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5 Things About 'Making New Worlds: Li Yuan-chia & Friends'

Find out more about our new exhibition Making New Worlds: Li Yuan-chia & Friends in this blog post.

1. Li Yuan-chia created the LYC Museum & Art Gallery

Li Yuan-chia, the artist at the centre of our exhibition Making New Worlds, was born in Hsu (Xu) village, near Guilin in the Guangxi province of mainland China in 1929.

Li moved to Taiwan in 1949, where he attended the art education department of the Taipei Normal College and was part of the Ton Fan group of artists. In 1962, Li moved to Bologna, where he was associated with the Il Punto movement, before moving to London in 1966 following an invitation from the Philippine-born, London-based artist David Medalla.

Li was inspired to create and run a contemporary arts organisation, called the LYC Museum & Art Gallery that went on to have a huge impact on many artists and visitors, as well as leaving an archive and legacy of its activities.

Li Yuan-chia in his studio at the LYC Museum and Art Gallery, Brampton, Cumbria, 1969. Image courtesy of Demarco Digital Archive University of Dundee & Richard Demarco Archive

2. Li bought the buildings that would become the LYC from painter Winifred Nicholson

Winifred Nicholson, Road Along the Roman Wall (Landscape with Two Buildings), 1926

In 1967, Li moved to Boothby in Cumbria, where he bought the buildings that would become the LYC galleries from artist and friend, Winifred Nicholson, who lived and worked close by.

46 years earlier, Winifred Nicholson had painted the much-loved painting, Road Along the Roman Wall (Landscape with Two Buildings) that usually hangs in the Kettle’s Yard house. It depicts an ancient road in Cumbria near Winifred Nicholson’s family home at the time. This road led to these buildings that later became the LYC Museum & Art Gallery.

You can see this work in the exhibition.

3. You can explore the ‘Cosmic Point’ in the exhibition

Li was interested in the idea of what he called the ‘cosmic point’ – whether in the form of a small dot of ink on paper or a large hanging disc suspended from the ceiling. Also the title of his first solo exhibition in London, Li saw the ‘cosmic point’ as a connection point between the real and the imaginary. Room 1 of the exhibition evokes the cosmic through artworks, lights and installations.

Photo by Matthew Hollow

4. You can make your own drawing on Anna Brownsted’s Drawing Machine

Photo by Matthew Hollow

Inspired by the drawing machine installed in the Children’s Room at the LYC Museum & Art Gallery, artist Anna Brownsted has created Drawing Machine #6 through weekly creative sessions with young people at Akeman Community Centre.

Following Li’s resourcefulness, Brownsted constructed the machine from repurposed materials including dismantled easels and two floor bricks retrieved from Kettle’s Yard during the 2015–18 renovation. Have a go on the drawing machine during your visit to the exhibition using the instructions provided. Share your creations with us on social media using #MakingNewWorlds

5. There are lots of connections between Kettle’s Yard and LYC Museum & Art Gallery

Both the LYC Museum & Art Gallery and Kettle’s Yard were created by people who believed in the connection between art and life and were interested in the possibilities of what an art space can be.

This exhibition traces this shared ethos of living with art. Both projects evolved over time, with collections (in the case of Kettle’s Yard) and exhibitions (in the case of the LYC) being shaped through friendships and personal relationships. Many of the artists in the Kettle’s Yard collection feature in this exhibition, including Barbara Hepworth, Naum Gabo, Ben, Kate and Winifred Nicholson and Ian Finlay Hamilton.

Photo by Matthew Hollow
Visit Making New Worlds: Li Yuan-chia & Friends until 18 February 2024.