My sister has been promising to take me to Kettle's Yard for a long time now, but somehow or other we've never quite made it; whenever we've gone to Cambridge it's been closed, or we've been committed to doing something else, or whatever. This time, the first day I was in England, I asked if we might go.
Now I find everyone, everywhere, I mention it to tells me that they know and love the place better than almost any other museum or gallery anywhere, and it would seem that I must be the very last person on earth to visit it, so I won't write a big introduction. The website is excellent, and will show and tell you more about the place, its founders and history, than I can; suffice it to say I can quite well understand why it is everyone's favourite museum or gallery anywhere, even though it's not really quite either of those things, in the traditionally accepted sense.
I hadn't expected to be able to take pictures, but in fact for a fee of £2 (entry is free), and on the understanding that I would not use flash, I could take all I could eat. Tom encountered a similar arrangement at Southwark cathedral when he was in London, and it's a good one, I think. I was the only person photographing, none of the usual hordes of slightly spaced-out looking people holding out their phones at everything like members of a Star Trek away team exploring the surface of a new planet, though I suspect this was as much to do with the milieu and the people who typically visit it than an unwillingness to pay up. As I never use flash anyway and always have all the stupid artificial whirring and clicking noises on the camera turned off, I hope I was being discreet and not intrusive. My niece T, who was with us, said she didn't really know if I was photographing or not, which was good.
Taking nice photos at Kettle's Yard is really like shooting proverbial fish in a proverbial barrel (a figure of speech that has always puzzled me somewhat, since the action would seem to me unreliable and potentially hazardous, leading to a leaking barrel at best and a dangerous wet ricochet at worst; I wonder if anyone has in fact done it?)
The beauty of the objects and spaces, their lighting and compositional arrangements, can rarely be faulted, you don't have to do any work to find a good picture everywhere you turn.
Consequently, I took an awful lot of pictures, which, with the demands of the garden in a few much needed days of dry weather, and other things, since I came home, I've not finished editing. To start with though, this plexiglass hanging sculpture mobile: a great, slowly turning lens in a leafy alcove.
It hung by a light nylon thread, which seemed too fine to support it, and would twirl gently when you so much as blew on it; a slight touch to it, unthinking, with the back of my knuckle, brought the wrath of the lady attendant down on my head: 'Fingermarks!' she rebuked. Quite right too.
There are no labels on anything here, which is one reason that it's different and better than other museums or galleries - if you want to know about anything you can buy a guide or ask one of the attendants, but in fact the meditative, immersive quality of the place, and the sense that it was, and still is, a home and the things there its inhabitants, make one disinclined to want to go around with your nose in a catalogue or needing to elicit a continuous noisy commentary from someone.
So I can't tell you who made the plexiglass sculpture mobile.
But we felt we could look at it for a long time. T looks as if she is consulting it in oracular fashion, (perhaps to learn who is the fairest of Lucy's nieces of them all, which is an unanswerable question, they're all gorgeous).
I tried to video it in motion, but unfortunately it didn't come out, I'm not familiar enough with the video function on this camera, which is not intuitive like the old one was, or I'm just inept. Instead here's a series of still shots.
More Kettle's Yard stuff later, but it's another dry day and outside I must go.