Led by CVC Visiting Research Fellow, Anna Reid, join researchers from across Cambridge to explore vegetal life in the Kettle’s Yard collections. Using traditional research methods and embodied research practices, you will discover the collection through cutting edge research and potting a cutting from the House to take home.

Plants favoured in the modernist vision tend to be of a structural, robust and hardy character. Modernist architects and artists valued plants capable of living in astringent architectural contexts and with minimal cultivation, where white flowers would complement the whiteness of concrete. In the British context, modernist plants are recurrently referenced as plants with personality. The Kettles Yard collection carries this modernist aesthetic in its groupings of striking succulents, cacti and exotics and in its abstract painted representations of reeds, grasses and gardens. Yet in Ede’s home, where objects of many kinds are placed in dynamic inter-relations and surrealist incursions are at play, the anthropocentrism of the modernist plants with personality, gives way to a more poetic, vitalist sensibility. Thinking afresh through vegetal life at Kettles Yard, its processes and potencies and its unconscious or repressed aspects, this experimental workshop will draw on new work in critical plant studies and the plant humanities. It aims to contribute to the development of ‘post-humanist’ considerations of Kettles Yard as a site for imaginative interaction with not only the vegetal, but the lithic, animal, geological and cosmological.

Suggested Reading

– Sria Chatterjee ‘Political Plants: Art, Design and Plant Sentience’ Cultural Politics, Vol 19, 1, 2023 pp. 87-106.
– Catriona Sandilands ‘Plants’ in the Cambridge Companion to Environmental Humanities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021) pp. 156-169.
– Matthew Hall Plants as Persons: A Philosophical Botany (SUNY Press, 2011).


This event is part of the CVC Masterclass series. It is open to University of Cambridge students only.

To register for this class, please send an email to by Monday 13 May with a short statement on the benefits of participation in this masterclass to your studies.


Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, L’agave, 1913. Photo: © Kettle’s Yard