Studio Voltaire elsewhere

Nnena Kalu, Dawn Mellor, Phyllida Barlow and Monster Chetwynd

For the first time ever, Studio Voltaire will present an ambitious year–long programme of offsite projects whilst we undertake The Studio Voltaire Capital Project. This programme celebrates some of the most pivotal commissions in our 25–year history.

The site–specific programming will take place in extraordinary venues across London and comes at a time when our permanent home in Clapham is closed to the public whilst undergoing a transformative £2.4 million redevelopment.

We have commissioned Nnena Kalu, Dawn Mellor, Phyllida Barlow and Monster Chetwynd to create new work for this significant series. Each of these artists has a special relationship with Studio Voltaire, and this programme celebrates some of the most pivotal commissions within our institution’s history, reflecting our track record of supporting artists at key stages in their careers.

Studio Voltaire elsewhere launches in February 2020 and will run through until the re–opening of Studio Voltaire in Clapham in autumn 2020.


Nnena Kalu

Cork Street, Mayfair, W1
February–April 2020

This special programme will launch with a new solo commission by Nnena Kalu on Mayfair’s Cork Street. Kalu’s work is characterised by colourful forms constructed from recycled and everyday materials – plastic tubing, newspaper, foam, cling film, fabric and tape. Small, tightly constructed cocoons are accumulated to form complex installations which respond to the surrounding architecture. 

For this new commission, Kalu will work in situ in the gallery throughout the duration of the exhibition, creating a new series of large–scale sculptural installations. By binding, layering and wrapping materials, the artist’s sculptures reflect the duration, rhythm and process of their making. Kalu’s energetic installations become an extension of her physical movements, centering an important relationship between the artist’s body and her sculptural forms. 

Kalu’s commission will be 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 exhibited as part of group exhibitions in 2012 and 2015. Following an acclaimed solo presentation at Glasgow International in 2018, this will be Kalu’s first major solo commission with a London institution.


Dawn Mellor

Brent, NW10
May 2020

In May 2020, Studio Voltaire will launch the first permanent public artwork by leading British artist Dawn Mellor, in partnership with Create London for Brent 2020. 

For the past twenty years, Mellor has painted portraits of celebrities, drawing on imagery collected from photographic portraits, gossip magazines, film stills and the internet. Her works are both commemorative and personal, while celebrating a long tradition of camp as a tool of resistance within queer culture. 

The artist’s explores identity, class, politics and pop culture and Mellor’s protagonists have previously included Helen Mirren, Michael Jackson, Morrissey, Tony Blair, Karl Lagerfeld, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton and Judy Garland. The artist transforms her subjects via iconoclastic interventions which reflect the darkly obsessive facets of fan culture and fame; and the many roles, both public and private, assigned to celebrity. 

Studio Voltaire has a long relationship with Mellor, with exhibitions including An Ecstasy of Purpose (2010); When I was a teenage bore (2009); and Vile Affections (2007). Co-commissioned by Studio Voltaire, Brent Borough of Culture 2020 and Create London.


Phyllida Barlow

The Anglican Chapel at Nunhead Cemetery, Nunhead, SE15
June–October 2020

In a remarkable pairing of practice and site, Studio Voltaire presents a highly ambitious new public installation by internationally celebrated sculptor Phyllida Barlow, sited within the partially ruined and open–aired rotunda of The Anglican Chapel in Nunhead Cemetery, South East London. 

Barlow, who is known for her monumental structures of stacked, bound and balanced forms, often makes use of industrial and everyday materials. Her tactile constructions have an imposing physical presence and yet, often appear at the edge of collapse. Tensions in her work between transformation, entropy and precarity resonate strongly within the chosen site –  the cemetery’s formal avenues and Victorian landscaping give way to serpentine paths which lead visitors through stones thick with ivy, Gothic revival monuments and overgrown plots. 

Consecrated in 1840, Nunhead Cemetery is perhaps the least explored, but most attractive, of London’s great Victorian Cemeteries. This major new commission promises extraordinary and unexpected encounters with Barlow’s sculptures in a distinctive and one of a kind setting.

Studio Voltaire previously presented a major new commission of Barlow’s work in 2010, BLUFF. This exhibition played an important role in raising the artist’s international profile and represents a highly significant moment for both the artist and the organisation.

This commission is presented in partnership with the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery.


Monster Chetwynd

Across sites in Clapham, Lambeth, SW4
July 2020

Studio Voltaire elsewhere returns to Clapham in this celebratory finale by Monster Chetwynd. Working in close collaboration with local residents, the artist will lead a special performance project that will take place across multiple sites in Clapham, exploring the area’s rich history and well-established connections to dissent and non-conformism.

Chetwynd has become internationally renowned for her carnivalesque live performances, which share elements of the bawdy anarchy of sixteenth– century wandering troupes, foregrounding key moments from art history and cultural production.

This commission follows a long–standing collaborative relationship between Studio Voltaire and Chetwynd, having worked together on multiple projects since 2005, including The Walk to Dover (2005), Listen Up! and Hermitos Children 2 (both 2014).


About the artists

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, Lambeth Council, Wolfson Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, and London (2019); Spectrum Arts Prize, Saatchi Gallery, London (2018); Glasgow International Art Fair, 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 Dawn Mellor
Dawn Mellor (b. 1970, Manchester) has had numerous solo exhibitions in London, New York, Venice, and Brussels. Recent solo exhibitions include Sirens, Team Gallery, New York, (2017), What Happened to Helen?, Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea, (2013), An Ecstasy of Purpose, Studio Voltaire, London (2010) and at The Migros Museum fur Gegenwartskunst, Zurich (2008). Her work has been shown at the Kunstverein Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany; The Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius, Vilnius, Lithuania; Limerick City Art Gallery, Limerick, Ireland; Museum Arnhem, Arnhem, Netherlands; Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, Netherlands; MoMA P.S.1, Long Island City, New York; and Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom. She is represented by Team Gallery, New York.

About Phyllida Barlow
Phyllida Barlow CBE RA (b. 1944, Newcastle upon Tyne) lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include cul-de-sac, Royal Academy, London (2019); Phyllida Barlow: prop, High Line Art, New York; Tenth Anniversary Commission, Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh (2018); Phyllida Barlow: folly, La Biennale di Venezia, British Pavilion, Venice IT; ARTIST ROOMS: Phyllida Barlow, Turner Contemporary, Margate UK (2017); tryst, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas TX; set, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2015); Duveen Commission: Phyllida Barlow. dock, Tate Britain, London (2014); siege, New Museum, New York (2012); BLUFF, Studio Voltaire, London (2010). Recent group exhibitions include: Tissage, Tressage, Foundation Villa Datris, Isle sur la Sorgue, FR; Power to the People, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt DE (2018); Versus Rodin: Bodies Across Space and Time, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia AU; Constellations: Highlights from the Nations Collection of Modern Art, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool UK (2017); The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture, Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield UK (2016); New Rhythms, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge UK (2015).

About Monster Chetwynd
Monster Chetwynd (b. 1973, London) lives and works in Glasgow. She was previously known as Marvin Gaye Chetwynd and before that, Spartacus Chetwynd, Monster Chetwynd. Solo exhibitions and performances include De Pont Museum, Tilburg, NL, (2019), Villa Arson, Nice, France (2019), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino, Italy (2018); Sadie Coles HQ London (2018); CCA Glasgow (2016); Bergen Assembly, Bergen Kunsthall, Norway (2016); Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany (2016); Arts Council Collection Commission (2016); Nottingham Contemporary (2014); Studio Voltaire, London (2014, 2005); Massimo de Carlo, Milan, Italy (2014); Sadie Coles HQ, London (2014); and the New Museum, New York (2011-12). Chetwynd was the first ever performance artist to be nominated for the Turner Prize in 2012.

About our partners

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 Create London
Create London is an arts organisation that has pioneered working with artists to realise new social enterprises, charities and cultural spaces. They commission, curate and incubate long- term projects that are useful to society, supporting artists to work collaboratively with local communities. They reimagine the role of the artist in the city, working outside of galleries to find new and often surprising ways for art to become part of everyday life.

About Friends of Nunhead Cemetery
The Friends of Nunhead Cemetery is an entirely voluntary organisation that exists to represent all those with an interest in the cemetery. The group seeks to promote the conservation and appreciation of the cemetery as a place of remembrance, of historic importance and of natural beauty, and runs guided tours, talks and Open Days throughout the year.

Image credits:

Nunhead Cemetery, site view, 2019.

Nnena Kalu, Boulder Sculptures, 2018, Mixed Media. Courtesy of the artist and Action Space.

Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), Courtesy Dawn Mellor

Dawn Mellor, Police Constable Sally Armstrong (Alexandra Louise Bastian), Courtesy Dawn Mellor

Installation view: ‘Phyllida Barlow: folly’, British Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Ruth Clark, © British Council

Performance view, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Dogsy Ma Bone, Liverpool Biennial, 9th July 2016 Copyright Monster Chetwynd, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London Photography: © Liverpool Biennial