Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art

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Template:Infobox Museum Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art is an educational charity and a not-for-profit contemporary art gallery based in London. Established in 2005, the foundation is housed in a converted warehouse over two floors in a building that was renovated to a design concept by the Italian architect, Claudio Silvestrin. The gallery comprises roughly 5,000 sq ft (460 m2) of exhibition space.

Parasol unit was established by its Director/Curator, Ziba Ardalan. A graduate in the History of Art from Columbia University New York, Ardalan worked as Guest Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She guest curated the exhibition 'Winslow Homer and the New England Coast' at the Whitney's Stamford, Ct. Branch (1984). Ardalan became the first Director/Curator of New York City’s Swiss Institute in 1987, before moving to Zurich, Switzerland, and then relocating to UK and founding Parasol unit. She has curated numerous exhibitions and has also lectured and written about art. Prior to her career in art, Ardalan obtained a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry.


Parasol unit is devoted to promoting contemporary art for the benefit of the public. The exhibition programme comprises work by emerging and contemporary artists in a variety of media: sculpture, painting, installation, video and photography. The institution was developed on the model of a Kunsthalle, with no permanent collection.

Each exhibition is supported by a programme of educational events that engage with the public and local community. Exhibitions are also accompanied by a new publication, an artist’s monograph or catalogue, which is distributed worldwide.


Parasol unit, like publicly funded institutions in London continuously strives to raise funds to cover its running costs and hopes to secure its existence for future generations. The one-time donation by the founder is a reserve that allows the foundation to operate while other funding sources are identified. The reserve currently covers about 60% of the foundation's operating expenses whereas the remaining 40% are financed through Gift Aid scheme, grants from charitable organisations, private donations and sales of merchandise. These have included Arts Council England, Pro Helvetia, Japan Foundation, The French Institute (London), The Goethe Institute (London), The Austrian Cultural Forum (London), Henry Moore Foundation, Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Portuguese Embassy and Australian Embassy, Tower Hamlets Council. Additional funding has been provided by private companies including Dataton, Deutsche Bank, Gallagher Limited, Goldman Sachs, Key Capital and Schroders.

The gallery space is privately owned and has been put at the disposal of the foundation at no charge.


Every year the foundation organises four challenging and thought-provoking exhibitions of works by international contemporary artists working in various media. Parasol unit has introduced a host of international artists to London’s public and has been instrumental in launching the careers of artists such as Michaël Borremans, Yang Fudong and Charles Avery. Entry to exhibitions at Parasol unit is free.


In 2009, the foundation launched its EXPOSURE Award, an annual programme which gives recent graduates the opportunity to exhibit their work alongside a major exhibition at the gallery. Each year Parasol unit selects three winning artists from a UK art school. The judging panel selects which one, or more, of the graduates will be invited to mount a month-long exhibition at Parasol unit.

Date Exhibition Artists
2005 The Performance Michaël Borremans
2005 Built in London Mario Sala
2006 No Snow on the Broken Bridge Yang Fudong
2006 Streifzuege David Schnell
2006 Goin’ Down, Down, Down Matthew Ronay
2006 Lonely long meaningless way home Johannes Kahrs
2007 Momentary Momentum: Animated Drawings Some artists included: Francis Alÿs, William Kentridge, David Shrigley, Naoyuki Tsuji, Tabaimo and Kara Walker
2007 Two Feet in One Shoe Armen Eloyan
2007 Secret for Snow Leopard Yutaka Sone
2008 Fire Under Snow Darren Almond
2008 Front of House Ângela Ferreira, Narelle Jubelin and Marcos Corrales
2008 Present Tense Mona Hatoum
2008 The Islanders: An Introduction Charles Avery
2008 Endless Prayers Y.Z.Kami
2009 X, Plus and Frame Paintings Robert Mangold
2009 Parades and Processions: Here comes everybody Francis Alÿs, Fiona Banner, Jeremy Deller, Thomas Hirschhorn, Rachel Hovnanian, Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler, William Kentridge, Michèle Magema, Annette Messager, Amy O’Neill and Hiraki Sawa.
2009 Cloud Choreography and Other Emergent Systems Keith Tyson
2009 Visible Invisible: Against the Security of the Real Cecily Brown, Hans Josephsohn, Shaun McDowell, Katy Moran and Maaike Schoorel.
2009 EXPOSURE 09 Award Sonny Sanjay Vadgama, Chris Gomersall and Mark Dennis, graduates of Central St Martins College of Art and Design
2010 Eija-Liisa Ahtila Eija-Liisa Ahtila
2010 Boundary Layer Tabaimo
2010 Silent Warriors Adel Abdessemed
2010 Burlesque in which we've thrown it on its head Nathan Cash Davidson
2010 EXPOSURE 10 Award Leah Capaldi, Kate Liston and Lea Provenzano, graduates of Royal College of Art
2011 I Know Something About Love Yang Fudong, Shirin Neshat, Christodoulos Panayiotou and Yinka Shonibare
2011 In Utero Jakub Julian Ziolkowski
2011 One half of August Yang Fudong
2011 Time and Memory Cecilia Edefalk and Gunnel Wåhlstrand
2011 Lines of Thought Helene Appel, Hemali Bhuta, James Bishop, Raoul De Keyser, Adrian Esparza, Özlem Günyol & Mustafa Kunt, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Jorge Macchi, Nasreen Mohamedi, Fred Sandback, Conrad Shawcross, Anne Truitt, and Richard Tuttle
2011 EXPOSURE 11 Award Jack Friswell, Kate Shepherd and Rebecca Turner, graduates of Wimbledon College of Art
2012 the time that remains David Claerbout
2012 Bharti Kher Bharti Kher
2012 Jannis Kounellis Jannis Kounellis
2012 EXPOSURE 12 Award Lulu MacDonald, Sean Steadman and Dante Rendle Traynor, graduates of Slade School of Fine Art
2013 MERLIN JAMES Merlin James
2013 Siah Armajani: An Ingenious World Siah Armajani
2013 EXPOSURE 13 Award Graduates of Goldsmiths, University of London

Images of the Gallery

See also

  • Victoria Miro Gallery located next door



External links