‘I hope this book brings Jim a little to life, kind, devoted and flawed. What is china without its cracks? I hope, if you are not already, that you will become a Kettle’s Yard familiar. I hope that the next time you go to Kettle’s Yard you will bring a friend. I hope that when you stand on the doorstep, before you ring the bell you will say to them: “Just wait.”’
Laura Freeman, chief art critic at The Times has produced this first biography of the Kettle’s Yard artists revealing the life of Jim Ede, a visionary who helped shape twentieth-century British art.
The lives of Jim Ede and the Kettle’s Yard artists represent a thrilling tipping point in twentieth-century modernism: a new guard, a new way of making and seeing, and a new way of living with art. The artists Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Alfred Wallis and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska were not a set like the Bloomsbury Set or Ravilious and his friends. But Jim Ede recognised in each of the artists he championed something common and kindred, some quality of light and life and line. Jim Ede is the figure who unites them. His vision continues to influence the way we understand art and modern living. He was a man of extraordinary energies: a collector, dealer, fixer, critic and, above all, friend to artists.
For Ede, works of art were friends and art could be found wherever you looked – in a pebble, feather or seedhead. Art lived and a life without art, beauty, friendship and creativity was a life not worth living. Art was not for galleries alone and it certainly wasn’t only for the rich. At Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge, he opened his home and his collection to all comers. He showed generations of visitors that learning to look could be a whole new way of life.
In this captivating, lively and deeply researched biography, Laura Freeman sheds new light on the rare beauty and character of JIm Ede and his greatest creation, Kettle’s Yard.
‘The beautiful, revelatory biography of Jim Ede and Kettle’s Yard that we have been waiting for. I loved it.’ Edmund de Waal
‘Freeman’s attention falls on each particular of Ede’s life and turns it over like a polished pebble in a jacket pocket. Along with his gallery, this book is the legacy he might have wished for.’ Observer
‘A triumph . . . its exactly the right tone of thoughtful, critical affection . . . the witty sentences are fine things, illuminating and illumined, conveying the way light is bounced around Kettle’s Yard as it shines from candlesticks and picture frames.’ Prospect
‘Freeman has done a wonderful job here in conveying with absolute precision why Ede mattered and what made him different from his Bloomsbury contemporaries.’ Sunday Times
‘Meticulously researched, sympathetically told, the book is infused with the spirit of Kettle’s Yard.’ i
‘Laura Freeman has more than done her subject justice. It is a complicated story, lucidly told and neatly illustrated.’ Spectator
One of the most charming and illuminating memoirs I know is also the largest. A Way of Life: Kettle’s Yard by Jim Ede, published by Cambridge University Press in 1984, is almost a foot square and...Read more
The Pram in the Hall
I lent my copy of Barbara Hepworth’s A Pictorial Autobiography to an illustrator friend who, for reasons of distance and diaries, I rarely see. We had been talking about children and creativity and...Read more