Nucleus: Mary Kelly’s Extase and the birth of a women’s art collection

February 7, 2018 - May 28, 2018

Mary Kelly, the American conceptual artist and feminist, is the subject for The New Hall Art Collection’s spring 2018 exhibition, programmed to coincide with the re-opening of Kettle’s Yard.  

Kelly, now recognised as one of the most significant artists of her time, stayed at New Hall (now Murray Edwards College) for the academic year 1985-6, as artist in residence with Kettle’s Yard. It was a formative time for both Kelly and the College.

Kelly creates large scale narrative installations and contact with the University of Cambridge fed into her interdisciplinary approach to art.  One of her major works from that period, Extase, part of the series Interim, will be the central focus of the exhibition alongside archival material and letters that tell the story of Kelly’s time in Cambridge and the acquisition of the work.

The 3 pairs of photo laminates that normally hang in the College’s ‘Dome’ dining hall were acquired in 1986 and were the catalyst for the New Hall Art Collection. Now with over 500 gifted and donated works the New Hall Art Collection is the largest collection of modern and contemporary works by women in Europe, recognised for its significance in the advocacy and narrative of art by women.

The exhibition is displayed in the Lower Fountain Court gallery at Murray Edwards College Cambridge, allowing closer inspection of the Extase panels.