Kettle’s Yard House & Gallery

Currently closed until 10 February 2018.

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

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Kettle’s Yard’s Oral History Archive

What is ReCollection?

ReCollection is a cross-generational oral history archive that reflects how people think and feel about Kettle’s Yard. ReCollection offers a selection of extracts from interviews with people of all ages, some of whom have known Kettle’s Yard for decades, some of whom were visiting for the first time.

When were the interviews recorded?

The oral history project ran from January 2008 to January 2010. We worked with a team of 15 volunteers, taking in-depth interviews with 42 people who know Kettle’s Yard well. We also ran practical art workshops with two primary school classes and a group of four-year-olds and their parents from a local Children’s Centre, many of whom had never visited before. We recorded over 100 hours of interviews. Also included are older recordings, from the archive, of Kettle’s Yard creator Jim Ede.

What do the interviews cover?

The in-depth interviews capture the oral testimony of those with a long-standing relationship with Kettle’s Yard. We interviewed both of Jim and Helen Ede’s daughters, Elisabeth Swan and Mary Adams, as well as many of the previous curators, two of whom had ‘lived in’ after the Edes moved to Edinburgh. We also interviewed artists who have exhibited and musicians who have performed at Kettle’s Yard, supporters who were crucial in the transition of Kettle’s Yard from private home to University of Cambridge collection and many friends and visitors who feel a strong connection with the house.

We wanted to reveal the daily life and enduring influence of Kettle’s Yard, collecting memories that span decades.

As a counterpoint to the historical nature of the in-depth interviews, we wanted to capture a snapshot of Kettle’s Yard today. In February and March 2009, 10 children and their parents from The Fields Children’s Centre in Cambridge visited Kettle’s Yard for two practical art workshops. Artist Filipa Pereira-Stubbs introduced the group to the house through a series of drawing activities and oral history volunteers recorded the children’s first responses.

In June 2009, Class 4 and Class 5 from St John’s CE Primary School, Huntingdon, worked with Filipa to make mini-dioramas of their own ideal spaces, taking inspiration from the Kettle’s Yard house. We collected interviews with all 54 children. We completed that part of the project with an exhibition in the school hall, curated and installed by the children.

Who made it happen?

We are extremely grateful to everyone who has contributed to this oral history project, especially our team of volunteers. Without their generosity in time and spirit, this archive would not have been possible.

ReCollection: Kettle’s Yard Oral History Archive Project was funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Cambridgeshire County Council. Seed-funding for our pilot project was generously provided by Renaissance East of England Community Learning and Outreach Fund, administered through the University of Cambridge Museums Development Officer.

What next?

We hope to conduct more interviews and expand the resource in future. If you would like to conduct research in the oral history archive or if you have a memory of Kettle’s Yard that you would like to share, get in touch via mail@kettlesyard.cam.ac.uk or ring 01223 748100.