To coincide with the Xmas shopping season, London’s contemporary art organisation STUDIO VOLTAIRE has opened its temporary shop HOUSE OF VOLTAIRE again, this time at 17a Adam’s Row in Mayfair. In the high-ceilinged space, artworks including those from ROSEMARIE TROCKEL, TACITA DEAN and MARK TITCHNER cram the walls alongside free-standing tables packed with affordable one-off pieces by RICHARD NICOLL, JULIE VERHOEVEN, MARTINO GAMPER, RYAN McGINLEY, WOLFGANG TILLMANS and many other amazing friends of STUDIO VOLTAIRE. During the pop-up shop’s brief tenure (it closes on December 15), notable members of the STUDIO’s committee will be working on the shop floor. This includes the sublime actor Mr. RUSSELL TOVEY, whom we spoke to at the HOUSE’s opening earlier this week.
We: Have you ever worked in a shop before HOUSE OF VOLTAIRE?
Russell: I worked in CLARKS shoe shop while I was in college. That was when I was 16. I worked there because we used to get 70 per cent off shoes, and I really wanted the CLARKS WALLABEES that NOEL GALLAGHER wore.
Which branch of CLARKS was that?
Romford, in Essex. I enjoyed it.
So you were selling ladies, men, and children’s shoes?
I didn’t do kids. You had to be specially trained in that, ’cause they had a foot-measuring machine. With older women especially I would be able to sell them a pair of shoes and the matching handbag. I used to get commission on handbags; a pound a bag. I can sell handbags to anyone. Male or female! (laughs)
So is this your first time as a shop assistant since then?
Well, STUDIO VOLTAIRE did a similar shop a couple of years ago on Bruton Place, just behind the MARGIELA shop in Mayfair.
What did you enjoy about working in the shop?
Just being around the art, really. I did it with my friend ROB DIAMENT, who’s the director of CARL FREEDMAN GALLERY. He’s sort a salesperson anyway, so he knows what he’s talking about. I just walked around and chatted to people, and looked at things for myself (laughs). He was the more ruthless seller, and I was smiley.
Do you greet people as they come in the shop?
Yes, of course.
What’s your favourite piece in the shop this season?
I’m still looking round, but there’s a MICHAEL DEAN sculpture upstairs that I really like.
What do you like about that one?
I like MICHAEL DEAN’s use of material. He uses a lot of concrete mouldings and castings. He creates objects that lean up against walls that kind of spell words, but they’re in cement, and you can never tell what the word is.