Feast & Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800 at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

A gigantic pineapple, resplendent on a bright pink plinth, has landed on the front lawn of The Fitzwilliam Museum.  An installation by contemporary artists Bompas & Parr, this symbol of hospitality and welcome heralds the opening of Feast & Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800, a remarkable new exhibition celebrating the production, preparation and presentation of food, its consumption or rejection as well as its ideologies and identities.

Feast and Fast at the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge

This story of food is told through nearly three hundred objects, a beautifully curated mix of ceramics, paintings, textiles, books, glassware and magnificent Cambridge Renaissance silver tableware from two Cambridge colleges.  Many of these artefacts were already held in the Fitzwilliam’s reserves and a number of paintings have been especially conserved for this exhibition, their bright colours singing out against the dark grey walls of the galleries.

Feast & Fast at the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge

Internationally renowned food historian Ivan Day has created three bespoke and historically accurate culinary recreations – a sugar banquet for an English renaissance wedding, an English 18th century confectioner’s shop window and workspace and a Baroque feasting table.  These intricate recreations took my breath away.  It was fascinating to hear Ivan speak about how he researched and made them, wherever possible using original moulds from his own collection, several of which are also on display.

Feast & Fast at the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge

If you like food, you’ll love this exhibition.  We live in a world of supermarkets where we can pretty much get our hands on any type of food at any time of year.  This exhibition reminds us that in days past, feasting and fasting were linked to the liturgical calendar as well as to seasonality (although many of the artists ignore seasonality in favour of portraying an abundant table in their paintings!).  It presents food in a religious and moral context, as a display of wealth, status and power, as medicine, as an aphrodisiac and even looks at its role in national stereotypes, politics and satire.  And I learned that vegetarianism and veganism are nothing new … debates about the impact of these ways of eating on the body were happening back in the early modern period too.

Feast & Fast at the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge

The final room of the exhibition, painted bright pineapple yellow, is a creative zone where visitors can relax and respond to what they’ve seen.  You’ll find contemporary cookery books alongside facsimiles of historical cookery books, scent boxes, objects to handle, a short film and activities for children as well as an opportunity to give your feedback.

Feast & Fast at the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge

Feast & Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800 opens on 26 November and runs until 26 April 2020.  Don’t miss it!!

http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street, CB2

 

 

The Rising Tide: Women at Cambridge

The Rising Tide: Women at Cambridge exhibition marks 150 years since the foundation of the first women’s college and shines a light on the life of women at the University, from Nobel Prize winners to student activists to those who worked as bedmakers, gardeners, typists and cooks … women who faced a variety of challenges and broke down many barriers.

The Rising Tide: Women at Cambridge

The North and South Galleries of the University Library are lined with paintings and photographs of women who have made exceptional contributions in so many fields, to the University and to women’s equality.  From Baroness Brenda Hale of Richmond (President of our Supreme Court, who quashed the recent prorogation of Parliament and who also has a nice line in brooches) to Helen Stephens (the first female Head Porter of a Cambridge college) and Kate Litman (CUSU Women’s Officer 2019), to name just a few, these women have shaped and are shaping the University that we know today.

Baroness Brenda Hale of Richmond
Baroness Brenda Hale of Richmond

Downstairs in the Milstein Exhibition Centre, the story of the lived experience of women at Cambridge and their fight for equal educational rights is told through costumes, letters, documents and audio visual material.  It’s astonishing to realise that women were only given full membership of the University in 1948, previous requests for equality in 1897 and 1921 having been put to the vote and rejected.

Cambridge University Poster 1897
Image reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge

Girton College (founded 1869) and Newnham College (founded 1871) offered courses to women but they could not be awarded degrees.  Between 1904 and 1907, Trinity College Dublin offered these women the chance to travel to Dublin to officially graduate and receive a full degree – those who took up this offer were known as “steamboat ladies” due to their mode of travel!  And on what must have been a joyous day in 1998, 900 women who had never been able to graduate with full degrees processed up King’s Parade to Senate House to graduate at last.

Trinity College Dublin c. 1904
Trinity College Dublin c. 1904  Image credit: Girton College

Cambridge University Library has existed in some form since the middle of the 14th century.  Since 1934, its collections have been housed in a magnificent but slightly forbidding looking building on West Road designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the architect who also created our iconic red telephone boxes and Battersea Power Station.  The Library contains more than 8 million books and periodicals, 1 million maps and thousands of manuscripts.  As a legal deposit library, it is entitled to acquire a copy of every book and journal published in the UK and Ireland, which explains its 125 miles plus of shelving and the fact that said shelving extends by 2 miles every year.

Cambridge University Library
Image credit: Cambridge University Library

There is so much to see in this moving and thought provoking exhibition.  It’s a wonderful chance to explore collections from across the University and colleges in this iconic Library building.  The exhibition and a linked programme of events is free and open to all.  The Rising Tide: Women at Cambridge runs until 21 March 2020 and is open every day except Sunday.

http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk

Cam Lates Cambridge

March brings us a couple of Cam Late events.  Pacific Late celebrates all things Pacific on 7 March at the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology.  Quaff a tropical cocktail as you watch Polynesian dancing, handle Pacific objects, meet researchers and upcycle crafts inspired by the new Pacific Currents display which highlights Oceanic collections dating from the late 18th Century to the present day.

Kettle's Yard Late Cambridge
Image credit: Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge 2018  Photo: Daniela Florez

LATE at Kettle’s Yard is happening on 8 March and invites you to come dressed as your favourite artist to enjoy music, making and a café/bar plus an out of hours viewing of the exhibitions “ARTIST ROOMS Louise Bourgeois” and “Julie Mehreta Drawings and Monotypes”.

Booking for both events is on www.museums.cam.ac.uk/whats-on/cam-lates

“Illuminating Cambridge Libraries” photography exhibition

The University of Cambridge is a world leading seat of learning and at the heart of each of its thirty one colleges sits a library, the hub that preserves books, manuscripts and documents and which has disseminated knowledge down the generations.  Photographer Sara Rawlinson has turned her lens onto these contemplative places, which are often hidden from public view, in her project “Illuminating Cambridge Libraries”.

Corpus Christi College, Parker Library
The Parker Library, Corpus Christi College.  Image credit: Sara Rawlinson

As well as wider shots of the libraries, Sara particularly likes to concentrate on tiny details of structures and textures such as radiator grilles, bolts, shelving systems and their numbering.  Sara will be showing images from twenty five college libraries at her “Illuminating Cambridge Libraries” exhibition which is happening at the Heong Gallery in Downing College from 11 – 17 February.  The exhibition will also feature several rotating pyramidal lecterns designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the late 17th century and which are being loaned by the Wren Library at Trinity College.

Handles at Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Handles at Emmanuel College Library.  Image credit: Sara Rawlinson

Sara grew up in Minnesota, USA, working throughout her childhood alongside her photographer grandmother in the dark room.  She went on to have a very successful research and academic career, taking a PhD in Seismology and Earth Sciences and subsequently running a Masters degree course in Natural Hazards at the Australian National University.  Throughout her scientific career, Sara continued to take art classes and eventually left the academic world to pursue her love of photography.  She relocated to Cambridge with her husband and young daughter a couple of years ago and now runs a full time fine art photography studio from her home in the city.

Sara Rawlinson at King's College, Cambridge
Sara in King’s College Chapel.  Image credit: Sara Rawlinson

Alongside the “Illuminating Cambridge Libraries” project, at the invitation of the Dean of Chapel at King’s College, Sara has been photographing the historic Chapel in a new light with an artist’s eye, capturing images of areas that are hidden from view and tiny details that are often overwhelmed by the grandiosity of the space.  It’s as well that Sara has a head for heights as she’s climbed the tiny stairwell and negotiated the narrow corridors to get on to the Chapel roof and has also, by serendipity, been up in a cherry picker (which was deployed to replace lights in the Chapel), allowing her to take some amazing shots from a lofty perspective.

Old Library, Jesus College, Cambridge
Old Library, Jesus College.  Image credit: Sara Rawlinson

Sara’s work was featured in the national press and online in 2018 as three of her images across both projects were shortlisted for the Historic Photographer of the Year award.  She is a member of Cambridge Open Studios, a community of around five hundred artists, craftspeople and designer-makers working throughout Cambridgeshire.  Last year, she transformed her house into a gallery for the first time to showcase her photography as part of the annual Open Studios event which takes place over weekends in July each year.  This year, Sara is planning to show her work at Open Studios again but this time in the Cellarer’s Chequer in Beche Road, a Grade 2* listed building owned by Cambridge City Council which is on the site of Barnwell Priory and which is rarely open to the public.

Library, Newnham College, Cambridge
Newnham College Library.  Image credit: Sara Rawlinson

 

The “Illuminating Cambridge Libraries” exhibition at the Heong Gallery will be open from 10.30am – 6pm each day from 11 – 17 February and entry is free.  There will be a Private View on 11 February from 6.30 – 8.30pm which will include readings from Cambridge based poet Michael Brown of poetry he has written in Pembroke College Library.  For more information on the exhibition, on Sara’s work, to register for the Private View and to buy prints, visit http://www.sararawlinson.com

Rowan Winter Warmer and “Cambridge Seen” Art Exhibition

It’s always a pleasure to visit Rowan, the Humberstone Road based arts centre and charity for people with learning disabilities.  There’s such a friendly and purposeful atmosphere there as the student artists go about their work in small groups with tutors.  They create beautiful pieces in the wood, ceramics, print, textiles and mixed media studios, undertake many private commissions and sell their work at exhibitions and events.

Rowan Cambridge reindeers
Image credit: Rowan

Rowan Cambridge ceramic Christmas treeRowan is holding its popular annual Winter Warmer on Wednesday 5 December from 5 – 8pm.  Everybody is welcome and entry is free.  You’ll find handmade gifts and cards, wooden reindeer, wooden table displays and ceramic tree decorations to buy and you can make a gorgeous ceramic Christmas tree at the Christmas workshop.  And, of course, there’ll be mulled wine, mince pies and live music too!

Rowan Cambridge Christmas Wreaths
Image credit: Rowan

Rowan’s major fundraiser for 2019 is the “Cambridge Seen” art exhibition, happening on 9 and 10 February at Long Road Sixth Form College.  To be part of this, you can get creative and produce a piece of art work or go along to the exhibition to invest in some art.  Or indeed, you can do both!  You don’t need to be a professional artist at all … just buy a canvas from Rowan for £10 and, using whatever media you like, make a piece of art inspired by your view of Cambridge.  A bridge, a building, a landscape, your garden … there’s no limit to the possibilities.  Then when you’re done, return your completed canvas to Rowan by 1 February.  Here are a couple of artworks that have been returned to them already.

Rowan Cambridge Art Exhibition

Every penny raised from this “Cambridge Seen” exhibition will go to fund Rowan’s work.  Activities here give the students a daily routine and structure as well as helping with development of their social and communication skills, building their self-esteem and increasing their self-confidence.  There’s a real buzz as they mingle in the light, spacious communal areas at breaks and mealtimes.  All places are subsidised so there is a need for fundraising year round to make sure that this remarkable venture and its student artists can continue to thrive.

Rowan Cambridge Art Exhibition

For more details of Rowan, the Winter Warmer and the “Cambridge Seen” art exhibition, take a look at the website.

http://www.rowanhumberstone.co.uk

40 Humberstone Road, Cambridge CB4 1JG

Cambridge Original Printmakers Biennale

Cambridge Original Printmakers Biennale returns to the city from 21 – 29 September with forty three printmakers, who specialise in hand-pulled original prints, exhibiting at the historic Pitt Building on Trumpington Street.

Louise Stebbing: Hunstanton Cliffs linocut
Louise Stebbing:  Hunstanton Cliffs linocut

The Biennale was inaugurated in 2014 by three local printmakers who built it into a bigger event in 2016, adding more speakers, workshops and demonstrations as well as producing a catalogue.  This year, the exhibition is further expanded to showcase the next generation of printmakers from the city’s two sixth form colleges and the Art Foundation courses at Cambridge Regional College as well as graduates of the MA Printmaking course at Cambridge School of Art.

Tracey Ashman Summoning Laso
Tracey Ashman:  Summoning Laso

I met with Steve and Tracey Ashman, both members of the core team which organises this event.  They’re working hard to develop the educational aspect of the Biennale with an enriched programme of workshops, demonstrations and talks lined up.  They’re also producing a limited edition book featuring the work of all the printmakers exhibiting this year.  And in a fascinating marriage of cutting edge technology with traditional printmaking techniques, their 3D Print Project will use a 3D printer to create a plastic template which is inked up and then hand pulled on a press.

Sue Jones Moon Dance ll
Sue Jones:  Moon Dance II

Organising the Biennale is no mean feat.  Steve and Tracey tell me that planning starts twenty months in advance when the core team comes together, each member bringing a different skill set and taking on different responsibilities.  Printmakers, who must live within a thirty five mile radius of Cambridge, submit their work by the end of January, then the images are sent to an independent panel of art world professionals.  Their selection process takes time as entries are always oversubscribed but by the end of March, two thirds of submissions have been accepted.  The Biennale all comes together in one gloriously hectic day in September as the team sets up the exhibition in the Pitt Building before opening with a private view that evening.

The Cambridge Original Printmakers Biennale is open from 10.30am – 5pm each day and entry is free.  Talks are free but there is a charge for workshops.  A booking facility for these plus full details of the programme are on the event website.

http://www.cambridgeoriginalprintmakers.com

The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RP

This post is part of my “New in Cambridge” column in September’s issue of Velvet magazine.  See more on http://www.velvetmag.co.uk

Cambridge Open Studios

The annual Cambridge Open Studios event returns as the workshops and studios of 350 artists, craftspeople and designer-makers across Cambridgeshire open their doors over four weekends in July to showcase painting, ceramics, sculpture, handmade jewellery, glass, photography and much more.

Cambridge Open Studios logo 2018
Image credit: Cambridge Open Studios

This is a great opportunity to see artists at work, to discuss their techniques and inspiration and to browse, buy or even commission their work, although there is no pressure to buy.  Entry to all studios is free.  Last week, I caught up with a couple of participants who are getting ready for Open Studios.

Sara Rawlinson library
Image credit: Sara Rawlinson

Sara RawlinsonRegular readers of this blog may remember photographer, Sara Rawlinson, who I first met last September when I wrote about her journey from seismology to photography and her exhibition at Michaelhouse, “Illuminating Cambridge Libraries”.  Over these past months, Sara has continued with her project, taking stunning photographs of more college libraries.  She has plans for another exhibition and is also branching out into flower photography, particularly looking at tiny details, the texture of petals and frosty grasses in monochrome.

Sara Rawlinson flower
Image credit: Sara Rawlinson

Sara is looking forward to opening her home studio in Beche Road for the first time and will be welcoming visitors on all four weekends.  Find out more about Sara and her work on http://www.sararawlinson.com

Rowan Humberstone Cambridge

Over at Rowan in Humberstone Road, the student artists are hard at work creating beautiful pieces in their studios.  Rowan is an arts centre for people with learning disabilities and there’s truly a family atmosphere here.  The student artists are supported to be autonomous, encouraged to learn and try new things and to enjoy being together in the light, airy social spaces that run through the building.

Rowan Humberstone Cambridge woodcarvingRowan Humberstone Cambridge woodwork

The work spaces were a hive of activity when I dropped in last week, with gorgeous cards being produced in the Print Studio, wooden phone stands, lamps and candlesticks coming from the Woodwork Studio and bright felted wool scarves hanging up to dry in the Textiles Studio.

Rowan Humberstone Cambridge textiles

The Ceramic and Mixed Media studios were equally busy and the Rowan team, who are old hands at the Cambridge Open Studios event, are looking forward to welcoming visitors on the weekend of 7 and 8 July.  Proceeds from the sale of the student artists’ work go straight back into the charity to enable their remarkable work to continue.  Rowan also takes commissions for one off pieces.  You’ll find more on http://www.rowanhumberstone.co.uk

Rowan Humberstone Cambridge vase
Image credit: Rowan

In a new initiative, Cambridge Open Studios has joined forces with ofo bikes this year, with the dual aim of helping visitors travel between city centre studios easily whilst reducing the environmental impact of the event.  You can locate ofo bikes using the free ofo Smartphone app, available from the App Store or Google Play.  Then just use a code printed in the Open Studios yellow guidebook to claim five free one hour ofo bike rides and get pedalling!

ofo bicycle Cambridge
Image credit: ofo

Studios will be open to visitors from 11am to 6pm on July 7/8, 14/15, 21/22 and 28/29 and entry is free.  Do bear in mind that not every artist will exhibit every weekend.  You’ll find printed guides for this event in shops, galleries and libraries.  You can also go to the website to download the 2018 COS App which gives full details of the Open Studios together with an interactive map to help you with planning your day and navigation.

http://www.camopenstudios.co.uk

This event takes place at multiple locations in and around the city.