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Studio Voltaire

Phyllida Barlow sculpture to pop up in partially ruined, gothic chapel in London cemetery

Studio Voltaire’s ambitious off-site programme also includes commissions by Monster Chetwynd and Dawn Mellor

Phyllida Barlow's work will be in the central Anglican Chapel, built in 1844, which is open to the elements Courtesy of Studio Voltaire

The UK sculptor Phyllida Barlow will unveil an ambitious new installation at Nunhead Cemetery, an overgrown Victorian site, in south-east London next year as part of an off-site programme of commissions launched by the non-profit arts organisation Studio Voltaire. The elsewhere series of exhibitions in unusual locations takes place while the organisation’s Clapham base closes for redevelopment.

Studio Voltaire’s director Joe Scotland said at a press briefing that “we can work in some really exciting and unusual locations across London. We have a really important relationship with Phyllida who will show her work in the central Anglican Chapel [a gothic structure built in 1844] which is open to the elements.” Barlow, who represented the UK at the 2017 Venice Biennale, is known for her large-scale, imposing installations; her work BLUFF was presented by Studio Voltaire in 2010.

Meanwhile, the artist Monster Chetwynd will lead "a special performance project" next July that "will take place across multiple sites in Clapham, exploring the area’s rich history and well-established connections to dissent and non-conformism”, a project statement says. Next May, Dawn Mellor will launch a permanent piece in the north-west borough of Brent; the Manchester-born artist paints portraits of celebrities drawing from magazines, films and the internet. A new solo commission by Glasgow-born Nnena Kalu, organised in partnership with Action Space which supports artists with disabilities, will be presented in a space on Cork Street, Mayfair.

At a press briefing, Studio Voltaire’s chair and Frieze director Victoria Siddall, announced further details regarding the redevelopment of the charity’s building, scheduled for completion October next year. Siddall said that the Clapham-based venue has “always been a studio building for artists; not everyone knows the building [behind the gallery] houses artists’ studios”.

Kirsten Dunne, the senior manager in cultural infrastructure at the Mayor of London’s office, pointed out that there is a risk of losing 24% of London’s studio space over the next few years. Crucially, the refurbishment project, overseen by the London-based architects Matheson Whiteley, will create 42% more artists’ studios—providing spaces for more than 75 artists—along with a new Studio Events space for talks and performances. There will also be a new entrance via a courtyard garden. More than £2m has so far been raised towards the total £2.4m project cost.