Opening Hours

Café, galleries and shop: Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 5pm

House: Tuesday – Sunday 12  – 5pm

Free, timed entry tickets to the House are available at the information desk on arrival or online here.

Last entry to the House is at 4.30pm

Access Information & Contact Us

Find access information here. 

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

 

Kettle’s Yard News

Be the first to hear our latest news by signing up to our mailing list.

For our latest blogs click here

Find out What’s On at Kettle’s Yard here.

 

In collaboration with the University of Cambridge Museums, Artist: Unknown brings together works of art from across the University’s collections. A podcast series has been produced to run alongside the exhibition, and we will be taking a closer look at some of the objects discussed.

In the second podcast of the series, Director of the Archaeology and Anthropology Museum (MAA), Nicholas Thomas, discusses the inclusion of an early 20th– century painted Barkcloth from Fiji, in our Artist: Unknown exhibition. Barkcloth, known generically as tapa, is a material that has been produced throughout the Pacific Islands for millennia. It is made through the soaking and beating of the inner bark of trees. Following this, bold patterns and designs are stencilled and stamped onto the surface, to give it a striking look. In Fiji, tapa is typically full of striking geometric and optical designs, much like the one on display in our exhibition.

Installation view of Barkcloth, Artist: Unknown, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, 2019. Image: Stephen White

Nicholas Thomas suggests that objects like these were likely used as ceremonial gifts. The gifts shouldn’t just be valuable, but visually dazzling and impressive. This need for artistic brilliance underlined the art style and led to many highly individual pieces of Barkcloth being produced.

“it’s absolutely an individual, highly dynamic painting” – Nicholas Thomas

Ethnographic objects such as this have long been thought of simply as representations of material culture, as opposed to individual creations or works of art. However, by looking at this tapa, we can begin to understand how artefacts of material culture such as this can be seen as artworks in their own right. Whilst the artist of this particular one is not currently known to the MAA, further research in the future might be able to uncover whether there are more Barkcloths by the same artist, recognisable due to the distinctive, artistic style.

Learn more about the Barkcloth by listening to the podcast and visiting our current exhibition.

Listen to the podcasts here.