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  1. Impact Philanthropy
February 7, 2012

Hilary Weston and Iwona Blazwick of the Whitechapel Gallery on philanthropy

By Spear's

THE GIVER AND THE GIFT: For the Gator Good

Philanthropist Hilary Weston and gallery director Iwona Blazwick tell Sophie McBain about the artistic alliance that’s bringing a little East End grit to a beachfront community in sunny Florida
HILARY WESTON (pictured below)
der, Windsor Florida
I have a long history of involvement in philanthropy, having worked with our family foundation, the W Garfield Weston Foundation, for over 40 years. In all our businesses there’s a desire to give back to the community that we live in and to provide there.

My husband and I have created a community in Southern Florida called Windsor — it’s near the beach and we describe it as a ‘village by the sea’. No community is truly alive without culture, especially without art, so about ten years ago we started an art gallery there. Since then, we’ve worked with different organisations to put on serious exhibitions. We’re extremely happy to be working with Whitechapel Gallery, as it isn’t just an outstanding arts organisation, it’s also a registered charity that works closely with young people and schools. The partnership puts funds into Whitechapel Gallery’s education programmes, meaning a new generation can learn to love and appreciate art and culture.

Iwona Blazwick of Whitechapel Gallery is married to a Canadian, so with that connection we immediately had common ground. I invited her to Windsor to see the gallery and the surroundings, and we decided that this would be the perfect place to host Whitechapel’s exhibitions, especially as many of the people who live in Windsor are in the art world and have extraordinary personal collections and homes all across America.

Whitechapel and the Gallery at Windsor are both not-for-profit galleries and we’re both on the same page in that we value the communities we live in and want to give back to them.

Whitechapel has given excellent opportunities to American artists and has always been at the cutting edge of new art. Iwona has a totally global perspective and she’s incredibly inventive at gathering exhibitions together and pushing boundaries, which really attracted us.
IWONA BLAZWICK (pictured below)
Director, Whitechapel Gallery

The Whitechapel Gallery at Windsor initiative is enabling the gallery to put on an exhibition while making a significant donation to the Whitechapel Gallery’s internationally renowned exhibitions programme and our important education work.

The Whitechapel Gallery inspires successive generations of artists. We pioneered gallery education and community outreach and believe that art has the power to transform the lives of children and young people. Leading artists work with those who have the greatest need for opportunity, and their art is celebrated in our dedicated public education galleries.

Every major British artist will have their premiere here. We’re a Kunsthalle, which means we don’t collect art and we’re registered as an educational charity, so our aim is really to present to the public work we think has significance in the Contemporary art field.

One of the things about being a director of a gallery is that you do less and less curating as your time is taken up with fundraising and organising. This is why curating an exhibition in Florida and the partnership with Windsor is even more interesting.

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The other thing about Florida is that it’s a link between North and South America, which means it’s a great place for us to be visible. The project coincides with Art Basel Miami Beach, so it’s a time when collectors, curators and artists are assembling from all over the world. The timing’s really crucial: we’re hoping it will raise our profile there and we can start dialogue with colleagues in that part of the world and especially in Latin America.

I chose to open with Beatriz Milhazes, who is one of the most exciting painters coming out of Brazil today. We’re thinking of the exhibitions generationally, with the first show featuring someone who’s really emerging on the world stage, the second a more established figure and the third more of an iconic figure, someone from an older generation of artists who we think exerts influence on younger artists.

Hilary Weston is a great fan of literature and poetry, so in future years we might have a poet or a writer join our exhibitions so we can reflect some of the inter-disciplinarity that we’re seeing in the art world.
  Maitland supports the Giver and the Gift
Hilary Weston photograph by Chris Nicholls Photography
Sophie McBain is Spear’s staff writer

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