Sussex Art History graduate appointed Director of Whitechapel Gallery, London
Posted on behalf of: School of Media, Arts and Humanities
Last updated: Wednesday, 18 May 2022
Curator, writer, and Sussex Art History graduate, Gilane Tawadros, has been appointed the new Director of Whitechapel Gallery, London, one of the country’s leading art spaces.
Gilane studied for a BA and MA in Art History at Sussex in the mid-1980s before embarking on a career in gallery education, establishing the first education programmes at the Hayward Gallery in the 1990s. In 2008-9, she pursued postgraduate research at Birkbeck College, University of London in human rights, 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.
Gilane became Chief Executive of DACS in 2009, where she has been an ambassador and advocate on behalf of 180,000 artists and estates, engaging politicians, policy makers and the wider public in a deeper understanding of the value of artists to British culture and society. In 2014 she established The Art360 Foundation, a charity dedicated to supporting the archives and legacies of both emerging and established artists for the benefit of future generations which 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.
Gilane has curated a number of exhibitions nationally and internationally, and written and edited several books. An anthology of her writings, The Sphinx Contemplating Napoleon: Global Perspectives on Contemporary Art and Difference was published by Bloomsbury in 2021.
Speaking to the Guardian, Gilane added that it was a “very particular moment” for cultural institutions because of “the climate crisis, what’s happening in Ukraine, but also what seems like deepening social and political divides.
“It’s an opportunity to think and reflect on what’s going on in the world, as well as to be inspired. We’ve just been through a massive pandemic, and we will bear the scars of that. Many of us during the pandemic turned to music, art, literature and film and realised how important those things are. The question of the role of arts and culture is a really important one.”
This topic is something Gilane will cover when she returns to the Sussex campus on Thursday 26 May as part of a panel aimed at unpacking the idea of a so-called ‘cultural recovery’ in the final partnership event between the Sussex Festival of Ideas and Brighton Festival. Gilane will join Eliane Glaser, author of Elites: A Progressive Defence, and Professor Kate O’Riordan, Dean of the School of Media, Arts and Humanities, and Co-Chair of ABCD for Cultural Recovery in Brighton & Hove. Tickets still available – find out more.