A Gal and her Gallery

The story of a remarkable woman, Chili Hawes, director of the October Gallery, and of how, with a team of artists and friends, she rescued a derelict building in London and turned it into a world renowned, pioneering gallery of contemporary cutting edge work of extraordinary artists from around the globe.


A Gal and her Gallery trailer

1 minute trailer for 60 minute documentary

A Gal and her Gallery synopsis

Romuald Hazoume2


Chili Hawes was born in Grand Junction Colorado. Unusually for a mountain girl, she studied medieval French literature.  While at the Sorbonne in France she ‘discovered’ art in the museums and galleries of Paris. 

               Chili Hawes  Chili with AWphoto by Gonsalo Arcila


 In the 1960’s back in the States Chili helped build adobe mud houses, a geodesic dome and later, a ferro-cement ship which was to bring her back to Europe.  She renovated a derelict Victorian schoolhouse near the British Museum in London. This became her home and ‘her’ gallery. 

Chili Hawes in the October GalleryThe October Gallery with a Kenji Yoshida exhibition

The October Gallery opened in 1978 with western avant-garde art and was the first to show the visual art of writer William Burroughs.  But Chili decided to feature artists from the ‘non-western’ avant-garde.  Aubrey Williams from Guyana was followed into the gallery by artists from Africa, Mexico, the Amazon rainforest, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Aborigine Australia. 

Chili with art from Fiji Chili & Fiji painting The Red Wave Collective

A Gal and Her Gallery – featured artists in order of appearance

A Gal and Her Gallery – featured artists in order of appearance

El Anatsui – renowned West African sculptor, Professor of Sculpture at the University of Nigeria at Nsukka.  His first one-man show outside Africa was at the October Gallery in 1995.  He has since gone to exhibit around the world. In 2007 he earned a prestigious place in the International Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and sold his magnificent metal clothes to major museums and collectors including the British Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Aubrey Williams – the first Caribbean artist to make his name in Britain, championed by the October Gallery even after his death in 1990.  His extraordinary Shostakovich series was bought by the Royal Festival Hall, his Olmec-Maya series featured in a recent show at Tate Britain who also held a one-day seminar on his work.

Kenji Yoshida – Japanese painter living in Paris. Born in 1924 he studied art under the great Hayashi Kiyoshi but with the onset of World War 2 was selected for training as a Kami-kaze pilot.  He survived the war by a lucky fluke and dedicated his life to art. His search for purity of form have led to an elemental series of circles in silver and gold leaf. Meditative works all of which have the title “Life”.


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