London arts venue Studio Voltaire reopens after revamp - Museums Association

London arts venue Studio Voltaire reopens after revamp

Organisation champions emerging and underrepresented artists
Profile image for Simon Stephens
Simon Stephens
William Scott exhibition at Studio Voltaire, London
William Scott exhibition at Studio Voltaire, London Photo Mark Blower

Artist-designed toilets and garden, a Queer Care Camp and works inside and outside the gallery by Californian-based William Scott are among the things on offer at the redeveloped Studio Voltaire in south London. 

The not-for-profit arts organisation reopens on 15 October following a £2.8m revamp that has hugely increased the space available for artists and the public.

The main gallery, which is in a Victorian former mission hall, is showing the first significant survey of Scott’s work. It features 70 paintings, drawings and sculptures, from the early 1990s to present, and is accompanied by large–scale installations at sites around Clapham.

Visitors arriving at Studio Voltaire are greeted by a garden created by local artist Anthea Hamilton, who was inspired by vernacular gardens of south London. The planting scheme combines ornamental flowers and shrubs with edible plants.

Inside the gallery there is another commission – The Institute For The Magical Effect Of Actually Giving A Shit (A Note to Our Future Self). This has been created by Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan, and their first permanent commission can be seen across Studio Voltaire’s public toilets.

Joanne Tatham & Tom O'Sullivan, The Institute For The Magical Effect Of Actually Giving A Shit (A Note to Our Future Self). A Studio Voltaire commission – image courtesy of the artists and The Modern Institute Toby Webster

Queer Care Camp, which runs until 25 October, is a space for LGBTQIA+ creatives and their allies to share resources and ideas. This runs until 25 October and is being hosted in The Studio – a dedicated learning and events area that has its own garden.


More than 60 artists are now based at the venue, including ActionSpace, which supports artists with learning disabilities.

“The Studio Voltaire Capital Project has been the biggest undertaking in the history of our organisation,” said Studio Voltaire director Joe Scotland. “We are thrilled to have completed it and are so excited to welcome audiences to our new buildings.

“Studio Voltaire is committed to supporting artists and this significant and timely transformation enables us to do this at a greatly increased scale.”

Studio Voltaire, an Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation, was established 27 years again and has a mission to champion emerging and underrepresented artists and practices, with an emphasis risk–taking and experimentation.

The redevelopment has been designed by Matheson Whiteley, and is the London–based architect’s first public project in the UK.

“Studio Voltaire supports a wide range of art activities and important practices,” said Jason Whiteley, a director at Matheson Whiteley. “We wanted to make these activities more visible by providing new and better spaces for artists, visitors and the wider community.


“There were a lot of things that needed repairing and replacing, and every time we did some work, we wanted to add something to Studio Voltaire. It was trying to be effective with the money that we had to spend – there were lots of sustainability and efficiency ideas.

“And the degree of collaboration with the contractors made many more things possible than a standard construction method.”

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