20 December 2021
In this blog series, we’ll be taking a closer look at each of the artists included in our current display, Ivorypress at Kettle’s Yard.
This special display presents works by five artists placed in dialogue with the artworks, objects and spaces of the Kettle’s Yard House. The project is part of a multi-institutional exhibition taking place across Europe and the United States in 2021–22, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Ivorypress.
In Helen Ede’s bedroom, you can find six small black and white gelatin silver prints by photographer Mariana Cook. Born in 1955 in New York, Cook is perhaps best known for her portraits, including a 1996 photograph of a young Barack and Michelle Obama.
The photographs selected for Kettle’s Yard are altogether more abstract, while retaining the humanity and intimacy of Cook’s portraits. The meditative images reveal the artist’s ‘contemplation of matter and essence’ in the domestic space, including abstractions of interior corners, windows, curtains, light and shadow. Some were captured in her mother’s bedroom during the last ten days of her life.
Cook’s photographs feel quietly at home in this space. In the years when the Edes lived at Kettle’s Yard, from 1956 to 1973, Helen’s bedroom provided seclusion and sanctuary; a space of her own where she could find peace away from the stream of visitors each day.
Natural light is of central importance in Cook’s work: ‘Light is what inspires me to make photographs and that is what I live for. Light represents life’. Sunlight is vital to Kettle’s Yard too, with the shifting shadows and reflections animating the artworks and objects on display. At this time of year, when the sun is at its lowest, shafts of sunlight travel across the whitewashed walls and wooden floorboards, echoing the shadows of blinds and window frames captured in Cook’s photographs.