Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Design London; Iwona Blazwick Director of the Whitechapel Gallery

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

My Design London; Iwona Blazwick Director of the Whitechapel Gallery

Article excerpt

Byline: Liz Hoggard

CULTURAL HOTSPOT Go to Herald Street for the most intense concentration of galleries. There's Maureen Paley, right, Herald St gallery, the Campoli Presti gallery and five minutes up the road, the Wilkinson Gallery on Vyner Street, below. It's a fantastic little journey and then you can polish it off with a gin and tonic at the Approach Tavern (@approachtavern). I love the gallery there and they do barbecues.

DIRECTOR OF the Whitechapel Gallery for the past 15 years, Iwona Blazwick discovered Damien Hirst. As a young curator she gave him his first solo show at a public art gallery, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in St James's, in 1991. Then as director of exhibitions and displays at the Tate in the late Nineties, she played a vital role in the development of Tate Modern.

Next month, Whitechapel Gallery is curating Art Night, a programme of architecture, art, dance, design and music at sites around east London.

WHERE I LIVE I live off the Caledonian Road. Islington is up a hill, very urban, has elegant Georgian squares and big old Victorian houses. It is close to the Heath and, for my husband, near the Arsenal stadium. It's like an enclave away from the city. There was one Islington councillor who stopped any building over three storeys high -- he protected that whole area up from City Road to Holloway Road.

We have an 1890s Arts & Crafts house with marble fireplaces, wide stairwells and ceiling cornices.

MY DECOR I am an inveterate collector but a curator's salary only takes you so far, so I collect editions and works on paper. Every two years I call on a roving band of technicians who hang all the museums and galleries in London. They're all artists and musicians with an amazing eye and they conserve, frame and clean everything. They come to the house MOST COVETED OBJECT I would love to own a Barbara Hepworth. I'm very proud that the Whitechapel gave Hepworth her first show in 1962. I also really want a Green Light, right, by artist Olafur Eliasson. It's a sustainable LED lamp produced in a collaborative artistic workshop by refugees and visitors. The lamps can be ordered from for a minimum donation of ?250 (PS221).

for two days and we rehang everything. Most people get blind to what they see on their walls, so it's a way of reinvigorating your environment. You can hang works that resonate with what is happening in the world. And we have converted our attic to a proper art store with cedar wood to keep the moths away. It's my private heaven.

FAVOURITE GALLERY Camden Arts Centre (camden Tony Fretton Architects did the renovation and it's beautifully done. You immediately feel you are leaving the city with the old Arts & Crafts entrance and then there's that beautiful terrazzo space with one of the best independent art bookshops in Britain. It has a garden and a very nice cafe. The shows are always original, at a navigable scale, and it's risk-taking.

FAVOURITE MAKERS I love artists who work with communities to change their environments, especially in areas abandoned by politicians and developers.

Theaster Gates ( is an African-American artist who works with White Cube and he has devised what he calls The Soul Manufacturing Corporation, linking art, design and social engagement. …

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