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Professor Jon Cook at the Kettle’s Yard building site
A few weeks ago I was standing on a constructed walkway about 5 metres above the Kettle’s Yard building site. The walk way runs along the back of the Castle Street facade which is now held up by an impressive combination of precise calculation and vast water tanks, that wouldn’t look out of place on a set for a film about medieval siege warfare. With our Victorian terrace, and it’s sober grey stone, behind me, I looked out towards the untouched Kettle’s Yard House over a hive of activity below. Down to my left the Clore Learning Studio was almost excavated out, while to my right I was able to watch a group of men in their hi-vis jackets working in the basement which will lie under our new Sackler Gallery. Beyond, standing in what will be our entrance courtyard, is the blue crane. It is so tall that at least one of our Friends has wondered if we are constructing a small skyscraper!
Beside me on the walkway is Cherie Evans, Head of Operations. Cherie spends much of her time here, meeting the builders and the architects in the warren of Portakabins filling Northampton Green. She is responsible for ensuring Kettle’s Yard is happy with decisions on site. Standing next to Cherie is Professor Jon Cook who is visiting us in his role as Chair of Arts Council England South East Committee. Arts Council England have given us £3.65 million towards the building project, about a third of the total cost, a huge vote of confidence in Kettle’s Yard and its future.
‘Wonderful to see the new building coming out of the ground and find out about the exciting plans for the future of Kettle’s Yard.’
Professor Jon Cook, Chair of Arts Council England South East, 5 September 2016
Like everyone, Jon is interested to know when we will re-open. I say in ‘about a year’. Now we are building upwards, our contractors are in their element and progress should be rapid, with less risk of delay. It is an exciting thought that we will soon be able to walk through the new gallery spaces and visit the Education Wing, both so long imagined and visualised.
If you want to watch the building taking shape, there is an excellent (and safe) view from St Peter’s Churchyard. You can enter the churchyard via a staircase on St Peter’s Street.