Ruthie Collins gives you the lowdown on arty happenings around Cambridge in March
Louise Bourgeois, one of the world’s most acclaimed female artists, is currently exhibited at Kettle’s Yard until 24 March. The exhibition draws on Artist Rooms, a touring collection of over 1,600 works of modern and contemporary art by more than 40 major artists. Also exhibited alongside Bourgeois is a collection of Julie Mehretu’s drawings and monotypes; the artist’s first solo exhibition in a public gallery in the UK, it’s inspired by pressing issues, from race riots in the USA to the war in Syria.
Bourgeois died in 2010 aged 91 and was most known for her large-scale installations – and her iconic spiders, which first appeared in her work in 1947. The spider, as we all know, is one of the most feared species of the animal world, but its ancient symbolism has its roots in nothing to do with fear – and everything to do with creative power. Like artists, spiders ‘weave’ work. Just like Louise Bourgeois’ mother did; she was a tapestry restorer who died when Louise was 21. “I shall never tire of representing her,” she wrote about her mother in Ode – a poem published a year after her sculpture, Spider, was made. “I want to eat, sleep, argue, hurt, destroy/Why do you?/My reasons being exclusively to me/The treatment of fear.”
So what better treat than this show plus a coffee in the gorgeous Garden Kitchen at Kettle’s Yard? “My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama,” Bourgeois once said. “All of my work of the last 50 years, all my subjects, have found their inspiration in my childhood.”
On 9 March, for International Women’s Day, there is a day of talks, workshops and pop-up performances planned at Kettle’s Yard, too – all fabulous. Check the full programme on the website.
“My inspiration has long been environments, internal and external”
Also watch out for Cheryl Warren’s Immersions in Landscape at Espresso Library. Impressive large-scale abstracts have long been making a name for this fantastic Cambridge artist. Warren originally trained in sculpture at Bretton Hall, before going to Goldsmiths, where she took a postgraduate mixed media course. As well as holding an MA in Art Therapy, she’s been a professional artist for 21 years. “My inspiration has long been environments, both external and internal. There’s an interaction between the two that’s long been of interest to me,” she says. You can see the influence of light, texture and scale in her work – with mesmerising presence. Don’t miss Independent Cambridge Indie Arts presents Landscapes at the Library featuring Cheryl Warren, Anne Beamish and Steve Linford, on 14 March.
Also make a beeline for Stray, a collective of artists working across a range of disciplines in Cambridge, including Rosemary Catling, Manuela Hubner, Sue Law, Alison Litherland, Judy Logan, Jill Ogilvy and Deanna Tyson. Stray will hold its first exhibition at the Old Fire Engine House in Ely, until 31 March. The vibrant and wide-ranging show includes painting, sculpture, textiles, drawings and handmade, limited-edition prints. “The diversity and quality of work that Stray creates is ideal for the gallery here,” says Ann Jarman, curator and owner of the Old Fire Engine House. “Mixed shows are very popular with our visitors who appreciate a wide range of contemporary art which is exciting, challenging and accessible and we hope Stray will be a great start to 2019.”
While plotting your nights out at the Corn Exchange, look out for the work of illustrator Cecelia Wood, giving the cover of the brochure a fresh, quirky new look. Cambridge Corn Exchange has teamed up with Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin to produce a hand-drawn and created design for the cover, depicting the venue with its stunning Florentine Gothic façade dating from 1875. “I’m currently in my final year studying Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. This project was a really exciting opportunity to work on a live brief, to create an illustration of Cambridge landmarks,” says Cecelia.