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Ms Jo Volley
Slade School of Fine Art
Gower Street
Ms Jo Volley profile picture
  • Associate Professor
  • The Slade School of Fine Art
  • Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Born in Grimsby 1953, I studied as both graduate and undergraduate at the Slade 1972-1977 where I was awarded the Boise Travelling Scholarship to Italy. In 1986 I was appointed lecturer at the Slade and from 1989-2002 directed the Slade Summer School and the Affiliate Programme. I am currently Senior Lecturer on the graduate painting programme, Co-Director of The Material Research Project and Director of the Material Museum. 

Research Themes
Research Summary

My work is concerned with the interactions of measurement, space, light and colour and employs a wide range of material and medium including, pigment, mosaic, gold leaf, image transfer, wax, limestone and various printing processes. The work draws attention to the nature of archiving, historic materials and ideas of craftsmanship, incorporating traditional and contemporary techniques. It explores the relationship between the object and the subject of painting; the intervening space between the idea and the touch and the emotional separateness of making and the expanse of time between these events.

A great deal of my practice involves the investigation of methods and materials, mostly those that relate to painting, which are central to my practice and increasingly important in my teaching. I am interested in how the contemporary painter considers, believes or understands that knowledge of methods and materials is relevant to the creative process. A key part of my research creates situations that empower the practitioner by paying attention to the activity of making and reaffirming the understanding of craftsmanship and materials and their implications in aesthetic decision making. 

In 2003 I was invited to be Artist in Residence at the Usher Gallery, Lincoln and during this period I made a number of installation works, which were the beginning of an ongoing series of installations works entitled ‘The Journeyman Works’. These works deal with ideas of pictorial illusion in architectural spaces and incorporate ideas relating to the understanding and investigation of the painter’s craft. All works have an understated an metaphysical quality and their temporary nature is an important part of their process. This project led to the development in 2008 of a collaborative partnership Simson&Volley with Henrietta Simson, which includes the use of 2 & 3 dimensional works, projection and sound. In 2009 I was elected a brother of the Art Workers Guild. From 2012-16 I served on the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England Appointments Committee and since 2016 the Fabric Appointments Committee of Coventry Cathedral. Recently I completed The Pigment Timeline, a visual historical timeline of natural and manufactured colour made from 180 pigments, sequentially ordered chronologically as they emerge onto the artists’ palette from the Neolithic to the contemporary. I am currently working on a UCL CHIRP Small Research Grant – The Pigment Timeline Project with Dr Ruth Siddall and Gary Woodley.  Also a , Grand Challenges Sustainable Cities Small Grants, UCL, From Pigments to Solar Power, with Dr Hugo Bronstein, Dr Ruth Siddall and Onya McCausland. 

Teaching Summary

My experimental approaches to questioning how and why we engage with materials have been at the forefront of my teaching. In 2012 I jointly developed the Materials Research Project (MRP), which along with colleagues at the Slade, has led to the development of the MRP Mobile Workstation (with Gary Woodley), the Pigment Library and handmade Colour Charts. I am Principal Investigator on AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral project with artists’ suppliers Winsor & Newton, ‘The Materials Research Project: From Landscape to Colour’ (2013-2016). I was awarded the 2013 Provost’s Teaching Award for my work in highlighting the importance of material understanding to the processes of making. I am currently writing the Art School Guide to Material Practice, Vol.I Supports, Grounds & Surfaces.

Academic Background
1977   Higher Diploma in Fine Art University College London
1975   Diploma in Fine Art University College London
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