Participation and Learning

Studio Voltaire’s participation and learning programme provides a platform for communities, artists and curators to meet, participate in conversation, research, learn and create new artwork.

Closely integrated with the Exhibitions Programme, our participation work aims to ensure that artistic approaches which privilege collaborative ways of working are given parity of platform both inside and outside of the gallery.

The ambitious range of projects, commissions, residencies and on-going relationships contribute to the cultural life of the city, and in particular to the local life of Clapham, exploring the role of culture in a wider context. We have developed a strong track record of commissioning projects with contemporary artists which collaborate with people, including: Juliet Jacques, Ashish, They Are Here, Monster Chetwynd, Ed Webb–Ingall and Rehana Zaman.

Studio Voltaire’s learning programme works in partnership with community groups, schools, universities and colleges to create tailor-made artist-led projects responding to local need, as well as delivering regular workshops, events and tours for thousands of people every year. We provide an alternative site for learning, for people of all ages, overcoming barriers that some people experience in formal education settings and we aim to be a welcoming, responsive and useful space, sharing resources, knowledge and expertise where we can.

If you are from a community, school or college and want to learn more about our programmes, please contact Laura Harford, Curator (Participation) on or 0207 622 1294.

Selected Past Projects

The Oscar Wilde Temple Artists' Group

Studio Voltaire collaborated with national LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity The Albert Kennedy Trust on a wide–reaching participation programme offering six months of workshops, events, mentoring and professional development for young people, in partnership with leading artists, writers and designers.

The Oscar Wilde Temple Artists’ Group was open to anyone aged 16-25 who identified as LGBTQ+. The group drew inspiration from the exhibition, The Oscar Wilde Temple, to explore queer and trans art, history and politics, collaborating with artists to make their own work. The group also took part in archive visits, events and workshops.

The Autumn programme (October–December 2018) was led by designer Ashish with artist Mark Amura to explore textiles, graphic design and print making, including badge making, cyanotype printing and marbling.

The Winter programme (February–April 2019) was hosted by writer and filmmaker Juliet Jacques with artist Virgil B/G Taylor to explore different forms of writing and its dissemination, including short stories, fiction and life writing, through performance and zine making.

The project was initiated on the occasion of the exhibition The Oscar Wilde Temple by McDermott and McGough (October 2018 – April 2019) and was supported by Mila Charitable Organisation.

Precarity Centre: SW4 7JR, Organised by They Are Here

If a former chapel is now a gallery, what might it become next? Artist collective They Are Here transformed Studio Voltaire into Precarity Centre – a social project offering free workshops and activities. Precarity Centre was an experiment in what a gallery can be and what might take place there.

Precarity Centre was an itinerant, conceptual framework for an interdisciplinary programme of talks, workshops and performances, exploring and mitigating against precarity.[1]

[1] Precarity is a precarious existence, lacking in predictability, job security, material or psychological welfare. The social class defined by this condition has been termed the precariat.

Precarity Centre was also an experiment in social space, seeding interaction between local precarious groups, the arts community and those who work in the public sector. The project echoed the multi–layered activities of community centres, which continue to suffer disinvestment across London and the wider UK. Precarity Centre was intended to be relevant to local concerns, whilst bridging diverse forms of inquiry and knowledge.

They Are Here stressed that this project was not a substitute for public services or organised campaigning to support public services. Flyers and literature advertising existing social support work was displayed on site, working with neighbourhood groups to amplify their activities.

All events were free, and welcomed all on a drop in basis.

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We have rather been invaded, Ed Webb-Ingall

In 2016, Studio Voltaire commissioned British filmmaker Ed Webb-Ingall to undertake a project which looked at the impact and legacy of Section 28, partnering with the British Film Institute and METRO.

Webb–Ingall worked with a group of 15 LGBTQ+ young people to collate visual and textual material and collaboratively produce a new film, in response to the invasion of a broadcast of the BBC Six O’Clock news by four lesbians protesting against Section 28 in 1988.

Their research delved into queer archives, graphic and typographic design as well as performance and writing exercises, in order to create visual manifestations and interpretations to further their understanding and interpretation of the 1988 protest act. The resulting film explores the invasion and its representation as a form of collective action against Section 28. Elements of the resulting film were presented at Studio Voltaire during Sharon Hayes’ exhibition In My Little Corner of the World, Anyone Would Love You, 15 April–5 June 2016.

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Not Our Class

From autumn 2011 to 2013, Studio Voltaire ran Not Our Class, a two-year pilot programme of educational and participatory projects, utilising both research and practice to investigate the legacy and potentials of the work of Jo Spence in relation to contemporary life and culture.

Through a series of commissions, offsite projects, workshops, public events and reading groups, situated within both Studio Voltaire’s neighbourhood and a wider contemporary art discourse, the programme explored the turn towards education and participation within contemporary art practice. Not Our Class had a multifarious span of activity, including new commissions by artists Marysia Lewandowska, working with the Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Rehana Zaman, working with King’s College Hospital and Body & Soul and the active participatory research group X Marks The Spot, originally based at Lambeth Women’s Project.

A series of workshops also took place between artist Conal McStravick and Intoart, and running parallel to all projects was a series of free reading groups, hosted in collaboration with Claire de Rouen Books and open to all.

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