This group exhibition is based on the pioneering vision of artist Li Yuan-chia (1929 – 1994) and the LYC Museum & Art Gallery which he founded and ran between 1972 and 1983 in the Cumbrian village of Banks, alongside Hadrian’s Wall.
The exhibition retraces Li’s commitment to fostering creativity, his interest in play and his investment in new ways of being in the world. Through the LYC, Li showcased Roman artefacts, works by major figures of British modernism, local artists and contemporary practices including kineticism, land art and video. The LYC’s children’s room provided a place for young people to experiment with art making, while craft workshops played host to communities of making. Much like Kettle’s Yard, the LYC also had a library, a garden, and spaces to socialise, transforming how we encounter art.
The exhibition puts the LYC into conversation with Kettle’s Yard. Both projects evolved over time, with collections (in the case of Kettle’s Yard) and exhibitions (in the case of the LYC) being shaped through friendships and personal affiliations, including with the artist Winifred Nicholson, who was an important presence at both the LYC and Kettle’s Yard.
Li’s practice – as both artist and organiser – is at the centre of the exhibition, along with those artists he exhibited at the LYC and those who were part of the cosmopolitan networks he enabled and enriched. Making New Worlds will also include works by contemporary artists reflecting on the afterlives of Li’s work in the present.
Making New Worlds: Li Yuan-chia and Friends has developed in partnership between Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art as part of its ‘London, Asia’ project, and is accompanied by a new publication produced by Kettle’s Yard and supported by Paul Mellon Centre.
It is co-curated by Hammad Nasar (Curator, Strategic advisor and Senior Research Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre), Sarah Victoria Turner (Deputy Director of the Paul Mellon Centre) and Amy Tobin (Curator, contemporary programmes, Kettle’s Yard).