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Based on the pioneering vision of artist Li Yuan-chia (1929 – 1994), we visited Kettle's Yard to experience this energetic and uplifting show!

 Arts and Culture

Li Yuan-chia standing at the porch of the LYC Museum and Art Gallery, featuring window designed by David Nash. Image courtesy of Lin Yuan-chia.

Celebrating the ground-breaking artist, poet and arts organiser Li Yuan-chia, this exhibition retraced Li’s commitment to fostering creativity, his interest in play and his investment in new ways of being in the world.

Shelagh Wakely, Toward the Inside of a Container, 1979, Clay and ceramic object, multipart

Li’s practice – as both artist and organiser – was at the centre of the exhibition, along with those artists he exhibited at the LYC (Lin Yuan-chia Museum) |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.



The exhibition was organised playfully, allowing for flexibility and curiosity, similar to how Li would approach his work. Beginning with his early work and his fascination for the cosmic point, the body of work in Room 1 includes calligraphy and ink paintings to minimal studies on paper, sculpture and installation. An impressive collection, showcasing his interest in spirituality, technology and ecology, using surfaces such as linen, rice paper, fabric, wood and metal. Li's work is accompanied by several other artists, all interested in cosmic and spiritual energies, ranging from artists such as Winifred Nicholson, Consciousness,1980 to the incredible Liliane Lijn, Cosmic Flares, 1965-66.

Liliane Lijn, Cosmic Flares, 1965-66. Image courtesy of

Liliane Lijn, Cosmic Flares, 1965-66, a kinetic sculpture, comprised of a painted white wooden frame attached with light bulbs powered by a motorised switching mechanism. When switched on, the light bulbs flash intermittently to illuminate a spiral formation of polymer lenses, creating a theatrical atmosphere of anticipation and excitement!



In the late 1960s, Li moved from London to Cumbria in the far north of England, having previously lived in China, Taiwan and Italy. In the village Banks, he bought a dilapidated farm building from his neighbour, the painter Winifred Nicholson, and converted it into the LYC Museum & Art Gallery. The LYC ran between 1972 and 1983, taking its name from Li's initials. The museum showcased the work of more than 320 artists - from locals to those of international renown.

Room 2 takes cue from Li's LYC motto, 'SPACE / LIFE / TIME', presenting a treasure trove of work, speaking ideas of home, nature and belonging. Focusing on his time in Cumbria and his friends and visitors to the LYC, gathering a number of works and artists exhibited at the LYC.

Li Yuan-Chia, Untitled, 1970, Paint on fabric

Textiles by Li Yuan-chia during his time based in Cumbria. Often given away as gifts to friends with a spirit of goodwill and generosity. The symbolic red marks emulate life; at their centre, circles full of dots – Li’s signature markings, relating the individual to the cosmos, material to immaterial.

David Nash, Window for the LYC, c.1980, Mounted Glass. Installed in the museum window, Nash’s original mounted glasswork for the LYC looks onto the street, an invitation for passers-by.


Conviviality and friendship shines through at this group show. Li once said: ‘I want to put my whole heart into my art and then give my art to everyone – my friends and my enemies’.

What Li did at the LYC was important because he created an experimental art space that was not about power, privilege, value or wealth. The subtitle of the exhibition ‘& friends’ instead shows that friendship was one of Li’s great motivations and achievements.

As a viewer, you finish the exhibition on a high! Uplifted and certainly inspired!

Claire Langdown, Curtain Blowing, 1981-1982, Cherry, six parts

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


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