Jim Ede was born in 1895, the son of a solicitor in South Wales. As a child he was set on becoming an artist. After time spent at the Newlyn and the Slade Schools of Art and service in the Great War, he joined the Tate Gallery where he sought unsuccessfully to persuade the authorities to buy cutting-edge contemporary art.
Frustrated, he resigned and set up house in Tangier until he moved to Cambridge in 1956. Knocking four cottages together to make a considerable dwelling, Ede made his home there and in distinctively white-walled minimalist style, furnished it with his pictures and sculptures and restrained furnishings. He encouraged young students to come for “open day” teas and to view his collection. This was his vision for “Kettle’s Yard”: “a living place where works of art could be enjoyed… where young people could be at home unhampered by the greater austerity of the museum or public art gallery.” Eventually, in 1966, he decided to bequeath the house and holdings to Cambridge University.