Whitechapel Gallery appoints new director

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Whitechapel Gallery
Whitechapel Gallery

Curator and writer, Gilane Tawadros, has been appointed the new Director of Whitechapel Gallery, London.

Tawadros will be Whitechapel Gallery’s 10th Director, and her appointment follows Iwona Blazwick’s decision to step down as Director after 20 years, in April 2022.

Tawadros is currently Chief Executive of DACS, a not-for-profit visual artists‘ rights management organisation, and previously founding Director of the Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva). Tawadros will take up her post in October 2022.

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Gilane Tawadros

Dr David Dibosa, Chair of Whitechapel Gallery Trustees, said: “I am overjoyed that Gilane Tawadros will lead Whitechapel Gallery in the next stage of its history.

Gilane has a compelling vision and brings decades of experience to help make this a reality. She believes in the role of art in society and knows how to equip institutions to play their part. Throughout her career, Gilane has remained committed to artists alongside all those who help to bring their work into public view.

The unanimity of support for our new Director gives me every confidence that Gilane Tawadros will bring our hopes to fruition, and build on the extraordinary achievements of Iwona Blazwick, who steps down after more than twenty years of leadership”.

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Tawadros said: “As a passionate advocate for the critical value of art and artists to everyone in society, I am thrilled to have this opportunity to lead one of the world’s most pioneering cultural institutions.

I look forward to working in close collaboration with Whitechapel Gallery’s Board and team, artists, and communities in east London, across the country and the globe, to shape a future for the Gallery that is bravely responsive to the pressing socio-political and environmental context of our time. Cultural diversity, access and inclusivity are abiding concerns for me that underpin a desire to make contemporary art and the art gallery central to all our lives”.

Tawadros has more than 30 years’ experience in the visual arts, having begun her career in gallery education, establishing the first education programmes at the Hayward Gallery in the 1990s.

In 2008, she pursued postgraduate research in human rights at Birkbeck College, University of London, exploring questions of rights and representation in the work of contemporary artists. She is a founding Trustee and Chair of the Stuart Hall Foundation (2015 – present), an organisation committed to public education, addressing urgent questions of race and inequality in culture and society through its public programme and by providing opportunities for activism and intellectual inquiry amongst artists, scholars, and activists from under-represented groups.

As founding Director (1994 – 2005) of the Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva), Tawadros championed the work of British and international artists of different generations and cultural backgrounds and mapped out the agenda for a new institution that took risks and broke with conventional models. Engaging with questions of nationhood, difference and globalisation, Iniva is recognised as a pioneering institution, anticipating new trends and models of working, engaging broad and diverse audiences nationally and internationally.

The Art360 Foundation, a charity Tawadros established in 2014, is dedicated to supporting the archives and legacies of both emerging and established artists for the benefit of future generations and has attracted substantial funding and support from Arts Council England, Art Fund, The National Archives, the Henry Moore Foundation and The National Lottery Heritage Fund, as well as the support of a wide range of artists and estates.

Featured image by Guy Montagu Pollock at Arcaid, Courtesy Whitechapel Gallery

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