Turner Prize winning artist to create frieze for the Whitechapel Gallery

London's Whitechapel Gallery is to finally receive decorative frieze for its historic facade after more than 100 years of waiting.

Just a short journey east for those staying in central London hotels to the borough of Tower Hamlets, the Whitechapel Gallery was built in 1901 and is one of the capital's best-loved exhibition spaces.

It frequently hosts exhibitions of top contemporary artists and major retrospectives. Previous exhibitions of note have included Picasso's Guernica – the only time the masterpiece has been shown in Britain – and the first major David Hockney retrospective.

When it was first constructed, initial plans for the building included a band of artwork around the facade, but this was never realised.

But it has now been announced that renowned Turner Prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread is to create a decorative frieze for the building, which will be erected in June this year – 111 years later than planned.

The artwork will feature gilded clusters of leaves and branches reflecting the Tree of Life motif which is already on the property and drawing inspiration from the flora commonly found in the city.

Ms Whiteread said: "Having lived in this area of London for so long I feel very connected to the Whitechapel Gallery and I hope my work will have a positive and lasting impact for the area and communities here."

A London native, Ms Whitehead is best known for her sculptures, which are typically created using casts and moulds.

She won the Turner Prize in 1993 – the first woman to do so – for her work House – a concrete cast of the inside of an entire Victorian terraced house.

Iwona Blazwick, director of the Whitechapel Gallery, said it was "truly fitting" to have Ms Whiteread create the frieze.

"Having lived near the gallery for 25 years it's wonderful that Rachel's work will become part of the fabric of the building for future generations to enjoy," she said.

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