Zoé Whitley

Director, Chisenhale Gallery

Please tell us about yourself

I am Director of Chisenhale Gallery in East London. As a non-profit visual arts institution, we work with artists over an 18  to 24-month period to commission and produce their most ambitious new works to date.

I live in Southeast London with my family and a small black cockapoo named Missy. (Yes, she’s named after the super-producer and phenom Missy Elliott).

What was your journey into the arts?

I was always interested in art. It was my favourite subject in school always; I never outgrew it nor was I discouraged from pursuing it. In high school, my first summer job was in an art club for primary school children, teaching painting and ceramics.  

While my parents and grandparents weren’t convinced that an art history degree could earn me a living, I’ve just about proved them wrong.

What inspires you?

Talking to artists, always.

Daily inspiration comes when taking my dog for a walk, laughing with friends and eating really good food

Why should people join CVAN London?

I’ve been in the non-profit arts sector for more than 20 years and it’s never been tougher than it has been these past four years. All those emails you read that start or end “now more than ever”?! – we’re all going through it so it does help not to go through it alone and feeling isolated.

What are your goals for CVAN London?

Improving my skillset and knowledge base by learning from peers

What is one piece of advice or learning that resonates with you right now as part of the AREVA Writers' Room?

The way things are isn’t the way they have to be

A favourite art moment in London:

Most recently, it was listening to Kurdish protest songs in an East London community centre, orchestrated by the incomparable Nil Yalter. 


Portrait of Zoe Whitley, woman, in a white shirt and black outfit against a blue sky