Studio Voltaire was initiated in 1994 by a collective of twelve artists who set up a studio space in a disused tram shed on Voltaire Road, Clapham and quickly grew to become a limited company in 1997.
In response to the demand of low cost studios and dissatisfaction with the lack of exhibition space in the local area, the organisation moved to its current location in 1999. The move to a larger site of a derelict metal works factory enabled Studio Voltaire to increase its provision of affordable studios and offer a dedicated gallery space in a former chapel, adjacent to the studios. Following a period of major renovations, the organisation launched the new site and became a registered charity in 2001.
Studio Voltaire currently houses over 45 London based artists, ranging from internationally recognised practitioners to recent graduates and includes two groups supporting artists with learning difficulties – Actionspace and Intoart. Our main objective is to create a supportive and critical atmosphere to develop diverse artistic practices. In recent years, the studios have also hosted a number of residencies; partner organisations have included Berlin Senate/Whitechapel Gallery, Scottish Arts Council/Collective Gallery, Art Links/British Council and Outset/Royal College of Art.
In recent years, Studio Voltaire has developed a reputation for supporting artists at a pivotal stage in their careers through an ambitious public programme of exhibitions, commissions, live events and offsite projects at national and international level. We are proud of our unique way of working; developing close relationships with artists and the wider art community by being close to the creative process at a grassroots level. The programme aims to facilitate projects that may not always be supported within institutional or commercial frameworks, offering substantial critical and practical support to artists, enabling them to develop new work on their own terms. Studio Voltaire places great emphasis on risk-taking and allowing artists to explore emerging elements within their practice. The gallery is located in a Victorian former church building and offers a large and dynamic space in which to work, which very unusual in London. The gallery is characterised by a dramatic vaulted ceiling and is flooded with natural light. Previous exhibited artists include Nairy Baghramian, Phyllida Barlow, Simon Bedwell, Juliette Blightman, Nicholas Byrne, Spartacus Chetwynd, Chris Evans, Thea Djordjadze, Liam Gillick, Anthea Hamilton, Emma Hedditch, Intoart, Goshka Macuga, Dawn Mellor, Henrik Olesen, Elizabeth Price, Jimmy Robert, Joanne Tatham & Tom O’Sullivan, Donald Urquhart, Lawrence Weiner and Cathy Wilkes.
The organisation is committed to widening access to contemporary practice and since 2002 has run a wide reaching education programme producing artist-led projects and activities for individuals, schools and communities within the local area.
Studio Voltaire is core funded through income self generated by studio rents, commercial hires and trading. The remaining balance must be raised through public funding, trusts and foundations, individual and corporate giving and other fundraising activities. Our strengths and ambitions have grown substantially over the years, and the organisation aims to continue developing our programmes to reach larger audiences while ensuring we continue to provide relevant activities and resources for all our stakeholders into the future.