A brief History of the Visual Arts Centre at Christ’s College – by Alan Munro

In 1997, I was approached by the Director of Kettle’s Yard, Michael Harrison, enquiring if by any chance the College had space to house a Video artist called Marion Kalmus for a year.  I had, for a long time, felt that the University and College provide outstanding opportunities for sport, music and drama, but very little for the visual arts.  I had also identified the space on the first floor above the furniture shop on King Street as unsuitable for commercial letting.  Kettle’s Yard were willing to pay a modest rent and our Maintenance Manager (then Tony Weaver) felt that it would be very easy to make part of the space suitable for Marion Kalmus’ work.  In this way the Art Centre started.

Kettle’s Yard expressed an interest to rent space again for the next academic year, and the College Council agreed that the Maintenance Department could spend a modest sum working in the summer to convert the whole of the first floor into three large studios.  Also at this time the College was extremely fortunate to receive a donation from Ruben Levy and Shelby White, which together with funds from Sir John Plumb, created the Levy Plumb fund, which agreed to fund a graduate studentship in the Visual Arts with the first appointment in the summer of 1998.

Somehow I felt that we should be able to use the third studio to make sure that Christ’s students would get the opportunity, and be encouraged, to try life drawing. Again, I was approached by Issam Kourbaj, a Cambridge artist who was looking for studio space to rent.  Issam has had many years experience as a teacher to people at all levels of ability.  The Council agreed that I could offer Issam one of the studios free of rent on condition that he provided life drawing classes for Christ's College students.  Much has changed since then, but the College is delighted to have Issam still working in one of its studios.

In addition the Centre has been used for exhibitions and for the student picture loan scheme.  Later the only usable room on the second floor has been let commercially either for storage or for creative artists.

Kettle’s Yard Artist’s in Residence

1997-98           Marion Kalmus           http://www.marionkalmus.com/

1998-99           Stephen Chamers RA  http://stephenchambers.com/

1999-00           Jaun Cruz

2000-01           Jane Dixon                 ; ; ;  http://www.janedixon.net/

2001-02           Claude Heath              http://www.claudeheath.com/texts/article7.php

2002-03           Marion Coutts             http://www.marioncoutts.com/cv.html

Since 2003, there have not been funds from Kettle’s Yard to support an artist in residence. The studio space that Kettle’s Yard had used is now let by the College – from 2009 to Anthony Smith a sculptor and Christ’s alumnus (m. 2004).

Past and present Levy-Plumb Visual Arts Studentship Holders

2010-2011: Anna Trench

2009-2010: Naomi Grant

2008-2009: Tom de Freston

2007-2008: Verica Kovacevska

2006-2007: Beatrice Priest

2005-2006: Vanessa Hodgkinson

2004-2005: Sarah Howe

2003-2004: Anton Burdakov

2002-2003: Steve Jamison

2001-2002: S J Mockler

2000-2001: S McMillan

1999-2000: J J F Wilenius

1998-1999: Lachlan Goudie

Past and present Visual Arts Award Holders

2011-2012: Rachel Briggs, Helen Taylour, Rosa Uddoh