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.
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”.
As I write this post, Spring is very definitely in the air, the sun is shining in a blue sky and we hope for beautiful weather next week for the half term break. I’ve put together a few details of events in the city, many of which are free, both indoors and outdoors so you’re covered whatever the weather!
One of my favourite green spaces in the city is the Cambridge University Botanic Garden and there’s lots to do here for all ages. Spring into Yoga on 19 February offers springtime yoga sequences for 8 – 12 year olds to get bodies moving and minds focused and calm. The Red Alert Twilight Event on 20 February is a free, drop in session where you’ll see some of the world’s most endangered plants and meet the people helping these plants to survive. Flowers, Friendship and Wild Wonders on 22 February tells the story of a friendship – expect dancing, drama and lots of fun for 5 – 7 year olds. And if you’re free ranging around the Botanic Garden at any time, children will love the Crazy Cone Caper, a self guided family trail. You’ll find details of all these events on http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk
If you’ve seen the movie “Night at the Museum” and wondered how it feels to wander round a museum after hours, now’s your chance to find out at Cambridge University’s “Twilight at the Museums” event. Explore fourteen local museums and collections after dark on 20 February from 4.30 – 7.30pm and experience these spaces and collections in a different way. This is a free, drop in event for families with activities and themed trails across the venues, most of which are just a short walk apart. So wrap up warm and bring a torch to help you explore those darker corners. Visit www.museums.cam.ac.uk for full details.
Kettle’s Yard On Castle Hill has plenty lined up for the break, starting with Studio Sunday, a free, drop in artist-led workshop for families on 17 February. On 19 February, they are running a Collage Workshop for 8 – 12 year olds and a free Portfolio Afternoon for those aged 13+ who’d like to work with a professional artist to develop their drawing practice and their portfolio. From 21 – 24 February there’ll be free drop in drawing activities each afternoon, suitable for all ages and abilities, in the Clore Learning Studio. Or come and explore spirals, webs and weaving at the free, drop in Dream Weaver Community Day on 23 February. Further details of all these and booking, where booking is necessary, on http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk
Heffers Booksellers are a Cambridge institution – they’ve been selling books in the city for over 140 years. Children’s at Heffers is offering a number of free events over half term so you can meet authors, join in fun activities and enjoy Story Time. See the photo for details and book your place via http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/heffersbookshop
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Regular 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 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
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
Kettle’s Yard House and Gallery on Castle Street has recently reopened after a lengthy refurbishment which has enabled Director, Andrew Nairne, and his team to create new gallery space to display modern and contemporary art from around the world.
The opening exhibition, “Actions. The image of the world can be different”, showcases the work of thirty eight artists. “Actions Part 2” will open on 11 April with a two screen film installation, “Auto Da Fe”, from John Akomfrah and paintings by Caroline Walker who, in collaboration with the charity Women for Refugee Women, has painted refugee women housed in temporary accommodation in London.
At the heart of Kettle’s Yard is the house, once home to Jim and Helen Ede who created it from four derelict eighteenth century cottages in the late 1950’s. With a lifelong passion for art and having worked as a Curator at The Tate during the 1920’s, Jim became close friends with many artists including Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood and David Jones. Over the years, Jim acquired a significant collection of art and sculpture which he brought to Kettle’s Yard along with furniture, glass and ceramics. But the Edes equally valued natural found objects and artwork by their grandchildren. More than anything, they wanted their art to be enjoyed in an informal domestic setting, holding open house every afternoon of the university term and welcoming undergraduates to their home.
Natural light was crucial to the Edes. The day I visited, the streets were carpeted in snow and the light had a very special ethereal quality to it. I was struck by the tranquillity of the house and by its colour palette with exposed brick, varying tones of wood, natural linens, pebbles, feathers and shells, all harmonising with the Ede’s art collection to create a wonderful serenity. Jim and Helen handed over the building and their collection to the University of Cambridge in 1966 so they knew it was in safe hands but it must have been a wrench for them to leave this peaceful haven when they moved to Edinburgh in 1973.
The Ede’s musical tradition continues today with a varied programme of contemporary music and chamber concerts in the house. New archive and research areas have given enhanced research opportunities in collaboration with the University’s History of Art Department. A breathtaking double height space is now home to Kettle’s Yard’s education and community programme, hosting a year round schedule of events and activities, many of them free, for all age groups. It includes workshops, talks, panel discussions and artist led drop in workshops for families every Sunday.
At The Garden Kitchen Cafe, you’ll find tea, Fairtrade coffee, cake and light lunches with vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. The Shop offers a carefully curated selection of cards, prints, books and jewellery with ceramics from The Leach Pottery and from local ceramicists Rachel Dormor and Maree Allitt alongside beautiful bespoke wrapping paper from Cambridge Imprint, its design inspired by a Barbara Hepworth fabric.
Kettle’s Yard is a very special place that I know I will return to again and again. There’s such a lot going on there, far more than I can write about in this post, so do check out the website for full details of all that’s happening over the coming months. Then go and experience the magic of Kettle’s Yard for yourself.