Pearls of Wisdom Social Club – SUBJECT, Anthony Gormley, Kettle’s Yard

EDGE - Cambridge Art Salon

‘A lot of the work is to do with wanting to find a balanced relationship between what you could call the vicissitudes of the changing nature of our moods and our motivations – the “What am I doing?” “Am in charge?” “Is this my life?”

Anthony Gormley is talking to us about his current solo show at Kettle’s Yard, SUBJECT, the focus of our next Pearls of Wisdom Social Club. Running until the 27th August, the exhibition explores our relationship to space and our sense of self, plus asks who and what art is for.

‘Sculpture’, he says, ‘once you bolt it to the wall, can give you a little place, a little ledge, that is solid, where you can register your changing moods about everything. Having a place that is connected, but separate. Like this space, the gallery. Sculpture is like that, galleries are like that. A place apart.’

‘It’s like a meteorite in human form, he says, of EDGE, an iron sculpture which really caught our eye, which you can see in Gallery 2. ‘Iron is very dense. Its magnetic field is what allows us to spin. It’s a concentrated earth material – it has a fundamental relationship with the body that our bodies depend upon, which is the planet.’


EDGE was a hit at the Pearls of Wisdom Social Club itself, with visitors from Cambridge Manor Care Home and the fabulous Turtle Dove team, all exploring reactions to works and the exhibition. After a quick talk from Karen Thomas, we headed into the galleries to enjoy the show – and explore how the works made us feel. ‘It makes me want to swing from it like a monkey!’ said, Kate, of Turtle Dove.


Infinite Cube II, on show in the UK for the first time, made of a one-way mirror glass and 1000 LED lights, was very popular. ‘It’s like every time you look at it, there’s so much going on in such a confined space, says Fran. ‘It’s dazzling’, Margaret from Cambridge Manor tells us. ‘I liked the lights, they made me think of the Northern Lights’. Gormley himself advises peering up at it from the floor, where the view is apparently ‘endless’!

Afterwards, we enjoyed a nice cuppa back in the Learning Studio and met up with artist Jo Miller, experimenting with clay, to play with our own sense of space and proportion – with some fabulous results.

We shared what art is for and celebrated our own voices, on this sometimes mysterious subject. How walking around the show, it’s you, your perceptions, that bring it to life.

Interview with Anthony Gormley, Fran Smith and Ruthie Collins. Photos – Fran Smith.

Pearls of Wisdom Social Club returns to Kettle’s Yard in September.

Pearls of Wisdom Social Club

This is the last week of Actions. The image of the world can be different (part II) which closes on May 7th, featuring works such as Caroline Walker’s solo project of portraits of women refugees in London, ‘Home’.

So for our last Pearls of Wisdom Social Club we explored ideas of ‘home’, with Turtle Dove and Manor Care Home hearing a fascinating talk from Kettle’s Yard archivist Freda Midgley on the curated homes of Jim and Helen Ede. We also watched a short clip from documentary by Cary Parker, ‘The Secret of Kettle’s Yard’, before visiting the Kettle’s Yard House itself, looking for objects with stories.

The documentary touched on how with the secrets held in the house, you can learn more about through asking the staff there – there’s a real oral tradition of anecdotes connected to the pieces, passed down through over the years. Like this piece, we discovered was made by Jim Ede’s granddaughter, which you can find behind in the bathroom of the house.

Andrew and Audrey from Manor care home absolutely loved their visit to the house.

We finished off with tea and cake with Turtle Dove and making home inspired ‘pearls’,  asking what makes a home? Home is made by ‘the people’ in it. The smell of freshly made coffee and warm bread. A nice cup of tea. Somewhere that’s been worn in, a place that feels like it has character without anyone there…

This week, our new photographer for Pearls of Wisdom Social Club and myself also popped in to see Caroline Walker’s ‘Home’, project.

We loved reading the interviews with the women and learning more about their stories which really bring the paintings to life. The stories can be found in plenty of easy to read folders, in Gallery 2.

We also caught John Akomfrah’s award winning film ‘Auto Da Fé’ (‘Act of Faith’), capturing the re-enacted journeys of asylum seekers from throughout history – from multiple faiths.

‘It makes you realise how lucky you are, how much you have’.

Actions. the image of the world can be different (part II) runs until May 7th. You can see the next show at Kettle’s Yard, Antony Gormley’s ‘SUBJECT’, as part of Pearls of Wisdom Social Club on Tuesday May 29th, 2pm-3.30pm.

Our home inspired ‘pearls’ are being turned into bunting that will decorate our pop up Art Salon Cafe in the Arts Area of Strawberry Fair, on June 2nd.

Words and images: @RuthieCollins @CambArtSalon

Pearls of Wisdom Social Club

For the next Pearls of Wisdom Social Club at Kettle’s Yard, Manor Care Home and new visitor to the club Dom Mulvey explored the cross-over between writing and art, looking at Idris Khan’s ‘Letters’ (2018), in Actions. the image of the world can be different (part 1) as a starting point. The piece is one of 9 pieces by different artists, was created especially for the reopening of Kettle’s Yard. It features stamped extracts from Gabo’s 1944 letter which inspired the title of the show, and Herbert Read’s reply.

The mix between art and writing is fascinating. Roland Barthe, as many students of English Literature may well know – one of Idris Khan’s influences, deconstructs the way words are signs, made up of both image and meaning. I talked through some of the ways I’ve used text as a writer, in art installations and mixed media pieces, plus exhibiting interviews with artists such as Yoko Ono, plus inspirational women in the community as ‘visual writing’.

It’s easy to make your own mixed media works using magazines or newspapers – go for colours or images that catch your eye, or pull out key phrases or words that make you think. Let yourself be guided by a sense of surprise, critique, newness and beauty. We looked at using magazines, glitter, glue, text and images to create mixed media ‘pearls’, to join our interactive art pearl that we used during our last Pearls of Wisdom Postcards project.

Dom loved his mixed media piece, which raises all sorts of questions about what what it means to be a man. ‘I loved the whole club, it was really interesting’, he said, afterwards.

Cambridge Manor had a great time making mixed media pearls, too, layering their own ‘pearls of wisdom’ with mixed media, text, images and words.







Words: Ruthie Collins, Images: Karen Thomas

Pearls of Wisdom Social Club

‘To be that active, that active imaginative, that creative, at such a, shall we say, a pretty old age, is absolutely marvellous,’

Ellen-Grace Halsall is talking about artist Naum Gabo, at our first of our Pearls of Wisdom Social Club at Kettle’s Yard. We absolutely agree. This is our new community collaboration between the Art Salon and Kettle’s Yard Open House that brings old and young together through art, at this monthly social club for ages 0-100!

It’s the fourth Pearls of Wisdom project we’ve run, so it is a pleasure to welcome back Turtle Dove, who helped us with our first ever Pearls of Wisdom Tea Dance, at Ditchburn Place in 2015 as part of the BBC Get Creative Family Arts Festival – and will be joining the club every month. For our first session, we also had the Cambridge lead for Mothers Who Make, a national network for mother artists, Vanessa Ackerman, who dropped in with her son, too, plus another artist Belgin Bodur, and her daughter. We welcome care home Cambridge Manor, who are also regulars at the club, plus Cambridge City Council’s Broadening Horizons group.

Community Officer Karen Thomas, gave a spotlight talk on five works in particular – by Mary Kelly, Naum Gabo, Melanie Manchot, Rana Begum and Nathan Coley, included in the current show at Kettle’s Yard, Actions. The image of the world can be different.  We all popped round to have a look at the works for ourselves, before gathering back to chat about the show over tea and coffee served by Turtle Dove.

Rana Begum’s stunning installation No. 764 Baskets, was a favourite (despite it being a dust trap). ‘I like the baskets. I love the round baskets not all in a uniform position. They reminded me of shells,’ said artist Ros Rolandson from Broader City Horizons, who described it as a ‘masterpiece’. ‘I think it’s charming but a rather large dust collector. I like the different weaving of the baskets and the different colours of the weave,’ she added.

Melanie Manchot’s portraits of Bangladeshi women living in Cambridge, taken in places in the city they’d never been to before, were also very popular. ‘Wonderful, so smooth, so lovely,’ said Margaret, from Cambridge Manor, talking on some of textures, the fabric and the wood, captured in her portraits The Ladies (Wren Library) and The Ladies (King’s Dining Hall). ‘These are my favourite. The mixture of progress and history really resonates with me,’ commented James, Cambridge Manor’s Community Development Manager. However, the contrasts explored in the works didn’t always feel comfortable: ‘the colours are so bright, they contrast well, but so do the women with the location – you can tell they are unfamiliar with the space by looking at their body language,’ felt Belgin.

‘Is it a statement, or a comment on how we all end, being situated in a graveyard?’ asked Karen Thomas, while talking on Nathan Coley’s The Same for Everyone– which greets you as soon as you arrive at Kettle’s Yard. ‘To me it says we are all the same, we are all equal, in death whether we are rich or poor, clever, educated or illiterate. We will all end up the same way,’ thought Barbara, from Broader City Horizons. Not everyone was keen. ‘I’m not so keen on the message outside the church, I don’t believe that everything should be the same for everyone,’ thought Celia, from Broader City Horizons. ‘It sounds a bit communistic.’

Mary Kelly’s Love Songs: Flashing Nipple Remix, caused lively debate and discussion on the position of women today. ‘I didn’t like this piece. It seemed to me that they were being discriminated against because they were women.’ Barbara told us. ‘Eventually they became rubbed out.’ Turtle Dove’s young women had a lot of thoughts on the piece, too. ‘A lot of young women are pushed into those pageant competitions. Kids. Like with prostitution, sometimes people see it as they only way out – but it’s the wrong way. It’s not good,’ they said.

Naum Gabo’s Linear Construction in Space No. 1, and Linear Construction in Space No. 2 were very popular with Celia, as well as Ellen, from Broader City Horizons. ‘The piece of work I like the most was the linear construction, I liked that very much,’ said Celia. ‘And of course, to have the eye sight at that age to do that very fine work’, admired Ellen – very impressive indeed.

Plus, Robin at Cambridge Manor, provoked some controversy by asking if the shelves in the Learning Studio were part of the exhibition, describing them as ‘utilitarian’.

We finished up making our own actions to make the world a better place!

Pearls of Wisdom Social Club runs on the last Tuesday of every month, 2pm – 3.30pm – email or to attend, groups, families or individuals, welcome.

Special thanks for support from charity Care Network Cambridgeshire for helping us spread the word on the Pearls of Wisdom Social Club.

Words: @RuthieCollins Images: Karen Thomas and Victor Ibanez.


Children at The Grove Primary School Win High Sheriff Award for Pearls of Wisdom Postcards

Pearls of WisdomOver fifty eight and nine year old children at The Grove Primary School have won the High Sheriff Award, as administered by Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, for participating in a project that aims to bring together old and young residents in the city through art run by Care Network Cambridge and Cambridge Art Salon.

As part of Pearls of Wisdom Postcards, elderly residents in Cambridge from Cambridge Manor Carehome and St Martins Day Centre generously contributed their own pearls of wisdom, to children at The Grove Primary School – little nuggets of wisdom, for the younger generation, such as ‘Don’t Waste Time’, ‘Save For A Rainy Day’, or ‘Kindness Costs Nothing’. The school children then created artworks in response to the pearls, with help from artists at Cambridge Art Salon, for an exhibition and pack of postcards that the public can see and buy at Stir Cafe, throughout from December 1stuntil January 11th.

100 packs of cards of 8 of the children’s designs are available for sale for £2 each at the popular CB4 based Stir cafe – with a #pearlchallenge to send postcards to family members and loved ones, to celebrate family and friendship. Participants are invited to buy postcards and post on social media their messages to friends and family, as part of the challenge.

Participating artists based at North Cambridge art space Thrifts Walk Studios and East Cambridge’s UNIT 13, include Sa’adiah Khan, Daisy Tempest, Sukey Sleeper and Cathy Dunbar. The project was produced by writer Ruthie Collins who interviewed older residents for their pearls, with help from Cambridge Art Salon volunteer Victor Ibanez, Care Network Cambs and staff at Manor Care Home and St Martins Day Centre.

Interview – Glyn Bateman, ‘Consumirrorism’

What inspired the name of the show?
I have always been interested in consumerism and have often tinkered about with words and their phonetic sounds when I have titled work – The words have to lend themselves to the art piece and what it is engaging with. The show presents a selection of works that reflect upon the state of the world at the time of the global economic downturn of 2008. Some of my pieces use mirrors explicitly for this reason as part of the visual language and I thought it would be fitting to use an ‘it-does-what-it-says-on-the-tin’ approach towards the name of the show.

Who or what are your influences?
I am heavily influenced by pre modern artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel and love the works of Dadaist and Surrealist Max Ernst – I love collage and am fascinated with some of the mark making techniques such as ‘decalcomania’ that Ernst and Salvador Dali employed in their work to tap into the subconscious to evoke ‘phantom images’ in the onlookers mind.

What is the role of the artist in times of austerity?
For me, it’s to encourage critical thinking about our existence and the experience of living within the creative and destructive cycles of late capitalism where everything has been commoditised – including art itself.

Who excites you right now?
Aidan Salakhova – her quasi-religious paintings and sculptures are sublime. Also, Ashley Bickerton’s composite photo/painting parodies greatly inspire me as do the exquisitely detailed screen prints of Dan Hillier that are currently being displayed at the Saatchi Gallery.

Hope for 2017?
For world peace and prosperity to all! I am also excited to continue with the work that I have been developing and photo-harvesting for the last few years, it’s called ‘No Horoscope’. It’s now in the preparatory stages where I have lots of labour intensive, digital cutting and editing of photographs to get through. The works are going to be large scale allegorical compositions engaging with themes concerning the human condition and technology.


CONSUMIRRORISM – Reflections on Recession #consumirrorism

Glyn Bateman
CONSUMIRRORISM – Reflections on Recession 
16.12.16 – 19.12.16

Friday 16th December 6 – 9pm
Saturday 17th – Monday 19th December 10am – 5pm
(Limited Private viewings from 20th December)

CONSUMIRRORISM presents a selection of works that were developed during the time of the global economic downturn of 2008 – a shift from the consumer empowering, excessive commodity culture of capitalist boom time to the mirror opposite starkness of gloomy financial uncertainty, diminished consumer confidence and tightened up purse strings. In 2016, how much has changed? The works on display reflect upon the state of our world, providing commentary upon the autonomous rich, the suffering many and questions how art will fare in times of austerity.


SPAN Artist Collective

SPAN Artist Collective: Sophie C Hill, Guiseppina Santoro-Ellwood, Adriana Forte, Neil Horsefield

2 December 2016 – 11 December 2016
Cambridge Art Salon, 1 Thrift Walk, Cambridge, CB2

Showcasing paintings, drawings, ceramics, sculpture and video by four artists working individually and then coming together to respond to each others’ work with in the gallery.

The show brings together individual work from the four artists and provides an opportunity for them to interact and respond live to the exhibited work. The artists will experiment in the space to create visual reactions to each others work in an effort to exchange ideas, deepen understanding and further possible meaning and interpretations. This will create a dynamic and changing show which the audience can enter; their own experience will depend on the daily activity, with both the art and artists on show. You will see videos, paintings, installations and photographs from four different perspectives that will encourage you to think and question the ideas and artists. You will be simultaneously in a gallery and a studio.

Sophie C Hill works with a range of materials to produce paintings and installations that ask questions about her experience as a mother and artist. Visually eclectic and playful her work should make you smile while you think.

Pina Santoro creates works using varied materials such as ceramics, plaster and paint to found objects. Her practice is concerned with culture, identity, traditions and place and displacement aiming to capture the confusion, frustration and stress of her UK born Immigrant experiences.

Adriana Forte is a conceptual artist who explores difficult and often unspoken issues around mental health and identity. She creates through a process of immersion in research; an idea is born from extensive reading and the work develops through trial and error. Language forms an important part of her work although its usage can be quite discrete.

Neil Horsefield has an easel based studio practice which uses visual language conventions associated with painting, drawing and printmaking. His work raises a reconsideration of authorship, ownership, creative territory, value, permanence and transition and narrative.

digital image from Fun Palace workshop, SPAN, 2016

digital image from Fun Palace workshop, SPAN, 2016

The Pear Tree and other poems


Beating the Bounds – New works by Gudrun Filipska

1 Thrifts Walk. Cambridge.

21st October -4th November 2016 (Family friendly Private View 5.30-8.30pm Fri Nov 21st).


An exhibition of work from the first stages of an ‘Artists Residency in Motherhood’, as mentored by British American artist Lenka Clayton. Filipska takes the experience of motherhood as a raw material, using as departure point her long standing interest in walking as artistic practice and fugal subjectivity and how this is altered by the presence of children. The show includes work documenting her daughters obsession with wrapping and enveloping found and foraged objects, the first part of a photographic project documenting daily walks, a video work reflecting the tedium and staccato rhythms of a walking pace set by children and a series of drawings referencing historical landscape painting.

This exhibition forms the first part of the Beating the Bounds project which will take place during the two year residency and further develop ideas of territory, boundaries, transience and motherhood. It’s also part of the BBC get Creative Family Arts Festival, happening throughout October – and Cambridge Art Salon’s We Are Family programme

Accompanying text, ‘Against the Odds: Creative Survival Throughout Parenthood’ by writer/curator Ruthie Collins will also be available at the exhibition, partnered with national campaign body Family Arts Campaign. Advice, personal experiences and strategies shared by parent artists have been turned into a poster style text, the first of a new ongoing series of #mamainart (MIA) pieces @ruthiecollins

Free Family Arts Activity! ‘The Alternatives’ – Jo Randall, as part of World Rivers Day.

416925_10150714652811488_726801487_11840502_1341552218_nFamilies live in all different types of home – boats, caravans, houses. Create a picture of your home – or your imaginary home! What would your dream home look like? Imagine living on a boat, or in a caravan, yurt or bender (a home made out of canvas and tree branches) – what might your home look like?

Whether you live in a boat, house or caravan – or dream of it, draw it, create it, paint it! Add some imagination, go wild.

Parents can join in too! All pictures to be shared as part of The Alternatives, Jo Randall, at Cambridge Art Salon – 1 Thrifts Walk, Cambridge CB4 1NR.

Or post your pictures online with hashtag #thealternatives16


What was the inspiration behind the show?
I’ve been a renter in the Cambridge area for the last 12 years. I often get asked ‘have you ever thought of buying your own home?’. If only it were as simple as that! My last module at uni was on the subject of Zeitgeist (which translates to the essence of the times in which we live) and I decided to investigate the housing crisis in Cambridge as I felt it was personal to me and very much a hot topic at the moment.

How did you find your subjects?
My friends have always been very supportive so when looking for subjects, I used social media to ask if any of my friends, or friends of theirs, lived in anything other than a traditional house and if they would be prepared to talk with me, with a view to becoming case studies. I was also introduced to the Cams Boaters facebook group which is run by the inhabitants of the house boats on the Cam. I received a huge amount of interest and support to my request, which was fantastic.

What are your influences as a photographer?
Tom Hunter is a big influence for this project. His series ‘Travellers’ documents the lives of the people he encountered whilst travelling in a converted bus from Europe to Portugal in the 1990’s. They’re shot in colour, on a large format camera, and have a really serene feel to them, capturing the humanity and the dignity of his friends. I’m aware that black and white can often be quite gritty and harsh, but I’ve tried to capture the same feeling of contentment and pride in my own images.

The whole show is shot in black and white – was there a rationale behind that?
I have only very recently discovered the beauty of traditional film. Shooting this series in black and white allowed me to further develop my darkroom printing skills. There’s something very tactile about creating your own photographs, from developing the film yourself through to making the prints in wet trays. For me, it completes the artistic process and really feels like they’re my personal creations. Each photograph you create is unique and many of the images in the exhibition were a culmination of many hours of experimentation to achieve my final results.

What have you learned or are hoping to share with the community through this show?
There is rarely a simple answer as to why we choose to live the way we do. There are many contributing factors such as location, finances, environmental impact and lifestyle, and it’s very easy to judge others without trying to understand their choices. The average income in Cambridge is in the region of £28k, with house prices currently at an average of £420k. Home ownerships is no longer an expectation or a right and we need to become more creative, to explore other avenues and find our own solutions to the current housing crisis outside of society’s norms.

From Syria With Love

From Syria With LoveWe were very proud to host From Syria With Love in April, please would all who bought pieces at The Guildhall contact us (see who below) to arrange an appointment if you haven’t already visited.


Phone or text Victor on 07734435238 to arrange an appointment to collect.

Getting here. We are right next to the Kids Classics children’s clothes shop, on Chesterton High St. Note that the number 2 bus stops just round the corner, but there is no parking available on Thrifts Walk itself. Plenty on nearby streets though.

Thank you for your support.