As someone who is always out and about exploring London, I’m frequently asked for my recommendations:
‘Where do you go to look for inspiration?’
‘Which are the best Art galleries in London?’
‘Where can I go to see cool & colourful things?’
Anyone that follows me on Instagram (and if you don’t already, then you should HERE) will know how hungry I am for visual inspiration and that I love sharing it for others to experience too. I honestly get such a buzz from it! Because I’m asked so much, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite London galleries – well-known and some more obscure ones too. Obviously things move quite fast and even though these galleries are usually great, not all of the exhibitions will be to my/your taste so it’s good to just keep an eye on what’s new via the gallery’s newsletter or Instagram etc.
London has SO MUCH to offer in terms of Art & Culture but sometimes the best (in my opinion) things can slip under the radar of bigger publications like Time Out etc. Although, in a way I’m kinda glad that they miss things because then I don’t have to fight a giant crowd to get ‘the shot’ for my Instagram. Hehe.
Of course I don’t mind sharing my fave hot spots with you guys though, as long as you promise me one thing: if you see me IRL then you HAVE to come and say hello. Even if I’m mid squat trying to get the right angle! ha Oh and another thing too; if you go to any of these places please let me know that I sent you & what you thought 🙂
Ok, with that agreed, let’s dive into the culture:
I don’t spend a lot of time in North London, but recently visited the Camden Arts Centre (Finchley & Frognal) for the first time and LOVED the vibe. The name is slightly deceiving as it’s within the Camden Borough, not the area we all immediately think of, but it was definitely worth the journey to see the Nathalie Du Pasquier exhibition (2017).
So, it’s not technically classed as an ‘Art gallery’, but in my eyes Gods Own Junkyard (Walthamstow Central) is a gallery of neon art and I’m pretty sure if you’ve visited you’d agree. New and Old pieces of signage come together as one in memory of collector Chris Bracey and this place is just magical.
East London is famous for it’s cool street art, so naturally it’s home to some of the best alternative galleries! I’ve still not been to Whitechapel Gallery (Aldgate East) because typically everytime I try to visit it’s Monday and they’re closed, but one day I’ll make it! I often pop into Jealous Gallery (Shoreditch High Street) for inspiration and Victoria Miro (Old Street) has a great track record for exhibitions so brilliant that people queue for hours to see them! Most recently NOW Gallery (North Greenwich) has been popping up on my radar with some colourful and interactive displays – Camille Walala, Yinka Illori and coming soon – Fred Butler.
As I’m a ‘Londoner’ now (read: not a tourist), I mostly avoid popping into central these days. BUT I can be swayed by a good exhibition or three and central has both busy and touristy and hidden gems to offer. Starting with the big guns, of course we have the Tate Modern (Blackfriars), Royal Academy of Arts (Green Park) and Somerset House (Temple) – all have a wide range of exhibitions, styles and topics. I often wander into these 3 galleries with no prior knowledge of what’s on and I always manage to find something really interesting.
For the more obscure but still brilliant displays, step off Regent Street to discover Sprueth Magers (Bond Street), David Zwirner (Bond Street), Nahmad Projects (Piccadilly Circus) and Blain Southern (Oxford Circus). I’ve discovered some very cool projects using neon, light, pattern and colour in these smaller galleries and I’ll keep going back again and again to find more!
Another gem which SO MANY people walk past every day is Galeria Melissa (Covent Garden) which is mainly because it’s a shoe shop, but with a twist. It’s probably the coolest shoe shop you’ll ever visit because it’s a shoe gallery and they also always have some cool interactive experience downstairs – I’m talking a swimming pool themed ball pit. Yes, it’s TRUE! Some patience was required for that one, as it was full of spanish school kids who wanted to throw balls at Emma & I whilst we were obviously taking it seriously to get ‘the shot’.
Every time I talk about South London everyone always moans about ‘going south of the river’ like it’s a big deal. It’s really not, but some of the galleries ARE a big deal – they’re some of my favourites!
I have vivid memories of going to Martin Creed at the Hayward Gallery (Waterloo) back in 2014 because it was just AMAZING. Think spinning giant neon words, lots of colour, pyramids of toilet rolls and a room full of white balloons – that’s the vibe… very abstract and very cool. Similarly you will find lots of odd but cool exhibitions at White Cube Gallery (London Bridge/Bermondsey), Newport Street Gallery (Lambeth) and South London Gallery (Peckham Rye). These galleries are usually worth the trek, I promise!
Last but not least, it’s the ‘other’ Tate; Tate Britain (Pimlico). We all know that the Tate Modern is basically the queen bee of London art galleries, but just because she’s one of the popular girls, it doesn’t make her the best! I love the Tate Britain for a number of reasons: it has an amazing feature wall by David Tremlett, lots of space (and less people), an amazing monochrome spiral staircase and, most importantly, a timeline of British artworks dating back from 1545 to the present. It really has something for everyone, and anyway everyone loves an under dog, eh?
Well then; that should keep you busy for a few months! Hope you enjoyed that little insight into my fave places for inspiration. Remember, things change pretty fast so you’ll need to keep your eyes & ears open for new & exciting exhibitions! ENJOY and maybe I’ll bump into you at one of these galleries soon!