

stones, pebbles, shells, statues;

the great art of fractured crockery;

the democracy of light and dark.

Not too late to see the beauty in broken things:

that cracks can visibly mend;

the painted flowers can grow.

Love in separate rooms,

Single beds, matching spreads.


Not too late to allow Winifred to take you

past the daffodils, the Norman window

through the canvas, out to the churchyard …

the backdoor of Kettle’s Yard,

Where Helen and Jim walked

the path of the waiting graves;

remembering what you knew.

The old stones painted by light;

the last of the sun on the cobbled path.

Not too late to hear the song in your head,

that whistles whatever darkness lies ahead.

Not too late to hear the music of the blessed.

Kettle’s Yard


Archived posts

Workshops at Kettle’s Yard

22nd February 2013 | 0 Comment(s) | Kettle’s Yard

On Tuesday, Kettle’s Yard hosted a group of young people for the third of our six Thresholds workshops. During the half term, we had two amazing poetry workshops in the house, surrounded by the permanent art collection and everyday objects of Kettle’s Yard’s original owners, Jim and Helen Ede.


Led by Jackie, the group undertook a series of writing tasks, exploring the rooms and the objects through a variety of themes. For example, on the first day, the group responded to the idea of opposites – going into the house and finding a hot/cold, short/tall, rough/smooth combination of their choice and then writing an imagined conversation between the two. On the second day, the theme was ‘appearances can be deceptive’ and included writing a list of things that one would need to do to prepare for the unexpected.


Having composed a number of works, the group are now working with artist Filipa Pereira-Stubbs to transform their poems into installations, returning back to the house to position their re-imagined and re-formed words amongst the collection. This week, the group started the process of transformation by taking the letters of their names as a springboard to explore composition, framing, layouts, and finding connections between shapes and forms. We are really looking forward to seeing where their ideas go over the coming weeks.

Sarah Campbell, Education Officer at Kettle’s Yard

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