View of “Anthea Hamilton,” 2016–17. Photo: Stuart Whipps.

View of “Anthea Hamilton,” 2016–17. Photo: Stuart Whipps.

Anthea Hamilton

View of “Anthea Hamilton,” 2016–17. Photo: Stuart Whipps.

Starting in 1957, writer and former Tate Gallery curator Harold Stanley “Jim” Ede turned four nineteenth-century cottages near the University of Cambridge into a single home, called Kettle’s Yard, in which to display his collection of mainly British modern art. In 1966 Ede donated the property to the university, though he and his wife continued to live there until they retired to Edinburgh in 1973. In the process, Ede created a unique environment for art, characterized by a kind of studious informality. The gallery’s major renovation, now in its second year, provided an opportunity to tour its collection. The Hepworth Wakefield has taken the idea one step further with the aptly titled “Anthea Hamilton Reimagines Kettle’s Yard,” for which the 2016 Turner Prize nominee was invited to reconfigure the previous exhibition, “Kettle’s Yard at the Hepworth Wakefield,” drawn from both institutions’ collections.

As in Cambridge, an air of domesticity is created by the presence of chairs, tables, and even a grand piano, interspersed with works from the collection and by Hamilton and chosen collaborators. For example, works such as two paintings of teapots by Ella Kruglyanskaya, or Daniel Sinsel’s Butzenbrille (Bull’s-Eye Glasses), 2007—small sculptures of spectacles with cement frames and orange blown-glass lenses—help conjure this sense of hominess. In her research, Hamilton discovered that woven mats had over the years been removed from Ede’s original furnishing of the house, prompting her to commission new handwoven grass ones. These large circular forms, echoing her observation that circular and curved motifs predominate, have been installed both on the floors and on the walls, lending a visual rhythm to the large single space.

Running throughout Hamilton’s work are ideas drawn from design, furniture, and the human figure. For instance, the surreal-Pop Vulcano Table, 2014, is a desklike sculpture with Ferrari-red pieces of blown glass bursting forth as if erupting from its metal surface. Yet there still seems to be enough free space on its surface for eating or writing. The tessellating, multicolored triangular pattern from the shirt in a 1927 Self-Portrait by Christopher Wood—a painter closely associated with Ben Nicholson but who died tragically young in 1930—provides the print for a new kimono, Christopher Wood Kimono, 2016, draped on a standing T-frame. The garment’s shape, a recurrent form in Hamilton’s work, is also to be found in the T shape of a chest of drawers, which she has filled with objects chosen from the collection and from her belongings, including shoes and a loaf of bread from a famous bagel bakery in London’s Brick Lane, and allows for a neat convergence of her interests in painting and sculpture, while also maintaining a reference to the figure.

Although Hamilton’s constructions do not always seem overtly sculptural, they play with and dissect its traditions. For instance, by placing one object on another—even a painting by Helene Appel on a piano—she evokes the relation between a sculpture and its base. Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann’s Daybed, DB16, 2016, is a low, flat-tiled floor piece, like a loud checkered Minimalist sculpture; its colors correspond to those in a painting (by Bryan Pearce) in the collection, while the work itself serves as a base for a posthumous bronze cast of a 1912 ornamental mask by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. The largest commission, Spiral stair case, 2016, takes this relationship to a more playful level: A duplicate of the stairs at Kettle’s Yard, it has three figurative bronzes by Gaudier-Brzeska punctuated alternatively by Sinsel’s eyeglasses and other objects arranged on the steps. Echoing the curves of the stairs, the bronzes seem to be descending their gigantic pedestal—perhaps in a neat allusion to Marcel Duchamp.

The most sensitive work here is a group of pebbles from Ede’s collection, reconfigured by Hamilton as a pair of mobiles with the stones hanging at different lengths from two straight rods. The object’s wit lies in making small weighted objects float, dotting the air like a drawing or a small galaxy hovering over the show. This playful microcosm is perhaps the best salute to Ede in a show that honors his memory through the very liberties it takes with his collection.

Sherman Sam