19 July 2013
a collaboration with students from the Royal College of Art
By the end of July our ‘House Guests’, objects and artworks from eight University of Cambridge Museum’s that have been carefully chosen and placed amongst the objects in the house, will be leaving Kettle’s Yard. If you haven’t been to see them yet, head down to the show before it closes on the 28 July. It has been a wonderful exhibition and we will be sad to see them go back to their respective collections. Alongside the exhibition is a publication created in collaboration between Jeremy Millar, Kettle’s Yard Associate Artist, and students from the Critical Writing in Art and Design programme at the Royal College of Art. Here Jessie Bond, RCA student, tells us more about the project.
The brief for the House Guests publication was relatively straightforward; eight of us were paired with one of the participating Cambridge University Museums to write a response to their chosen object and an interview with the Director of the museum. Alongside this, two students opted to focus on previous artist interventions in the cottages of Kettle’s Yard.
The project arose through one of our tutors Jeremy Millar, who is currently an Associate Artist at Kettle’s Yard. On the course there is a strong emphasis on finding a place for our writing to exist outside of the classroom. From responding to the initial brief through to working with the editors, taking part in this project was a fantastic opportunity to experience every aspect of writing for a “live” publication.
We visited Kettle’s Yard in February, to be fully briefed on what was expected from our writing by the team working on the project. For those of us who had not visited Kettle’s Yard before this was a chance to experience first hand the unique atmosphere created by the diverse collection of objects and artworks on display. This trip provided inspiration for our texts and enabled us to imagine how the houseguests might sit in their temporary home.
Back at the RCA we discussed potential questions for the interviews and decided upon a uniform format that would improve the readability of the publication. We established that the aim of the interview was to provide contextual information about the selected objects, whereas the shorter texts were a chance for a more personal response. In conversation with Jeremy we decided who would write about each object, based on our individual areas of interest and expertise. For me, it seemed an obvious choice to write about the Stereoscope from the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, as I have a particular interest in photography. Recently I have become increasingly interested in writing about visual technologies that alter the way we think about what we see.
I found the process of interviewing Liba Taub, director of the Whipple Museum very informative; it was great to find out more about the object and their reasons for choosing it for the project. When writing the short text about the stereoscope my aim was to encourage viewers not just to look closely but also to interact with the object, whilst drawing out connections with the history of Kettle’s Yard.
Writing about Kettle’s Yard is a daunting task as the carefully preserved curatorial approach initiated by Jim Ede speaks best for itself. Often the most rewarding visit occurs when you are left to your own devices to explore. As writers the challenge was to provide a context for the interventions in the cottages without being didactic, instead hoping to inspire the visitors to make their own links and discoveries. Throughout the project I felt privileged to join the long tradition of students who have benefitted from Jim Ede’s legacy at Kettle’s Yard.
~ Jessie Bond
Find out more about House Guests here. The exhibition runs until 28 July in Kettle’s Yard house, open 1.30 – 4.30pm Tuesday – Sunday.