University of Cambridge Museums

Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums

Circuit Curates: Grace and Speed

Since December I have been working with Circuit to curate an exhibition in Helen’s Bedroom at Kettle’s Yard. Run by Kettle’s Yard and Wysing Arts Centre, Circuit Cambridge is part of a four-year national programme connecting 15-25 year olds to the arts.

The group have already worked on a range of projects – organising events, putting on temporary shows and commissioning artists, but this was their first opportunity to work with Kettle’s Yard’s permanent collection. Their exhibition runs alongside New Rhythms: Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. Art, Dance and Movement 1911-1915, and is part of the final exhibition programme in the run up to the closure of the site for a major redevelopment project in June 2015.

The Circuit group explored aspects of Gaudier-Brzeska’s work, looking for an angle that would complement New Rhythms. They were particularly interested in the rapid developments in his style over the few years that he worked before his early death in the First World War, aged just 23 years old, and decided to focus on drawings that exemplified this.

This projects really giving us an opportunity to engage with the collections a bit more and take on some responsibility. It’s really exciting actually.

Gaudier-Brzeska was fascinated by sketching the world around him and often made hundreds of quick drawings a day of animals and people.  The group explored the works in Kettle’s Yard’s store, including rarely seen sketchbooks from the archive. The excitement of seeing these usually inaccessible drawings enhanced the group’s enthusiasm about the project, and fed into numerous in-depth discussions about the different influences on Gaudier-Brzeska’s work and his legacy for Kettle’s Yard. Knowing the exhibition would be on show in the house, the group were determined to produce something to the professional standard expected by visitors to Kettle’s Yard, while also working hard to ensure that their themes and interpretation were particularly accessible to a range of 15-25 year olds, a key aim of the Circuit project.

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Having been given a brief by the Programming Team at Kettle’s Yard, the group led on every aspect of the project. This included initial research, deciding on a theme and works, writing and designing interpretation, and organising an event to encourage a wider audience to engage with the exhibition. It was an opportunity for the young people to understand and gain experiences of all of the stages of putting an exhibition together, as well as for Kettle’s Yard to learn from the new ideas and enthusiasm the group brought to the project.

It’s a great opportunity to get involved in a variety of different aspects of curating.

Circuit Curates: Grace and Speed will be on display in Helen’s bedroom in Kettle’s Yard House until 21 June. An associated event, Circuit & Shindig present: Murmuration, involves a range of music, spoken word and dance performances inspired by Henri Gaudier Brzeska and the New Rhythms exhibition. The event takes place on 28 March from 8-10pm and is free to attend. Please book your place by emailing

If you would like any further details about Circuit please contact Circuit Programme Manager Tahira Fitzwilliam Hall by emailing or calling 01954 718 881.

Clare Karslake, Assistant Education Officer, Kettle’s Yard

Photos (C) Peter Harmer

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