The modernist collections at Kettle’s Yard are home to a range of prized ‘natural’ objects: stones, bones and plants among them. Jim Ede’s use of these objects, which runs somewhat counter to the abstractions of other works in the collection, is evocative of a broad cosmological, geological and also ecological landscape. It also recalls the interplay between the surrealist and the modernist as it played out in the British context in the interwar years, for example in the work of Paul Nash, whose influence is evident in objects such as ‘St Edmund’ (a piece of charred willow driftwood) or Ede’s uncanny placing of a billiard ball as if a spherical pebble. This fluidity, between landscape and imagination, which has elsewhere been considered retrograde, is bestowed with new relevance in the present ecological context and specifically in the Anthropocene as a new geological epoch where the interplay of the reflexivity and embodiment of the human imagination are brought to the fore. This talk reads the coupling of modernist and surrealist modes at Kettle’s Yard as a rich resource for eco critical thinking. To start to explore how, it will think via the work of Lucy Skaer, an artist who formed a relationship with Kettle’s Yard as a child and which she refers to as ‘a garden of forms’.

This event will be followed by a wine reception; the galleries at Kettle’s Yard will be open, giving audience members an opportunity to view the current exhibition out-of-hours.


Anna Reid is a historian of art and a curator. Her research readdresses modern and contemporary British histories – in their global contexts – with a focus on the interwar period and on contexts of new geological and physiological knowledge.


George Kennethson, Garden at Kettle’s Yard, undated. © The Estate of George Kennethson. Photo: Kettle’s Yard.