Monday, 21 January 2013


I've been looking at the transcripts of audio recordings about Helen Ede

I loved the artist Anne Eggebert's description of staying in Helen's bedroom and of Helen's invisibility in the house. She mentioned, that a lot of people that came to the house, didn't realise Jim was married.

The other transcripts talk of Helen and Jim's great companionship, his focus and her support. Helen loved nature, collecting mushrooms and picking blossom and would have loved to have lived in the countryside.

Her daughters also describe her grinding coffee and making mayonnaise on the stairs. Maybe it was more comfortable than the narrow kitchen.

Claire the archivist has told me that Helen's father Otto, was born in Erfurt, Thuringia, Germany in 1854.
(The year that Anna Atkins made her beautiful album: Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns disassembled pages of which are held by various museums and collectors.)

 I will try and find the Edinburgh address of the house Helen grew up in and of the house she stayed in with her family in Tangiers. My dream is to find people who can procure me some plants from each of these locations. I've already emailed lots of people and await to see what happens.

Once I have these specimens I'd love to make a quilt of some sort for Helen's bed, so that she can dream of plants she has known.

In 1792 Phillip Otto Runge learnt paper craft from his mother. At the age of 33 he got tuberculosis and unable to paint, made paper cut outs from his sick bed, as Matisse and Cartier-Bresson later did.

I have also been looking at the esteemed artists who have been resident at Kettle's Yard before me: Richard Wentworth piled back the domestic with plates on the table in the sitting room. Where they those left in the kitchen or did he find them elsewhere I wonder-and hope to find out. Judith Godard locked Helen Ede's room again, as it had been when the Ede's had been in residence. She had a CCTV of the interior of the bedroom screened into another room of the house that was 'on show'. Julian Walker and Anne Eggebert too used CCTV cameras but this time to film themselves and their two year old boy trying to live a normal life for a week while they stayed in the house. 

C. 1910 pillow made with cyanotyped cloth

Paper cut-outs by Phillip Otto Runge C. 1792

Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns Anna Atkins 1854

 Phillip Otto Runge's paper cut-outs C. 1792

Richard Wentworth Brac 1995, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge

Helen Ede emerging from her bedroom

Judith Godard's Helen's Room 1995 and 2009

Ian Hamilton-Finlay wrote of the ghost of Jim Ede and the reactions to the objects in the house after Jim's death:

 'I used to come here when Jim was here and we did this, that and the other', and you'd pick that up. Of course you then had the people who one gradually felt to be the guardians of the true flame who would come in and say, 'Op, I see that's moved three inches to the right', or whatever.'

PS I have called this post antimacassar because not only is it a lovely word but it's a domestic item my mother despised. When my paternal grandfather came to stay with us after he had a stroke, she spent the next five years trying to steal and burn his antimacassar which she saw as working class and therefore as repellent to her as Woolworths. 

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