Nnena Kalu

Studio Voltaire elsewhere

For this new commission, Nnena Kalu (b. 1966, Glasgow) is working in situ in the gallery, creating a series of large–scale sculptural installations.

By binding, layering and wrapping materials, Kalu explores space, scale and texture through repetitive and durational sculptural processes. Her installations begin with multiple small, compact ‘cocoons’ of textiles, thread and paper tightly packed in cellophane and tape. With an emphasis on colour and volume, these spheres of bound materials are collected together around constructed frameworks.

Kalu’s vigorous, sprawling aggregations of material disorganise understandings of her sculptures as objects, structures or landscapes. Continuously in production, her works reflect the duration, rhythm and process of their making, transforming and accentuating the formal qualities of these everyday items. 

The artist’s installations become an extension of her physical movements, centering an important relationship between the artist’s body and her sculptural forms. Correspondingly, periods of ‘live’ installation have become an established aspect of Kalu’s practice, and she will continue to work onsite throughout the duration of the exhibition on Thursdays and Saturdays from 11am until 5pm. 

This exhibition is presented in partnership with ActionSpace, a leading organisation supporting the development of artists with learning disabilities, which has been based at Studio Voltaire since 1999. Kalu is an important member of Studio Voltaire’s artistic community, and her work has previously been included in a number of group exhibitions at the gallery.

This is Kalu’s first major solo exhibition in a London institution, following presentations at Glasgow International (2018) and Humber Street Gallery, Hull (2019). This commission is the first in Studio Voltaire elsewhere, a unique series of ambitious offsite commissions for 2020 whilst we undertake The Studio Voltaire Capital Project.

Presented in partnership with ActionSpace. Supported by Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants and The Elephant Trust. With kind assistance from Cork Street Galleries.

About Nnena Kalu

Nnena Kalu (b. 1966, Glasgow) lives and works in London.

Recent exhibitions include: Nnena Kalu: Wrapping, Humber Street Gallery, Hull (2019); TUBE LINES, Tate Exchange, Tate Modern, London (2019); Spectrum Arts Prize, Saatchi Gallery, London (2018); Glasgow International, Project Ability, Glasgow (2018); Spring Syllabus, J Hammond Projects, London (2018); Watch This Space, Wandsworth Arts Fringe, London (2017); Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (2017); Capharnaum, Theatre de Liege, Le Madmusee, Liege (2016); Studio Voltaire OPEN, Selected by Cory Arcangel and Hanne Mugaas, Studio Voltaire, London (2015); Dizziness of Freedom, Bermondsey Project, London (2014); The Trouble with Painting Today, Pump House Gallery, London (2014); Epiphanies! Secrets of Outsider Art, St Pancras Hospital, London (2014); Side by Side, Southbank Centre, London (2013); SV12 Member’s Show, Selected by Jenni Lomax and Mike Nelson, Studio Voltaire, London (2012).

About ActionSpace

ActionSpace is a London-based visual arts organisation that supports artists with learning disabilities and creates innovative projects for people with learning disabilities to engage with the visual arts. Their work with high profile cultural organisations has helped to establish a place for artists with learning disabilities in the contemporary arts sector. They aim to make a professional career in the arts a realistic option for artists with learning disabilities.

About Studio Voltaire elsewhere

Taking place in locations across London, this site–specific programme comes at a time when our permanent home in Clapham is closed to the public whilst undergoing a transformative £2.4 million redevelopment.

Nnena Kalu, Dawn Mellor, Phyllida Barlow and Monster Chetwynd are creating new work for this series. Each artist has a special relationship with Studio Voltaire and this programme celebrates a number of important commissions in our institution’s history, reflecting our track record of supporting artists at key stages in their careers.

Getting to 30 Old Burlington Street


The closest tube stations are Piccadilly Circus (on the Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines) (approximately 0.3 miles) and Green Park (on the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria lines) (approximately 0.4 miles).  The nearest station with step-free access from street to platform is Green Park. Please check the TfL website for up-to-date information.


Very limited paid on–street parking is available on Old Burlington Street.


The entrance to the gallery is located at 30 Old Burlington Street. This entrance is fitted with automatic doors. The entrance into the gallery at 30 Old Burlington Street is ramped, providing step free access from the street. The ramp is 122.5 cm wide. The ramp has a 1:8 gradient over 366cm. Please note that the ramp is not fitted with a handrail.


The floor within the gallery space is unfinished concrete.

Toilet Provision

Regrettably, the temporary offsite gallery at 30 Old Burlington Street has no public toilets. The nearest toilets and accessible toilets are located at the Royal Academy, approximately 200ft from 30 Old Burlington Street via the Burlington Gardens entrance. Please check the Royal Academy website for opening hours and further information.


Wooden folding chairs are available to borrow on request. Please ask a member of the front of house team.

Assistance Animals

Guide dogs, hearing and registered assistance dogs are welcome.

Large Print

Information about the exhibition is available in large print. Please ask a member of the front of house team.

If you would like to discuss your access requirements in advance of your visit, please contact info@studiovoltaire.org in confidence.


Studio Voltaire elsewhere

Nnena Kalu, Dawn Mellor, Phyllida Barlow and Monster Chetwynd

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