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Li Yuan-chia, Untitled, 1994, Unique hand-coloured photographic print. Image courtesy of the Li Yuan- chia Foundation.

Making New Worlds: Li Yuan-chia & Friends

11 November 2023 – 18 February 2024, 11am – 5pm

This group exhibition was based on the pioneering vision of artist Li Yuan-chia (1929 – 1994) and the LYC Museum & Art Gallery which he founded and ran between 1972 and 1983 in the Cumbrian village of Banks, alongside Hadrian’s Wall.

I can hardly think of a more uplifting show for the dying days of autumn than Making New Worlds at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge. Everything about it is bright, beautiful, hopeful and as amiable as the subtitle suggests.



This event has passed. Free, come along

The exhibition retraced Li’s commitment to fostering creativity, his interest in play and his investment in new ways of being in the world. Through the LYC, Li showcased Roman artefacts, works by major figures of British modernism, local artists and contemporary practices including kineticism, land art and video. The LYC’s children’s room provided a place for young people to experiment with art making, while craft workshops played host to communities of making. Much like Kettle’s Yard, the LYC also had a library, a garden, and spaces to socialise, transforming how we encounter art.

The exhibition put the LYC into conversation with Kettle’s Yard. 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 affiliations, including with the artist Winifred Nicholson, who was an important presence at both the LYC and Kettle’s Yard.

Li’s practice – as both artist and organiser – was at the centre of the exhibition, along with those artists he exhibited at the LYC and those who were part of the cosmopolitan networks he enabled and enriched. Making New Worlds also included works by contemporary artists reflecting on the afterlives of Li’s work in the present.

Making New Worlds: Li Yuan-chia & Friends was developed in partnership between Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art as part of its ‘London, Asia’ project, and was accompanied by a new publication produced by Kettle’s Yard and supported by Paul Mellon Centre.

It was co-curated by Hammad Nasar (Curator, Strategic advisor and Senior Research Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre), Sarah Victoria Turner (Director of the Paul Mellon Centre) and Amy Tobin (Curator, contemporary programmes, Kettle’s Yard).

Exhibition Artists

Audrey Barker ~ Thetis Blacker ~ Anna Brownsted ~ Hsiao Chin ~ Lygia Clark ~ Delia Derbyshire (remixed by David Butler) ~ Ian Hamilton Finlay ~ Bettina Fung ~ Naum Gabo ~ Andy Goldsworthy ~ Barbara Hepworth ~ EJ Hooper ~ Madelon Hooykaas ~ Dom Sylvester Houédard ~ Claire Langdown ~ Liliane Lijn ~ Ovidiu Maitec ~ David Medalla ~ David Nash ~ Grace Ndiritu ~ Paul Neagu ~ Ben Nicholson ~ Kate Nicholson ~ Winifred Nicholson ~ Mira Schendel ~ Elsa Stansfield ~ Takis ~ Aaron Tan ~ Charwei Tsai ~ Shelagh Wakely ~ Donald Wilkinson and Li Yuan-chia




I can hardly think of a more uplifting show for the dying days of autumn than Making New Worlds at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge. Everything about it is bright, beautiful, hopeful and as amiable as the subtitle suggests.

Read the full review

Conviviality and friendship shine through this group show…Our understanding of 20th-century British art is all the richer for it.


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This sense of energy that permeates Kettle’s Yard, is electrifying, with works infused by the spirit of one of the twentieth century’s most influential, but overlooked radical artists


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Photo by Matthew Hollow
Photo by My Linh Le

I was excited to see what an impact Li had on many diverse artists. I loved his attitude to art and life. A really caring and genuine artist.



Amazing, engaging, excellent.



I’m in my 70s — it was lovely to revisit that period of conceptual/abstract art.



Satellite Display at West Court Gallery

A satellite exhibition Making New Forms: Li Yuan-chia & Friends focusing in experiments in ink, charcoal and clay by Li, Bettina Fung, Madelon Hooykaas and Charwei Tsai, was open concurrently nearby at West Court Gallery, Jesus College, Cambridge.

Find out more about Making New Forms: Li Yuan-chia & Friends at West Court Gallery

Li Yuan-chia, Untitled, c.1960, ink on paper. Image courtesy of the Li Yuan-chia Foundation

Exhibition Publication

Find out more


Watch these videos of Recursions: when it feels like home, a day of performances at Kettle’s Yard to celebrate Making New Worlds: Li Yuan-chia & Friends.


The galleries, where exhibitions are shown, and all areas of the Clore Learning Studio (level -1) and Ede Room (level 2) are fully accessible. We have wheelchair accessible toilets on the lower ground, ground and first floor. There is a lift giving access to all floors located past the galleries, just beside the Clore Learning Studio on the ground floor. Kettle’s Yard welcomes assistance and service dogs in all areas. We can lend visitors small folding seats for taking around exhibitions or using at non-seated events. Please ask a Visitor Assistant for help finding a seat.

Please note that this exhibition contains flashing lights and intermittent audio.

The exhibition has large-print captions available.

Visit our Access page

Supported by the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan.



Making New Worlds: Li Yuan-chia & Friends was organised by Kettle’s Yard with the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London.