Cambridge gallery lends art to students ‘with none damaged’ in 60 years

A scheme that lets students replace their wall posters with professional paintings has clocked up six decades without a single piece lost or damaged.

Kettle’s Yard gallery in Cambridge has loaned framed art to Anglia Ruskin and Cambridge University students for a small fee since 1957.

More than 100 artworks are borrowed at the start of the academic year from a 180-strong collection.

A spokeswoman said the loan programme is “based purely on trust”.

The scheme was established by Jim Ede who founded Kettle’s Yard and believed “young people could be at home unhampered by the greater austerity of the museum or public art gallery”.

Rievaulx Abbey by Ben Nicholson and Sitting One by Roy Turner Durrant
Image captionA print of Ben Nicholson’s Rievaulx Abbey and Sitting 1 by Roy Turner Durrant, given to Jim Ede by the artist, are available as part of the loan system

The value of the artwork is not disclosed, although the pieces are not from the gallery’s core collection.

Susie Biller, head of communications, said the gallery has “never had an issue” with theft or damage.

“It is based purely on trust – students value and respect them,” she said.

“Students can experience art in a different light and find new meaning every time they look at it.”

The available artworks are by British and European artists of the 20th and 21st Centuries, who are not necessarily household names but “well-known in the art world”.

Among the more famous artists, a print of Ben Nicholson’s Rievaulx Abbey is available, but not the original.

“Nothing too valuable is lent out, for obvious reasons,” said Ms Biller.

Students can hire up to two artworks for the year for £20 each.

A visitors’ book shows the former director of the Tate, Sir Nicholas Serota, borrowed a Henri Gaudier-Brzeska drawing when he was at Christ’s College in the 1960s.

Recent Jesus College graduate Kitty Grady borrowed two large “visibly bold but unfussy” paintings to “look good together and with the colour scheme of my room”.

“Student rooms can often feel quite clinical. It was an easy way to make your room feel more personal and homely,” she said.

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