Between 1957 and 1973 Kettle’s Yard was the home of Jim and Helen Ede. Jim had worked at the Tate Gallery in London, and supported his artist friends including Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood and David Jones by purchasing works early in their careers. Jim carefully positioned these artworks alongside furniture, glass, ceramics and natural objects in his home, with the aim of creating a harmonic whole.
The project took place through four sessions, and the school also adjusted the order of the curriculum topics so that the project was fully integrated. The term topic was rivers, so a nautical theme was developed, which capitalised on the character of the Kettle’s Yard collection.
The pupils’ visits to the gallery explored maritime themes found across the collection and they were encouraged to think about how individual objects ‘make conversation’ with each other. Pupils acted as guides to family relatives and explored how Jim and Helen Ede developed their collection, and how Jim loaned artworks to students. With the support of teachers and parents, they wrote letters to Jim and Helen explaining which objects they might like to borrow from the house and what they would loan in their place.
The workshops also included origami boats filled with ideas and stories inspired by the works at Kettle’s Yard, and messages in bottles written by ‘shipwrecked’ pupils.
A temporary exhibition of work by Ian Hamilton-Finlay was on display at the Gallery and this was used as additional stimulation. Pupils thought about the visual impact of the written word and created their own sea and sky of words.