30 June 2020
Image above: Jim and Helen Ede in Tangier, c. 1937
We are delighted to share with you our latest series, ‘Tangier Days: the Edes in Morocco, 1936-52’. Drawing on material from the Kettle’s Yard Archive and Swan family archive, the series takes a closer look at the years Jim and Helen Ede – Kettle’s Yard’s creators – spent living in Tangier, Morocco.
In London I was privileged to live in a very beautiful Georgian house to which a varied and large circle of people liked to come – musicians and painters and sculptors, writers and scholars and dancers, bank clerks and ‘society’; and this was a very great education to me, and I think a source of pleasure to them. […] In 1935 I resigned from the Tate Gallery, let my London house, bought land in Tangier, North Africa, and there built a house to my own designs.
– Jim Ede, undated typescript (c. 1941)
‘Whitestone’, the Edes’ new house in Tangier, could not have been more different to Hampstead: radical in its modernist design, perched on a high ridge of land with views stretching far across the surrounding landscape. Nevertheless, the Edes continued their habit of surrounding themselves with people that interested them. Their home once again became a social hub for the community of expat writers, artists, socialites and diplomats that had flocked to Tangier – then an ‘International Zone’ – and its promise of cosmopolitan freedom.
Excluding the war years, the Edes lived in Tangier until 1952 before moving to France, and eventually Cambridge, where they created Kettle’s Yard in 1957. In spite of this, surprisingly little archival material exists from this remarkable period. One of our main sources is a 200-page, unpublished typescript by Jim Ede documenting the years 1946-47, when he and Helen hosted servicemen on leave from the garrison in Gibraltar each week at Whitestone. Servicemen expecting to visit Tangier for the shopping and nightlife found themselves treated to art, classical music, picnics and countryside walks. Radical and idealistic, the scheme laid the groundwork for Ede’s ultimate vision for Kettle’s Yard: a space where people – especially young people – could encounter art, music and literature within the sanctuary of a domestic space.
Read Tangier Days
The series features extracts from Jim Ede’s writings as well as unpublished photographs of life in Tangier. You can read it by following the links below. This page will be updated regularly so keep checking back.
A note from the Director
The temporary closure of Kettle’s Yard due to the pandemic became an opportunity to research, compile and write this series about Helen and Jim Ede and their time in Tangier. If you have enjoyed the series please consider becoming a Friend or Patron of Kettle’s Yard, or making a donation. We need your support more than ever during this challenging time. All donations small or large make a difference to what we can do: supporting the conservation and upkeep of the Kettle’s Yard House and collection, making original exhibitions, engaging with local schools and communities and continuing to research, write and publish.