The COVID-19 pandemic cast a dark cloud over already struggling, young artists. Thanks to a lack of affordable workspaces for artists in London, Studio Voltaire and the LOEWE FOUNDATION teamed up to cultivate an environment where artists could connect in the studio, facilitating creativity, risk taking, experimentation and exchange. Cue the LOEWE FOUNDATION / Studio Voltaire Award, announced earlier this year, which pledged to 'benefit seven artists with two years rent-free support through rent–free studio space, professional development opportunities and a bursary.'
Studio Voltaire is one of the UK’s leading not–for–profit arts organisations, while the LOEWE FOUNDATION was established as a private cultural foundation in 1988 by Enrique Loewe, a fourth–generation member of LOEWE’s founding family. Today, under the direction of his daughter Sheila Loewe, the Foundation continues to promote creativity, organise educational programmes and protect cultural heritage in the fields of craft, art, design, photography, poetry and dance. Ever since his appointment as creative director to the Spanish luxury fashion house in 2014, Jonathan Anderson has championed art, design and craftsmanship, having collaborated with numerous artists and artisans over the years.
Now, the results of the LOEWE FOUNDATION / Studio Voltaire Award are finally in. This year's winners are Ayo Akingbade, whose work is rooted in notions of urbanism, power and stance, Ufuoma Essi, who explores Black feminist epistemology and the configuration of displaced histories, Adam Farah, who focuses on the nuanced creative endeavours/potentials that emerge from 'endz,' sculptor and visual artist Nnena Kalu, Djofray Makumbu, who focuses on the shame and stigma of mental health difficulties and the pressures and violence of inner city life, Josiah Moktar, who captures queer encounters with a camera, and finally, Curtly Thomas, who creates narratives around myths and the transformational body.
'The process of receiving and reviewing the applications really surfaced how many artists are struggling to support their practice in the wake of the pandemic and due to structural inequalities within the sector and our wider communities,' said Maggie Matić, curator (studios & residencies) at Studio Voltaire. Each winner will receive a rent–free workspace within Studio Voltaire’s newly developed buildings in Clapham for two years, a bursary of £2,000, an individualised programme of mentoring and professional development, dedicated curatorial and pastoral support and access to local and international audiences via public events programming.
'We are at an incredibly difficult crossroads in the arts whereby artists, who are the creative lifeblood of the artistic landscape, are struggling to make work because they don’t have the space to do so. The calibre of creativity in London is incredible – we need to continue to invest in the development of artists in order to sustain vital and necessary space for art, artists and their communities,' said panelist Sepake Angiama, artistic director of Iniva.