The Art Fund has announced that it is contributing £200,000 towards the UK's first permanent Rachel Whiteread commission at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in East London.
The work will cover the historic upper facade of the building (shown above left) in golden leaves, and will be unveiled on 1 June to coincide with the London 2012 Olympics (see: http://festival.london2012.com/events/9000961314 )
When the gallery was originally built in 1901 it was due to have a Walter Crane mosaic where the Rachel Whiteread commission will now be, but this didn't come about as it was judged too expensive and too big.
The Whiteread commission will fill a space 8 metres by 15 metres, with influences cited as the 'tree of life' motif which is already part of the building, the 'Hackney weed' Buddleia and the golden roof of the Secession building in Vienna. Whiteread decided that one of the things that makes buildings stand out is the use of gold.
Whiteread will also be casting four terracotta reliefs of existing gallery windows as a counterpoint to the gilded leaves.
Rachel Whiteread (b.1963) lives and works five minutes from the Whitechapel Gallery and has always had a special connection to East London. In probably still her most famous work, House, Whiteread cast the insides of a Victorian house in the East End. The work became a temporary sensation and provoked huge debate before it was knocked down in 1994. Whiteread also won the Turner Prize in 1993 (the first woman to do so) and was the third artist to exhibit on the Fourth Plinth in London in 2001.
To read the Art Fund's press release about the Whitechapel commission, visit: http://www.artfund.org/news/1287/whitechapel-announce-rachel-whiteread-commission
To read The Guardian's 9th February article, visit: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/feb/09/rachel-whiteread-whitechapel-gallery-frieze