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The Buck stopped here

The Buck stopped here is a weekly blog by our contemporary art correspondent Louisa Buck covering the hottest events and must-see exhibitions in London and beyond

House of Voltaire's naked Christmas tree brings new meaning to a 'festive bush'

Mother Christmas Louisa Buck and the Neo-Naturists at House of Voltaire © Dafydd Jones

Christmas came early last night at the House of Voltaire in Cork Street, where a special festive evening was held to mark the unveiling of their Christmas tree by the legendary performance trio the Neo Naturists. Not only did they create a plethora of specially painted baubles for a tree in Studio Voltaire’s pop-up shop, they also employed their formidable body painting skills to transform themselves into three green glittering human Christmas trees, complete with painted foliage and decorations galore. An evening of amiable anarchy then ensued, with your correspondent serving as guest-shopkeeper in the guise of Mother Christmas, assisted by the Tate curator Linsey Young and the artist Julie Verhoeven who were decked out as nattily clad elves.

Neo Naturists streaking in Mayfair last night © Dafydd Jones

The Neo Naturists are no strangers to Cork Street, having famously gatecrashed a party hosted by the Cork Street galleries back in 1984. Last night, they once again made a resplendent exhibition of themselves, braving the cold to treat passers-by to unexpected flashes of their elaborately embellished bodies. Back inside the packed House of Voltaire, the naked tree goddesses—the sisters Christine and Jennifer Binnie and Wilma Johnson—linked arms to become a single tree made of flesh. A ritual of decoration then ensued, led by Mother Christmas and her elves piling tinsel onto every available painted body part. Everyone then enjoyed a rousing seasonal singalong with the legendary post-punk band The Raincoats. Its lead singer Gina Birch has also contributed to the House of Voltaire merchandise by offering some of her painted dresses for sale. The tills rang, mulled wine was quaffed and much merriment was had by all. And this is just the beginning. The House of Voltaire are selling their plethora of custom-made art goodies, seasonal and otherwise at 31 Cork Street right up until 22 December.