Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery, Iwona Blazwick OBE on recognising and supporting pioneering female artists

Whitechapel Gallery

Iwona Blazwick OBE is is an art critic, lecturer and she has been Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London since 2001. She studied English and Fine Art at Exeter University before becoming an assistant curator at the Institute of Contemporary Arts – her first exhibition was, Objects and Sculpture (1981), which included work by artist Antony Gormley. She is Chair of the Cultural Strategy Group at London’s City Hall and she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to art in the 2008 New Year Honours.

Iwona Blazwick

Iwona Blazwick OBE

Corin Sworn is the fifth winner of the prestigious Max Mara Art Prize for Women, which is a biannual award established in 2005. It is the only visual art prize for women in the UK and aims to promote and nurture female artists, enabling them to develop their potential with the gift of time and space. The Whitechapel Gallery presents a major exhibition by Glasgow-based Corin, which runs from Wednesday 20th May to Sunday 19th July.

We [were] delighted to award Corin Sworn the Max Mara Art Prize for Women in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery. She is a vivid storyteller and the judges were swept away by her proposal inspired by the 16th century Italian Commedia dell’Arte travelling theatre troupes woven together with oral histories.

Pioneering women

Corin Sworn

Corin Sworn

The Whitechapel Gallery has pioneered women artists from Frida Kahlo to Sarah Lucas and we are proud to add Corin Sworn to our history.

For the fifth edition of the Prize we are presenting the culmination of Corin Sworn’s research from her residency, which gave her an opportunity to sample the culture and fascinating history of theatre in Italy.

Complex impact on contemporary culture

Sworn’s thorough exploration of la commedia and its complex impact on contemporary culture is original and fascinating. Her sensitive eye and intelligent interpretation of theatrical devices and scenography has been transformed into an arrest and complex visual installation, which will take us on a memorable journey.

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