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12 September 2017


by Eunhae Lim, postgraduate at the University of Leicester

Kettle’s Yard’s Student Picture Loan Scheme is a special privilege for students of the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University. All students are invited to choose from 180 original works of art from the Kettle’s Yard Student Loan Collection. Over the last decade, each academic year approximately 100 works of art – paintings, drawings, and photographs – have been borrowed from Kettle’s Yard, to spend a whole year in students’ rooms.

Lending artworks to students has been an integral part of Kettle’s Yard since it was started by Jim Ede in 1957. This scheme is particularly unique because it is based on trust; Kettle’s Yard trusts that students will value and respect artworks they borrow; and subsequently, as an extension of Jim’s philosophy that Kettle’s Yard is a continuing way of life, this opportunity will influence students’ ‘ways of life’ during their studies in Cambridge.

Jim Ede and Kettle’s Yard have provided the chance for students to freely select artworks from the Loan Collection and position them in their rooms ‘reflecting [their own] taste[s] or the taste of given period.’ Jim’s visitors’ book written between 1968 and 1970 show that art historian, Richard Shone, borrowed artworks by John Blackburn, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, and Trevor Bell from Jim in his time in Cambridge as an Undergraduate at Clare College.

Speaking about the scheme, Shone said that he always displayed borrowed artworks in the sitting room rather than his bedroom, where his other pictures were hung. He said, “the collection at Kettle’s Yard was an eye-opener for me – especially for Gaudier-Brzeska, Alfred Wallis, and Ben Nicholson.” However, “I was already extremely interested in art so a borrowed work was a confirmation of a way of life and a view of arts rather than a step in a new direction.”

Shone borrowed one of John Blackburn’s paintings, Composition, circa 1963 (pictured above) from Jim Ede in 1968, according to Jim’s visitors’ book.

Recent feedback from former borrower Lizzie Marx reflects Jim’s philosophy. In several lectures in America, Jim emphasised the importance of looking at artworks ‘with our own eyes – not with the borrowed spectacles’ and continuously looking at them, without judging. Lizzie Marx was a third-year undergraduate student at King’s College when she borrowed Roy Turner Durrant’s drawing, Sitting 1, (pictured below) in 2013. She hung the drawing so that it was the first thing she saw when she entered her room. “I looked at it a lot, as I enjoyed scanning the square to decipher the figure’s limbs,” she said. ‘This piece caught my eye not only because is it an interesting composition, with its configurations of contorted shapes, but also because it is a compelling historical document: ‘To Jim Ede on his leaving Cambridge, 1973 – Roy Turner Durrant’, it reads below. It was a commemorative piece given as a gift to Jim when he and Helen left for Edinburgh, and I loved that this was a personal tribute to Jim and a poignant moment in Kettle’s Yard’s history.”

Find out more about the Kettle’s Yard Student Picture Loan Scheme here