RCA Painting Alumna Anthea Hamilton Reimagines Kettle’s Yard

New works by RCA alumna and Turner Prize nominee Anthea Hamilton (MA Painting, 2005) will be on display at The Hepworth Wakefield in an exhibition that reimagines the iconic Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge.

The exhibition features new works by Hamilton, made in response to Kettle’s Yard, alongside objects on loan from the collection. Hamilton has also displayed works by previous collaborators or artists whose work is important to her, including Robert Mapplethorpe, Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann, Nicholas Byrne and fellow RCA Painting alumnus Daniel Sinsel.

Hamilton creates multimedia sculptures and installations featuring prop-like objects that resemble theatrical stages or film sets. Her installations engage visitors with imagined narratives incorporating references from art, fashion, design and cinema. The exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield explores Hamilton’s interest in how our environment shapes the way we see objects and our understanding and experience of art – a fundamental preoccupation shared with Jim Ede, the founder of Kettle’s Yard.

The historic cottages at the heart of Kettle’s Yard, the University of Cambridge’s modern and contemporary art gallery, were once the home of Jim and Helen Ede. In the 1920s and '30s, Jim was a curator at Tate, and through friendships with artists he gathered an impressive collection of modern art including paintings by Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Alfred Wallis, Christopher Wood, David Jones and Joan Miro, as well as sculptures by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Constantin Brancusi, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. The collection remains displayed in the cottages as Jim intended, alongside furniture, glass, ceramics and natural objects. His careful choreography of the space aimed to produce a harmonic whole – with objects and artworks being transformed by people visiting and living amongst them.

‘Kettle’s Yard is a very special place, I find it graceful in every way,’ Hamilton explained. ‘It touches us personally with its attention to domestic detail, while being a comprehensive history of British Modernism, an education at every turn. Bringing these selected objects to the galleries of The Hepworth Wakefield is the most incredible of invitations.’

While Kettle’s Yard is closed for a major development project, objects are being loaned to regional galleries. Earlier this year a selection from the collection was on display at The Hepworth Wakefield, and Hamilton’s exhibition provides a further reimagining and reinterpretation.

Based on research into the art and objects of the Kettle’s Yard Collection, Hamilton has re-appropriated objects, using unexpected details as starting points for new works. A painting by Christopher Wood has inspired a new ‘Kimono’ piece, the most recent in a series of kimonos Hamilton has created. Hamilton has also made works with a suggestive practical function such as a cabinet to display objects from Kettle’s Yard. As part of the installation the grand piano from Kettle’s Yard has been brought into the gallery and a monthly programme of live performances will activate the installation, mirroring the tradition of regular concerts in the house at Kettle’s Yard.

In addition to Hamilton's show at The Hepworth Wakefield, there are two further opportunities to see her work this autumn. On 27 September the Turner Prize exhibition opens at Tate Britain. Hamilton was nominated for her solo exhibition Anthea Hamilton: Lichen! Libido! Chastity! at SculptureCenter, New York, which explored cultural appropriation and pop culture, considering the crossover into the mainstream of countercultures in music, fashion, and design. Hamilton joins a list of prestigious RCA alumni to have been nominated for the prize, including Richard Deacon, Chris Ofili, Tracey Emin, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Dexter Dalwood, George Shaw, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, and the design studio Assemble, who won in 2015. 

Hamilton’s work will also be on display in Southampton, from 9 October as part of British Art Show 8, an exhibition organised by Hayward Touring. The British Art Show is presented every five years and this year features artists whose practice investigates the materiality, meaning and manifestations of objects in our current seemingly dematerialised reality. Hamilton’s work will be exhibited alongside fellow RCA alumni Daniel Sinsel, Nicolas Deshayes, Jesse Wine and Andrea Büttner. Southampton is the final city of the exhibition's tour, which has already travelled to Leeds, Edinburgh and Norwich, providing an overview of the most exciting contemporary art produced in the UK. 


Anthea Hamilton Reimagines Kettle's Yard is open from 17 September – March 2017 at The Hepworth Wakefield

The Turner Prize 2016 is open from 27 September 2016 – 2 January 2017 at Tate Britain

British Art Show 8 is open from 9 October – 14 January 2017 at John Hansard Gallery and Southampton City Art Gallery