Style | The Aesthete

Iwona Blazwick talks personal style: Part One

Iwona Blazwick is director of the Whitechapel Gallery, whose Future Fund aims to raise a permanent endowment of £10m by 2020.

February 14 2012
Emma Crichton-Miller

My personal style signifier is my Sparrows & Clock ring, which I bought at a shop called Rokit on Brick Lane. It’s so unusual, with two birds that look like they are feeding on a sundial. 101 Brick Lane, London E1 (020-7375 3864; www.rokit.co.uk).

The last thing I bought and loved was a beautiful edition by Andrea Büttner, who was the winner of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, which we co-present. She has made the most exquisite series of woodblock prints based around her time spent in Italy, where she saw the Giotto frescos in Assisi. The piece I bought is this huge, beautiful print of a table with fruit on it. Sadly, curators aren’t massively well-paid, so my limit is editions; I always try to buy one of the editions that the Whitechapel produces.

The thing I am eyeing next will probably be another edition, photography this time, by Zarina Bhimji, a photographer who is a bit under the radar. She’s producing something from a journey she took to Zanzibar, where she was exploring the origins of her own family. They went from India to Uganda and then were kicked out by Idi Amin, ending up in Britain. She’s looking at how they went from their roots in India to Africa. £250; www.whitechapelgallery.org.

The people I rely on for grooming and style are at The Hair Gallery on the Caledonian Road, where I have been going for the past 15 years. 34 Caledonian Road, London N1 (020-7278 2617).

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I would choose a village, actually: Greve in Chianti, Italy. It has everything, including a Saturday market with clothing, which is a bit dodgy, but the quality of the food is something that you would not find anywhere else in the world. And there is the best butcher ever, Dario Cecchini, in nearby Panzano in Chianti. It’s absolutely fantastic. Via XX Luglio 11, Panzano in Chianti (+39055-852 020; www.dariocecchini.com).

A recent “find” is a personal-shopping service run by Hannah Holloway, a former colleague, who has now joined her parents’ business, Maze. I never get time to go shopping, so she comes up with a whole selection of clothing. Maze has shops in Taunton, Bristol and Bath – not places you would think of as the coolest in England. She comes up to town every season, I march up and down in the samples she has brought and it has been a 100-per-cent success so far. 01823-254 704; www.mazeclothing.co.uk.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could would be someone quite outside my sphere, such as the great Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbarán.

The beauty staple I am never without is my Mac lipstick – Verve. That’s it really. £13.50; www.maccosmetics.co.uk.

The last music I downloaded was the album Last Days of Meaning by Nitin Sawhney. I love the radio station ChillFM, and I find almost everything they play very powerful. This is an album they have been featuring recently, which I think is fantastic. www.chillfmradio.com. www.nitinsawhney.com.

In my fridge you will always find a tub of hummus for my daughter and my husband, and then a great hunk of lard, because it makes anything taste divine.

The best gift I’ve given recently is a David Shrigley book, What the Hell are You Doing?: The Essential David Shrigley, which is so funny it made me laugh out loud in the shop. I bought it for a friend who has a very wry outlook on life.

And the best one I’ve received recently is a beautiful Osprey wallet my husband bought me, which was promptly stolen, and I am waiting to get my new one. It is – was! – the perfect wallet: black leather, lined, the ideal shape, with compartments for different currencies. £95; www.ospreylondon.com.

My favourite websites are the BBC – though for my news I read newspapers, or listen to Radio 4 – and the Tate’s site, which is obviously very good if you want information about artists. www.bbc.co.uk. www.tate.org.uk.