It’s got to that time of the year when every art and design university course is holding their end of year exhibitions and final shows. I’ve already been to 3 myself, not only for the free wine, of course!
Here is a list of some of London’s hidden gems and independent galleries that you may not know about, but are definitely worth checking out!
Located on platform one of Hackney Downs railway station Banner Repeater must be London’s only art venue with a train service that can deliver visitors directly to the gallery door. Founded by Ami Clarke in 2009 this enterprising project space focuses on displays of text-based works and printed materials, alongside an accompanying programme of talks and discussions.
Platform 1, Hackney Downs Railway Station, Dalston Lane, London, E8 1LA
When founder-directors of Haunch of Venison, Harry Blain and Graham Southern, left the gallery they had a plan: to open their own gallery Blain|Southern. Their lineage and contacts mean that, although a new addition to London’s cultural landscape, the gallery is already considered part of London’s premier league of galleries. In early 2012, Blain|Southern held an intimate exhibition of Freud’s drawings, curated by William Feaver, Freud’s biographer.
Blain|Southern, 21 Dering Street, London W1S 1AL
Viktor Wynd Fine Art
Situated between Vyner Street and the Andrews Road gallery enclave, this Mare Street curiosity shop is both on the art circuit and determinedly off any beaten track. Peek through the windows and you’ll see a world in which velvet-cloaked Victorians, or perhaps The Mighty Boosh, might reside. Entering the shop, which is also the spiritual home of the esoterically minded Last Tuesday Society, reveals a wunderkammer of shells, skulls, taxidermy specimens and assorted oddities. Art gets a designated space in the first-floor gallery but, unsurprisingly, shows tend towards the eerily surreal.
11 Mare St, E8 4RP
The Pace Gallery has long been a vital force in the art world. Its origins are in Boston, where it was founded by Arne Glimcher in 1960, but Pace has always known the importance of London as an art capital. Their small loft-like space in Soho regularly shows a selection of the artists on their books, which includes Claes Oldenburg, Zhang Huan and Robert Ryman. Pace embraces the globalization of the art world being one of the earliest galleries to develop the idea of the art gallery as brand.
Pace London, First floor 6-10 Lexington Street, London W1F 0LB
The Old Police Station
This abandoned cop shop in deepest Deptford provides unique DIY spaces for artists to show and make art, from the original tiled cells (complete with latrines) that are used as intimate galleries, to the shipping containers in the courtyard that house busy studios and a small artist-run exhibition venue called Cartel. The Old Bill’s former mess hall has now become the official watering hole for south London’s new after-hours gallery gatherings on the last Friday of every month (Slam Fridays), because, frankly, what kind of cultural evening out would be complete without an overnight spell in the nick?
114-116 Amersham Vale, London, SE14 6LG
Founder Larry Gagosian is widely regarded as the most important dealer in the art world. Gagosian now has 11 galleries established internationally, two based in London. The larger of the two London spaces is Gagosian Britannia Street, while the smaller gallery is at Davies Street – both locations far removed from London’s regular gallery circuit. Gagosian represents important artists such as Richard Prince, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Rachel Whiteread. Moreover, the gallery’s location means it’s often not very busy, which, rather luxuriously, means you sometimes have the whole place to yourself.
Gagosian, 6-24 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JD & 17-19 Davies Street, London W1K 3DE
Between 1822 and 1854, the crypt beneath St Pancras Church was used to bury departed Londoners, but since 2002 its atmospheric underground arches and alcoves have hosted an ongoing programme of curated contemporary art exhibitions and events, from large-scale sound installations to a group show on the nature of drawing and even an alternative Christmas grotto. If you get the feeling that you’re not alone down there, you’re right – the space still houses the interred remains of its 557 original occupants.
Euston Rd, NW1 2BA
Old Etonian Jay Jopling is synonymous with the success of the YBA’s, and Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and the Chapman Brothers all have him to thank for their success. White Cube gallery was his brainchild and it now exists as a symbol of Britart’s triumph in the art world. In 2000 it opened a new gallery at 48 Hoxton Square, a building that had been previously occupied by a small publishing company and a piano factory. White Cube’s shows manage to be both glamorous and intelligent, which can’t be said for all of London’s contemporary art galleries.
White Cube, 48 Hoxton Square, London N1 6PB
Cabinet has been a fixture on the scene for 20 years, moving from Brixton and Farringdon to its current spot on Old Street. But, despite being a favourite of heavyweight curators for showing great artists like Enrico David and Mark Leckey, it keeps a low-key public profile. Subscribing on their website is the best way to find out about upcoming exhibitions and events but don’t expect to receive much more than an artist’s name and a set of dates.
49-59 Old St, EC1V 9HX
A former VW garage off the Old Kent Road has been hijacked by young artists as a chop-shop of performance art, lectures, exhibitions and symposia. Alongside irregular but well-attended music and club nights, they even turned the space into a fully fledged independent television station last year. The lively scene of nearby Peckham also revolves around an unlikely hub of galleries, hidden in an industrial estate that includes the Hannah Barry and Son galleries.
434-452 Old Kent Rd, SE1 5AG