Ruthie Collins, founder of Cambridge Art Salon, gives her arty picks of the month
It may be nearly September, but it’s not too late to indulge in the last of the summer shows in the city. Those fascinated by the animal world will love Evolution as Inspiration at the Museum of Zoology, opened by David Attenborough earlier this summer, which features works by one of the world’s leading naturalists, Jonathan Kingdon.
The exhibition, developed in partnership with Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), runs until 15 September and is a bright, bold insight into what Attenborough describes as the ‘profound questions’ of how animals work.
“Artists play a crucial role in exploring, understanding and communicating the conservation of nature,” commented CCI’s John Fanshawe, co-curator of the show. “CCI’s cross-cutting arts, science and conservation programme works with a growing range of artists through exhibitions, events and residencies to celebrate our cultural connections and interdependencies on biodiversity.”
The Museum of Zoology is a creative hub of inspiration when it comes to accessing conservation in the city, and is also one of the most family-friendly museums in Cambridge: perfect to take children to, with plenty of resources and well-trained guides to keep them informed and entertained.
You can also still catch Jennifer Lee: the potter’s space at Kettle’s Yard this month (above), which runs until 22 September. It’s the first solo exhibition of the renowned ceramicist’s work in a UK public gallery since 1994, and it shows 40 works spanning her entire career, as well as new pieces made for the exhibition at Kettle’s Yard. You can also see a selection of objects chosen by Jennifer Lee at the Fitzwilliam Museum to accompany this show – also until the 22nd. Jennifer Lee won the LOEWE Craft Prize in 2018 and was described by Edmund de Waal as “the embodiment of place, complex and intriguing”. So, if you’ve never considered the way a humble pot can impact the space around it – go visit.
The Museum of Zoology is one of the most family-friendly museums in Cambridge
Also this month at the house at Kettle’s Yard is a final chance to catch Geometria, a new body of work by Ann-Marie James, made in response to Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture, Group of Three Magical Stones (1973). Hepworth’s own sculpture is hauntingly beautiful, with James’ work a metamorphic response that includes paintings, prints and a quilt, a fascinating artistic interpretation of works lifted from art history.
There are plenty of new exhibitions opening this month, too. Notably, on 9 September at New Hall Art Collection, what looks like a fascinating offering from photographer Anne-Katrin Purkiss entitled Creative Connections: Portraits of Women Scientists and Artists. Women in science have been photographed and invited to nominate an artwork from the collection, to help explore the connectivity between art and science. Purkiss herself has work in the National Portrait Gallery, and her photography has appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times and Nature – she looks set to highlight a fascinating interplay between gender, science and art in this show.
Finally, STRAY – a collective of Cambridge-based artists whose aim it is to create work that transcends the predictable and ‘strays away’ from safe but staid Cambridge boundaries – open their latest show on 13 September in Norwich’s Undercroft art space. Cambridge’s favourite artists have work in the show, including Deanna Tyson, Sue Law, Rosemary Catling and Judy Logan, joined by guests such as Susie Olczak and Cheryl Warren.
Highlights include a kimono catwalk show on 21 September from textile artist Deanna Tyson, whose use of textiles as punchy political commentary is often bold, outspoken and bitingly incisive – what she calls “Kimono With Attitude.” “Many of my kimono are created from a feeling of anger or even despair. I feel a kimono coming on when something bothers me,” Tyson explains.
“I paint, stitch and appliqué my narratives, exploiting the movement and freedom that this 3D form allows, whilst layering the kimono as a storyteller layers themes or a painter, paint. My work always begins with the concept, and I ruminate, sometimes for weeks, sometimes months, sometimes even for years, until I can see in my mind’s eye a way forward.”
“The range of work planned is both dynamic and fully engaging”, says guest curator of the show, Sue Law. “Artists featured include specialists in sculpture, textile art, painting and public interactive artworks – it really will be visually spectacular and lots of fun.”