As a key part of the London 2012 Festival, a decorative frieze will be unveiled in June, creating an artistic legacy and enhancing Whitechapel High Street.
Original plans for the Whitechapel Gallery, built in 1901, show it was to have a band of artwork around the outside of the building, but this was never realised. Now, some 100 years later, Rachel Whiteread's commission will complete the façade.
The work will reference the natural forms that can be found in cities, and incorporate clusters of gilded leaves and branches.
Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival Director Ruth Mackenzie said: ‘Our London 2012 Festival co-commission to Rachel Whiteread will finally give the Whitechapel Gallery the beautiful frieze planned since the building was conceived.
'It will give the legacy of a world-class piece free to the millions who travel down Whitechapel High Street.’
The work is British sculptor Whiteread’s first permanent public commission in the UK and draws inspiration from the decorative ‘Tree of Life’ motif to to celebrate the qualities of the existing architecture. The commission is enabled by the Art Fund, highlighting the charity’s ongoing support of contemporary art.
Rachel 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’.