Ruthie Collins gives you the lowdown on arty happenings around Cambridge in June
The making of a whole person and the creation of true individuals can only happen by singing and dancing and making art,” says one of the world’s most renowned artists, Antony Gormley, whose new show, SUBJECT, opened at Kettle’s Yard in May. The entire endeavour is more site-specific installation than traditional museum exhibition, transforming the place into a space for reflection. While at SUBJECT, watch out for Infinite Cube II, shown in the UK for the first time. Conjured by Gormley, this mesmerising piece was inspired by the vision of Gabriel Mitchell, son of Gormley’s friend Professor W J Thomas Mitchell.
A national treasure, known throughout the UK for works such as Angel of the North, Norfolk-based Gormley won the Turner Prize in 1994 for sculptural installation, Testing A World View. You can see his sculpture in situ throughout Cambridge – from the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences on Downing Street to the gardens of Jesus College: this is the perfect time of year to enjoy it. “Both in the demands that it makes of the viewer and in the way that this exhibition uses the spaces of the gallery, the show begs the question as to where the subject of art can be found – I am proposing that it is rooted most powerfully in the imaginative engagement and ultimately the memory of the viewer. The wager of this show is that ‘subject’ has transferred from object to experience,” says Gormley himself.
“A national treasure, known throughout the UK"
Imaginative engagement is also why we all love Strawberry Fair so much, one of the UK’s biggest free festivals which you can enjoy on Midsummer Common on 2 June. Come along to the arts area of Strawberry Fair, coined Eastern Bloco. A loose collection of artist-activists, it brings together nine artists in tents, as part of an artist ‘tent city’ this year. As well as the Wild Strawberries Festival Stage, works will be on show from Long Road Sixth Form College’s media students, plus there’ll be stand-up comedy from Colin Stewart on the NHS, a free shop, collaborative art and plenty of making workshops. We will be there with our pop-up Art Salon café, where you can drink mocktails, have a paddle in our eco-glitter colour pool, be colour-bombed, enjoy a kids’ disco, feel inspired by heart-warming bunting made by young and old in the community as part of our Pearls of Wisdom Social Club at Kettle’s Yard, or play your long abandoned cassette tapes on our ghetto blaster – all proceeds support our grassroots work in the arts in Cambridge. Or why not chill out with a strawberry tea on a straw bale, while watching Soap Box Science take the mic, opposite us? A fab initiative increasing visibility of women in science at festivals this summer.
The summer is time to slow down in between dodging bustling crowds. So take The Independent’s advice: “You cannot rush Julia Ball’s painting. It slows you up and calms you down.” Make the most of this unmissable chance to enjoy her work at Espresso Library on East Road: Seven Paintings By Julia Ball, curated by Loukas Morley, runs until 10 June, a treat indeed. Go for (apart from the food and coffee) her impressive iridescent abstracts, that often take inspiration from East Anglian light – a joy. Ball has paintings in the permanent collections of New Hall art collection and Kettle’s Yard.
Another one for the diary this month is the opportunity to see Maureen Mace’s iconic ‘Tree of Discovery’ painting (above), which appears alongside others by this fabulous Cambridge painter, as part of a new exhibition, Along Your Street, running until 1 July at Byard Art on King’s Parade. Mace’s surreal, vibrant works have long been favourites in Cambridge and this piece is rich with that shimmering beauty found in learning and curiosity.
Finally, artists seeking space to show work will be over the moon to learn that Makers Gallery, co-founded by artist Neil Christie, has recently relaunched, with new owner Felicity Topp breathing a new lease of life into this much-loved framers and gallery at Hope Street Yard. As well as continuing the framing service, she is taking proposals for exhibitions at the space. A gorgeous gallery, with excellent light and just off Mill Road, it’s a fantastic location for shows. The Yard itself is a treasure tucked away in the heart of Romsey town, home to an offbeat range of independents, studios and a well-kept garden. Go there to browse, pick up a bargain, or see street art by Mr Penfold and LittleBiggs. Literary geeks will also love that Hope Street Yard is featured in a crime novel by Alison Bruce, Cambridge Black – the last in her DC Goodhew series!
Have a fantastic June, all!