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New to the UK: A classical art form moves into contemporary interiors

01st December 2015

Guardians of the virtually lost craft of hand painted canvas ceilings, Volta takes this traditional decorative art into contemporary interiors.

First seen in classical Greece, painting scenes on fabric became an increasingly refined art, direct ancestor of the illusionist ceilings of Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo times.

In London, Inigo Jones famously commissioned Rubens to produce a series of astonishing ceiling canvases for Banqueting House in Whitehall. Painted in Ruben’s Antwerp studio in 1635, the central panel alone measures fifty eight square metres.

In the theatre too, painted canvas has always been a medium of magical illusion. As a bespoke art form, it has dazzling potential for both traditional and modern ceilings.

Volta is a craft collaboration between two high-profile Belgian artists, Eddy Dankers and Thierry Thenaers. Eddy’s family have been artists since the 17th Century and he is a Royal Warrant holder to the Belgian court. Thierry is a renowned master painter, operatic set designer and interior designer. Individually, both have worked on many of Europe’s historic buildings, including the restoration of Versailles.

Inheritors and developers of the art of painted canvas ceilings, Thierry and Eddy set up Volta as an international interiors brand and their teams work all over the world. Using old and new techniques and technologies and a group of extraordinarily talented artists, they can create anything from a perfect facsimile of a Baroque masterpiece to a dazzling ultra-modern trompe l’oeil ceiling. Although they have moved ceiling painting into the 21st Century, Thierry and Eddy are highly eco-sensitive; working on natural linen canvas, using natural casein paints, and sharing a passion for authentic plant and mineral-pigmented colour. 

It is only in Belgium that linen is still seamlessly woven in the enormous widths and lengths of canvas which important projects can demand; up to 12 x 100 m in a single piece. Painting ceilings on finely woven linen has many advantages over murals painted direct on the ceiling. The entire installation can be painted in the studio and because they are not having to work above their heads, the artists can produce finer and more detailed work. No scaffolding is required on site: The ceiling is delivered as a single finished piece to its destination and simply glued in place. Linen ceilings have another big advantage in being unaffected by cracks and settlement which so often damage decorated plaster ceilings.

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