Kettle’s Yard House & Gallery

Currently closed while we carry out a major building project

+44 (0)1223 748 100
mail@kettlesyard.cam.ac.uk

Kettle’s Yard: Off site

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Kettle’s Yard: Looking Ahead

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Friends of Kettle's Yard

The Friends of Kettle’s Yard had the opportunity to be taken round the studio of British op-artist, Bridget Riley, on a personal tour. Here Lindsay Millington, tells us about their visit.

A damp walk over the railway line and through a small park brought us to the converted church hall that has been Bridget Riley’s East London studio since the 1980s. It is a rambling building, tucked at the end of a residential street, that opens on its upper floor into a vast, double-height space flooded with natural light. The artist – full of energy and enthusiasm, and greeting her thirty visitors as if we were all old friends – explained that all her works are made in daylight: ‘winter is hell’, she told us. Bridget Riley works with stripes and curves and with colour relationships. Each of her finished paintings is preceded by preparing multitudes of colour test cards exploring tonal variations hardly discernible by the untutored eye, followed by experimentation, analysis and planning using pre-cut strips of different widths and shapes.

Once chosen, colours must be mixed in sufficient quantity and to just the right consistency, as it is impossible to reproduce them precisely, and we watched a skilled assistant painting carefully prepared cut-paper pieces with extraordinary brush control, applying just the right amount of paint to achieve an absolutely flat surface.

We saw work in progress for a forthcoming exhibition, its rhythms and depths achieved through a single, co-ordinated palette of reds, oranges, greens and grey; saw how a work could be created so that the rows of stripes rise from bottom to top; and how depth might be achieved through modulating colour. Ladders were brought out to move large pieces from the wall so we could view others. Our questions were answered: possibilities emerge from ‘listening to what the colours are saying’ ; the finished works have meaning, ‘but if you can’t identify it, that’s alright’. The range of work we saw equalled the best of exhibitions. The insight and inspiration from talking to the artist herself was very special.
Thank you Bridget!

~ Lindsay Millington

Becoming a Friend is an excellent way of providing support and developing your own interest in art. The Friends organise a variety of activities including visits to other galleries, private collections and artists’ studios, long weekends to various centres of art within the U.K. and abroad, special talks and an annual party. Find out how to become a Friend of Kettle’s Yard here