Contemporary art Collectors News United Kingdom

‘Grandmotherly’ arts patron reopens foundation after £1.4m expansion

Delfina Entrecanales now supports the largest residency programme in London—and isn’t afraid to show artists some tough love

The Spanish-born Delfina Entrecanales is known as a “grandmother” to her artists—a term she embraces. “I tell them off, I don’t care,” she says

After a ten-month expansion costing £1.4m, the 86-year-old arts patron Delfina Entrecanales reopened the doors to her art foundation in London on Friday, 17 January. Now occupying two knocked-through Edwardian townhouses on a quiet backstreet in Victoria, near Buckingham Palace, the Delfina Foundation has doubled in size to become the largest residency programme in the capital. The London-based Studio Octopi and the Cairo-based Shahira Fahmy Architects collaborated on the building, which can now host eight artist-residents at a time.

The UK’s culture minister Ed Vaizey welcomed visitors last week to the foundation’s gallery in the basement of the building, where the exhibition “The Politics of Food” is on display (20 January-15 February). “It’s great to be in a place that takes food as seriously as I do,” he said. “I expect hundreds of MPs will be beating a path to the door, especially when they hear how tidy it’s kept and that there is food here.”

Vaizey is not the only person to make note of the foundation’s coziness. The Spanish-born Entrecanales is known as a “grandmother” to her artists—a term she embraces. “I tell them off, I don’t care,” Entrecanales says. Aaron Cezar, the director of the foundation, explains: “Artists need tough love. The art world can get carried away with itself; artists need to be critical of the structure they make art in.”

Despite being honoured with a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 2012 and an Arts & Business Award from Prince Charles in December 2013, Entrecanales likes to get her hands dirty. She says she visits the foundation “a lot”, each time walking from her home in nearby Sloane Square. She has been known to scrub the floor, take out the rubbish and wash glasses. “I say to the artists: ‘If I clean, you clean’.” The philanthropist says her mother brought her up to “never show off”.

To say the patron is modest is an understatement. Since opening her first residency in Stratford, east London in 1988 (it was then known as the Delfina Studio Trust), Entrecanales has supported more than 500 artists, including Jane and Louise Wilson, Maurizio Cattelan, Martin Creed, Wael Shawky, Ala Younis, Tacita Dean and Karen Kilimnik.

Installation view of "The Politics of Food", Delfina Foundation, 2014. Photo: © Tim Bowditch
More from The Art Newspaper


Submit a comment

All comments are moderated. If you would like your comment to be approved, please use your real name, not a pseudonym. We ask for your email address in case we wish to contact you - it will not be made public and we do not use it for any other purpose.


Want to write a longer comment to this article? Email


Share this