The House ofVoltaire, a Christmas pop-up shop run by Studio Voltaire (one of London’s most dynamicindependent contemporary arts institutions), is destined for theLittle Black Book – cross-filed under Seasonal Delights, Unusual Presents, Artand Fun. For those who have yet to discover its festive charms, it is a greatplace to find gifts for tricky-to-buy-for culture vultures, as well as aneye-opening and curious exhibition in its own right.
StudioVoltaire is a creative engine room where artists (about 45 at one time) aregiven studio space to unleash their ideas and energy without constraint orlimitation. A fundamental springboard for many of the UK’s most innovativestars (including feminist performance artist Spartacus Chetwynd, nominated forthis year’s Turner Prize), it nurtures emerging talents at a pivotal stage intheir careers. The seasonal pop-up (Wednesday November 21 to Saturday December 15) supports theirendeavours. It sells works from £1 to £40,000 crafted by the studio’s celebrated alumniand supporting artists, while creative luminaries such as writers and curators manthe tills.
This year,shopkeepers include the actor James Franco, design critic Alice Rawsthorn, artspatron and collector Valeria Napoleone, model Lily Cole and culinary coupleFergus and Margot Henderson. 6a Architects has transformed an Edwardianstable in Mayfair for the event, and sale highlights include a pop-art silkscarf by Mark Titchner (first picture, £120), portfolio of four beautiful hand-tintedetchings of clocks with brightly coloured feathers by Pablo Bronstein (£1,600), beach towel by Julie Verhoeven (£75), jolly canvas tote by Jeremy Deller(second picture, £30) and bandana by artist/musician Linder and fashion designer Richard Nicoll (£80),following their sellout collaboration for House of Voltaire in the inauguralshow of 2010.
This is theplace to come for an unusual off-list Christmas shopping spree, where theunexpected is king and every purchase is more than just a present – it’s an actof cultural philanthropy.