A Gal and her Gallery synopsis

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

Chili travelled the world, experienced shamanistic rites and, for a time, became a cattle rancher in the extreme outback of Australia.  At 48 she said to herself that that was enough of the ‘wild’ life and she focused on raising the gallery’s standards.

Chili and her artistic director, Elisabeth Lalouschek  put on 8 shows a year. They have represented over 80 countries including Japan, China, Mongolia, Tibet and, especially, West Africa.

Elisabeth Lalouschek with an El Anatsui cloth Elisabeth Lalouschek

Chili learnt Arabic and went with Algerian artist Rachid Koraichi to Temacine deep in the Sahara desert. One decision was that the artists themselves would always be present and they usually stayed in the gallery. To meet the artists was a unique feature that always impressed gallery visitors and potential buyers.

Rashid in galleryRachid Koraichi in the October Gallery

 Romuald Hazoume Romuald Hazoume2

By 2005, their efforts began to be recognized internationally. The exceptional installations of Romuald Hazoume from Benin won the main prize at Documenta in Germany and his ‘slave ship’ of oil drum ‘faces` was featured at the British Museum.  The huge colorful cloths made of metal bottle-tops by El Anatsui from Ghana are now hanging in the Metropolitan in New York – and elsewhere across the USA.  This year a young artist from Northern Queensland is arriving and hopes are high that she will sell well.

Samantha Hobson Samantha Hobson 

The film is bright with these artists, their art and their stories.  It offers some insight into the hard work, determination and sheer guts that goes into bringing relatively unknown artists into the London art scene and in creating a much admired and frankly unique Gallery. 

  Mostly Movies 2008        Chili in Old Gloucester StreetThe Gal and her Gallery

This 60 minute documentary film has already won an award for best International Documentary at the South Africa International Film Festival and will be screened at the Waterford Film Festival, Ireland in November.

  DVDs are available from the October Gallery or from Mostly Movies Ltd.

For further information, please contact: scj@mostlymovies.co.uk