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Bare Trees and Hills, 1960 (circa)

The relatively underdeveloped Cambridge art scene of the 1950s and 1960s greatly benefited from the setting up of Kettle’s Yard. As Elisabeth Vellacott later recalled, “when Jim [Ede] first arrived in Cambridge few people, except for the small groups of artists living here, were aware that they lacked any place where they could see and enjoy any contemporary 20th Century Art. The Fitzwilliam were not concerned. Jim was a beam of light to us. He visited my studio, and as soon as Kettle’s Yard was opened, I went often to see him – and Helen. To my astonishment, he thought well of my drawings, and bought them for his collection. I felt for the first time that they were acknowledged, and had a place. It was possible to go forward. Jim was always a very good friend.”

Ede greatly admired Vellacott’s work, finding in it formal and spiritual qualities which reminded him of Indian and Chinese art. He acquired several of her drawings and encouraged the retrospective exhibition held in 1981 at Kettle’s Yard. Of Bare Trees and Hills he wrote: “This Elisabeth Vellacott was the first of her works which I acquired … It was a great joy to me to find an artist who could leave untouched a large area of paper and yet keep it full. Never in the drawing itself does her paper become empty, so subtly does she approach it with her pencil. No photograph could realise this.” The view is believed to be of an area near Llanthony, in Wales.

Provenence: purchased from the artist by H.S. Ede, c.1966

Drawing [EV 1]


Graphite on paper

369 x 384 mm

About the artist

Vellacott attended the Royal College of Art between 1925 and 1929. At the beginning of her career she worked as a textile and theatre designer. After the war she moved away from design to concentrate on drawing and painting. She was a founder member of the Cambridge Society of Painters and Sculptors in 1954. She exhibited regularly in London and held retrospective exhibitions at Kettle's Yard in 1981 and 1995.