Past the foyer of artist editions - an impressive list of luminaries donating to the cause - Studio Voltaire’s main exhibition area, a repurposed Methodist church, is a roomy, light and airy space, it’s church-remainders - large windows, high roofed ceiling, black beams - add an impressionable influence on anything presented within its four walls. A ‘not-for-profit’ Arts Council England NPO, commissioning large-scale exhibitions, a handful a year, and operating a number of revenue-generating schemes (for example, the aforementioned editions, and their biennial temporary Christmas shop, House of Voltaire), Studio Voltaire still retains, a little tenuously, it’s definition as ‘artist-led’.
Aaron Angell’s show, Grotwork, commissioned by Studio Voltaire (supported by The Henry Moore Foundation, and the Arbroath-based Hospitalfield Arts), comprises a selection of Angell’s now trademark ceramics and reverse-painted glass, and more novel additions, cork sculptures, some large steel work, and knitted fabric designs. His ceramic work, in particular, walks a fine-line between an unskilled amateur-vernacular that sits outside of the mediums craft-traditions, and an all too knowing performed-naivety, belied by his caring glaze-work. Here though, perhaps through producing pieces on a larger scale, or just refining the specifics of that vernacular, you can revel in its detail, images, and thus nexus of ideas the work dances around. Via a relatively modest seduction, I felt enticed into the work’s world, and the almost visible threads of thought infusing it, the worlds it inhabits. A whole series of interconnecting and yet distinct motifs play across the surfaces of the various mediums within the space: eggs, snakes, mould, the Cherhill chalk horse, flowers, chimneys and that humble fibre-vehicle: sliced-bread.