Studio Voltaire elsewhere

Nnena Kalu, Phyllida Barlow, Dawn Mellor 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 26–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 £2.8 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 launched in February 2020. Projects are currently being rescheduled due to world events. Dates for future commissions will be announced in due course.

Phyllida Barlow

The Anglican Chapel at Nunhead Cemetery, Nunhead, SE15

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. 

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

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).

Nnena Kalu

30 Old Burlington Street, Mayfair, W1

For this new commission, Nnena Kalu worked 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.

This exhibition was 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.

Read more about Studio Voltaire elsewhere: Nnena Kalu here.

Dawn Mellor

499 Kingsbury Road, Kingsbury, Brent, NW9 9ED

British artist Dawn Mellor was commissioned to create their first permanent public artwork: a large-scale mural in Kingsbury, Brent, celebrating the life of local hero George Michael, who lived and went to school in the area.

Co-commissioned by Studio Voltaire, Brent Borough of Culture 2020 and Create London, Mellor created a nine-metre high artwork depicting singer-songwriter George Michael, which was unveiled in September 2020 in Kingsbury as part of the Brent Biennial – a series of projects for Brent Borough of Culture 2020.

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.

Read more about Studio Voltaire elsewhere: Dawn Mellor here.

About the artists

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 Nnena Kalu

Nnena Kalu (b. 1966, Glasgow) lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions include Nnena Kalu: Wapping, 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); and Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (2017).

About Dawn Mellor

Dawn Mellor (b. 1970, Manchester) has had numerous solo exhibitions in London, New York, Venice, and Brussels. Recent publications include Sirens by Dawn Mellor (Montez Press, 2019) and 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). Their 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; MoMA P.S.1, Long Island City, New York; and Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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.

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

Nnena Kalu, Studio Voltaire elsewhere, 2020, Commissioned by Studio Voltaire in partnership with ActionSpace, courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire, credit Francis Ware

Dawn Mellor, George Michael TV Outside, 2020, Photo: Benedict Johnson

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