An All-Encompassing Guide To Art Galleries In London
Ever since cavemen graffitied their bedrooms, art has played a key role in our culture. But with so much of it about, it’s hard to know what to look for. One man’s trash is, literally, another’s Turner award-winning installation. Luckily, the capital curates some of the finest collections on earth, and with this comprehensive guide you’ll be surveying Cezannes and pointing out Picassos like a pro.
It’s time to brush up…
Last updated: 20th February 2019
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CENTRAL LONDON ART GALLERIES
A classic white-walled Mayfair art gallery, hanging unusual works of art from the 19th century to now. Their specialisms lie in oil paintings and Impressionism, with a regular smattering of surrealist works.
Patrick Hughes: A New Look At Perspective | Until 29th March
If you were into those ‘Magic Eye’ prints in the nineties, this is one for you. Patrick Hughes has been painting trippy ‘reverse perspective’ landscapes for over 50 years, featuring cubic buildings and streets where the furthest points also appear to be the biggest. Walking through the gallery, the canvases themselves shift like holograms as your brain tries to make sense of the geometry.
Address: 5-7 Dover Street, W1S 4LD | Opening Times: Weekdays 9am-6pm | Entry: Free
Freshly opened, Mayfair’s Bastian is the first international sibling to the renowned Berlin spot, which – in just over a decade of opening – has already seen works by Picasso and Anselm Kiefer hang on its walls. Its bright and airy London incarnation is set to play host to equally eminent artists from the 20th century, starting off with a bang.
Andy Warhol: Polaroid Pictures | Until 13th April
They’re not pulling any punches with their opening exhibition. Essentially a who’s who of ’70s and ’80s New York, this collection of 60 polaroids captures spontaneous and intimate portraits of iconic celebrities, by the most iconic artist of all.
Address: 8 Davies Street, W1K 3DW | Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-6pm | Entry: Free
A Brutalist and, quite frankly, brutal concrete metropolis is home to the Hayward Gallery; an exhibition space designed to receive touring work and host major modern collections. Sat within the cultural playground that is the Southbank Centre, there’s a dazzling array of art on offer within its walls, and that of its neighbours. Its visual policy is painted with broad brush strokes, and previous exhibits have included everything from Van Gogh to Gormley – but recently it’s the recent which has taken centre stage.
Kader Attia: The Museum of Emotion | Until 6th May
Spanning the last two decades of the artist’s career, the Museum of Emotion is filled with repaired objects, sculptures, videos and photographs that are designed to create a ‘forum for emotional response’, critiquing Western systems of control and the legacy of colonialism in the West’s interactions with the rest of the world.
Diane Arbus: In The Beginning | Until 6th May
A striking collection of photos from the first seven years of Arbus’ work as a photographer, ranging from circus performers and eccentrics to candid shots of everyday pedestrians.
Address: Southbank Centre, 337-338 Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | Opening Hours: Wed-Mon 11am-7pm, Thursdays until 9pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £14.50
The errant, wayward child of the RA, the ICA was established as a space for artists and scientists to discuss ideas freely and without limitation. An avid promoter of the avant-garde, it’s been an epicentre of experimental work ever since. With galleries, a theatre, and two cinemas you’re bound to find something, in some medium, that suits your fancy. Even if it’s just the second Rochelle Canteen restaurant.
Morag Kiel: Moarg Kiel | Until 14th April
A souped-up collage of film, installation and paint, used to explore the ways we are manipulated by interactions with advertising and the digital world, with a pop at gender stereotyping along the way.
Check out screenings, talks and more HERE
Address: The Mall, St James’s, SW1Y 5AH | Opening Hours: Tue-Thurs 12pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-12am, Sun 12pm-11pm | Entry: £1
A little green house on Pall Mall goes for £100, and a big red hotel will set you back £1000. Unfortunately, the work on offer here will cost a little bit more. Home to the Federation of British Artists, this Regency-style gallery has art for browsing, and for buying, with a real variety gracing its walls.
2019 British Life Photography Awards | Until 23rd February
Like the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, only with endearingly everyday scenes of British life instead of flamboyant birds of paradise.
Address: The Mall, St. James’s, SW1Y 5AH | Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm (closes 1pm last day of exhibitions) | Entry: Free / Exhibitions £4/£6 with a catalogue
Pride of place in London’s art scene, presiding over the four lions of Trafalgar Square, is the National Gallery. Amongst the most visited art museums in the world, the National Gallery has a premier league roll call of great works. Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire and Da Vinci’s The Virgin of the Rocks all adorn its walls. Most major artists are represented in some way or another here, making it an absolute mecca for Art History bingo.
Boilly: Scenes of Parisian Life | 28th February – 19th May
A display of 20 never-before-seen works from a private collection, this exhibition looks at the paintings of Boilly, who was active during the French Revolution and the ensuing rise and fall of Napoleon. Expect trompe l’oeils and intimate scenes which got him into trouble with the authorities. Free entry.
Address: Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN | Opening Hours: Sat-Thurs 10am-6pm, Fri 10am-9pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £10
A nosy, mouthy, (and eye-y) neighbour of the National Gallery, the NPG has been serving up strong face in every corner of its four storey building ever since 1896. It’s fairly commonplace to feel like you’re being watched with over 195,000 faces looking out from within frames or atop busts. The most celebrated visage is that of William Shakespeare, but the entire gallery is a veritable who’s who of history and makes the perfect spot to come face to face with England’s ancestors.
Elizabethan Treasures | 28th February – 19th May
A collection of rare and prized portrait miniatures from the Michaelangelos of the micro-art world, Hilliard and Oliver.
Address: St. Martin’s Place, WC2H 0HE | Opening Hours: Sat-Thur 10am-6pm, Fri 10am-9pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £14
After snapping up a Tea Bar in Covent Garden, founder and director Sue Davies quickly developed it into the UK’s first dedicated space for photography and photographers. It’s now moved into an old textiles factory but continues to act as a centre of excellence, and research, into the 20th century’s iconic medium.
Roman Vishniac Rediscovered | Until 24th February
The first UK retrospective of Roman Vishniac, a Russian-born photographer who spent his youth in Berlin before moving to New York towards the end of WWII. Staggeringly talented, he was celebrated in the fields of both biology and photography – but it’s the latter that’s showcased here, exhibiting both rare and seminal snapshots of the rise of Nazi Germany, and the concurrent loss of civil liberties suffered by the Jewish population.
All I Know Is What’s On The Internet | Until 24th February
A fascinating exploration of how ‘like’ culture, bots, and the rapid recirculation of images online has impacted visual culture, and especially photography.
Address: 16-18 Ramillies Street, W1F 7LW | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions £4
Pride comes before a fall but the photographs are firmly in place at this boutique gallery on the Strand. Popular culture in all its forms is celebrated here, so expect to rock and roll your way through a gallery of famous faces and legendary locations.
The Dior Collection | Until 7th April
A set of iconic prints showcasing the stunning designs of French couturier, Christian Dior, from glossy editorial photoshoots to candid snaps from behind the scenes.
Address: 32 John Adam Street, WC2N 6BP | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-6pm | Entry: Free
Once upon a time an exclusively royal affair but these days awash with the unwashed, the Queen’s Gallery is the dictionary definition of a fine art gallery – “a place that houses work created primarily for aesthetic and intellectual purposes”. The collection is, unsurprisingly, fit for a king (or queen) and contains a revolving exhibit of works owned by the royals to ensure their protection for, and presumably from, the Great British public.
Russia | Until 28th April
A survey of the entwined histories of the British and former Russian royal families over the past 400 years, through Fabergé eggs, diplomatic gifts and contracts – alongside Roger Fenton’s stirring photographs of the Crimean War.
Address: Buckingham Palace, Buckingham Palace Road, SW1A 1AA | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 9:30am-5:30pm | Entry: £12
Perhaps in a moment of his famed “madness”, King George III dipped into his own pocket to establish the RA in order to raise the professional status of artists and foster a national school of art. Off his rocker or not, it proved a big success and lives on to this day as a privately funded institution training, and promoting, artists and art appreciation. The RA has moved with the ebbs and flows of artistic taste, and its annual summer exhibition showcases the best new art on the scene. Its exhibitions have ranged from Hogarth to Hockney, whilst its permanent collection samples something from throughout Art History.
Bill Viola / Michelangelo | Until 31st March
Despite the small point of one having passed away 450 years ago, these two artists have a surprising amount in common – as you’ll see in this dramatic exhibition exploring physical limits and moments of transcendence.
Address: Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 0BD | Opening Hours: Sat-Thurs 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-10pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £14
Originally the tudor crib to end all cribs, this imposing residence on the river Thames became a Stuart royal palace, a brief home of the Royal Academy, and now holds the offices of over a hundred creative organisations and artists, alongside numerous exhibition spaces for a range of different media. The Duke of Somerset, despite being executed before it was completed, would no doubt lose his head over how brilliant it’s become.
NOTE: The Courtauld Gallery is currently closed for major renovation works until at least 2020. Watch this space.
Good Grief, Charlie Brown! | Until 3rd March
Make the trip to see this exhibition, and you’ll get Peanuts. Which is undoubtedly a very good thing – see original cartoons alongside contemporary work that’s been inspired by the iconic characters of Snoopy and Charlie Brown.
Hanna Moon & Joyce Ng: English As A Second Language | Until 28th April | Free
A ream of stunning images from two of the fashion world’s most exciting photographers, celebrating diversity behind, as well as in front of, the lens of the fashion industry.
Address: Strand, WC2R 1LA | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 8am-11pm | Entry: Free/£14+ for exhibitions
The epicurean, slightly dotty uncle of the Tate Modern is concerned with one thing only – The Land of Hope and Glory (and the artists who come from within it). It’s quite the line up, so expect all the big names from 1500 to the present day; Turner, Constable, Bacon, Blake, and Emin. Quite the knees up.
Edward Burne-Jones | Until 24th February
A huge collection of paintings, sketches and tapestries from one of the Pre-Raphaelite movement’s most prominent artists.
Jesse Darling: The Ballad of Saint Jerome | Until 24th February
A surreal collection of animated-looking objects, from escaping cabinets to snake-canes.
Don McCullin | Until 6th May
A haunting, 250-strong array of prints from British photographer Don McCullin, from images of shellshocked soldiers in Vietnam to candid captures in some of the most deprived areas of England.
Address: Millbank, SW1P 4RG | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £16
Some people think modern art is just a load of Pollocks. And they’d be right. But he’s not the only artist you’ll find in this behemoth of modern and contemporary works. It holds the British Collection of pieces from 1900 to the present day, and is one of the largest modern art museums in the world. Housed within the old Bankside power station, it has become an iconic landmark on the Thames’ riverscape. The old turbine hall dwarfs its visitors and holds specially commissioned, larger-than-life exhibits.
Tania Bruguera: 10, 145, 110 | Until 24th February
A pair of site-specific, immersive installations exploring ‘forced empathy’, which involve using body heat to reveal a portrait of Yousef, a Syrian refugee, and a room filled with a gaseous compound that makes you cry.
Pierre Bonnard: The Colour of Memory | Until 6th May
One of the 20th century’s great colourists, this collection of Bonnard’s works focusses on his paintings capturing intimate, everyday moments.
Magic Realism | Until 14th July
A free, year-long exhibition, this collation of works from Germany’s Weimar Republic (1919-1933) reflects on the shift towards “cold veracity” and the unsettling in an era of huge political change.
Address: Bankside, SE1 9TG | Opening Hours: Fri-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun-Thurs 10am-6pm Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £16
A collecting hobby that got a little out of hand is now a major collection of 18th and 19th century works collected by subsequent Marquesses of Hertford, and bequeathed to the public. Housed within a imposing regency townhouse, the Wallace is famed for its triumphant collection of French decorative arts; the grandest one outside of Gaul. It’s a fancy family’s fancy private collection, so expect gilded frames, suits of armour, and offensive levels of wealth to dominate your surroundings on your sojourn through the wings.
Currently permanent collection only – Henry Moore: The Helmet Heads opens 6th March.
Address: Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1U 3BN | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 10am-5pm | Entry: Free
Jean-David Malat has curated galleries from Paris to Azerbaijan – and last year he opened his first personal gallery in London, where you’ll find a frequently rotating display of modern works from international artists. They’ll happily advise you on building your own art collection – but if your pocket money won’t stretch quite so far, you can just head in for a look-see.
TO SEE IS NOT TO SPEAK | Until 2nd March
Conrad Jon Godly’s paintings are about the sublime power of nature, and the relative insignificance of mankind – and bring a little bit of the Appalachians to Mayfair.
Address: 30 Davies Street, W1K 4NB | Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10am-6pm | Entry: Free
NORTH LONDON ART GALLERIES
Ben Uri Gallery
Founded over 100 years ago, in the Jewish Ghetto of Whitechapel by Russian immigrant Lazar Berson, this art museum has always focused on the lives, careers, and works of refugee artists. True to its heritage, the gallery packed its bags and migrated to St John’s Wood, where now its 1300 works, covering 30 separate mediums, continue to showcase the artistic output of immigrant communities.
NOTE: The Ben Uri Gallery is currently closed for refurbishment until March 2019.
Address: 108A Boundary Road, NW8 0RH | Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-5:30pm, Sat-Sun 11am-5pm | Entry: Free
Camden Arts Centre
Credit: Hydar Dewachi
What began as a local Arts scheme providing the Hampstead community with classes in everything from painting to pottery, grew, over the past 50 years, into an internationally acclaimed centre for the arts. Housed on the leafier side of Swiss Cottage this enclave of ever rotating, multi disciplinary artistry is a small and quaint affair with an onsite bookshop, cafe, and garden to boot.
Beatrice Gibson: Crone Music | Until 31st March
Two interconnected feminist films made in response to current US politics, combining intimate family footage with a reboot of a 90 year old thriller.
Address: Arkwright Road, NW3 6DG | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-6pm, Wed 10am-9pm | Entry: Free
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
The frontage exudes the class and posture of Georgian England, but step inside and you’ll tumble down into the kaleidoscopic world of Italian Futurist Art. Futurism was one of Italy’s most significant contributions to the 20th century and this museum is Britain’s only one dedicated to the movement. Expect sculptures, paintings, landscapes, and the downright bizarre – all from a young nation looking to find la dolce vita.
Fausto Melotti: Counterpoint | Until 7th April
Relatively lesser-known Futurist sculptor Fausto Melotti gets his own dedicated retrospective, with a collection of his geometric 1930s works inspired by the crossover between music and mathematics.
Address: 39A Canonbury Square, N1 2AN | Opening Hours: Wed-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 12pm-5pm | Entry: £6.50/£4.50 (Concession)
House of Illustration
London’s only public gallery dedicated to graphic art was founded by a man who undoubtedly etched his creations onto your childhood, Sir Quentin Blake. As Dahl’s illustrator, his work has found itself onto almost every bookshelf in Britain and a small collection of his drawings are on permanent display in the House of Illustration. Set within the old granary buildings just north of Kings Cross, this museum is a dais to doodles – proving that even sketches have their place up on the wall.
Corita Kent: Power Up | Until 12th May
The first major gathering of the dramatic and colourful works of Corita Kent: pop artist, social activist, and nun.
Address: 2 Granary Square, King’s Cross, N1C 4BH | Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: £7.50/£5.50 (Concession)
James Freeman Gallery
A contemporary art dealer specialising in artists who combine contemporary technique with old-school references, with regular solo shows to promote emerging young artists.
Land of Mortimer | Until 2nd March
A surreal series set in a re-imagined Garden of Eden by painter James Mortimer, who “enjoy[s] capturing the anticipation of something about to happen, the lull before the storm – such a man about to ill-advisedly hit a giraffe in the testicles with a club, which can only end badly.”
Address: 354 Upper Street, N1 0PD | Opening Hours: Tues-Sat, 11am-6.30pm | Entry: Free
Dedicated totally to the three dimensional, the Pangolin details the historic development of British sculpture as well as showcasing the, ahem, cutting-edge of modern contemporary work.
Carl Plackman and His Circle | Until 2nd March
A retrospective of sculptor and artist Carl Plackman, exhibited alongside pieces from his friends, colleagues and pupils (including a certain Damien Hirst).
Address: Kings Place, 90 York Way, N1 9AG | Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm | Entry: Free
Representing 40 established and emerging artists, Victoria Miro is one of the largest commercial spaces in London – and a great place to wile away the afternoon pretending you can afford to buy even one item. The Wharf Road gallery is a converted furniture factory and now houses Grayson Perry’s 15m Walthamstow Tapestry amongst numerous other works including the garden itself, landscaped personally for the gallery.
John Kørner: Life In A Box | Until 23rd March
Paintings and sculpture from the Copenhagen-based artist, including a climbing frame that’s also a bar…
Address: 16 Wharf Road, N1 7RW | Opening Hours: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm | Entry: Free
William Morris Gallery
The original hipster, Morris eschewed Victorian trends in favour of more “retro” Medieval vibes – before going on to propagate the socialist movement in Britain and then sow the seeds of fantasy literature by translating Icelandic epic poetry. His life was as intricate and interconnected as his infamous wallpaper designs, and this delightful museum celebrates every facet of his fascinating existence.
Cultural Revolution: State Graphics in China from 1960s-1970s | 23rd February – 27th May
A visually striking collection of propaganda posters, home-made paper cuttings and portraits of Mao Zedong during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
Haiku Adventure: The Craft of Games | 26th February – 15th September
Find out exactly what video games and Japanese Edo-era woodblock prints have in common at this interactive installation detailing the development of Haiku Adventure, a new game inspired by the art of ukiyo-e prints.
Address: Lloyd Park, Forest Road, E17 4PP | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-5pm | Entry: Free
SOUTH LONDON ART GALLERIES
An unusual little gem in Bermondsey, where work from emerging artists is displayed inside a whitewashed house, complete with fireplaces and radiators. Here you’ll find contemporary art at the cutting edge; from mixed-media portraits to site-specific installations.
Of Stars and Chasms | Until 24th February
An exhibition from artists Hannah Luxton and Julie F Hill exploring ideas of the sublime in nature and the cosmos, including a sculpture made from one of the largest ever prints of the milky way, and a video combining AI with images from the Hubble telescope.
Address: 45 Grange Road, SE1 3BH | Opening Hours: Thurs-Sun 3-7pm | Entry: Free
Dulwich Picture Gallery
The oldest public art gallery in England, this imposing Regency triumph stands proud in well-to-do Dulwich. Home to an impressive collection of historical works, this is a classic gallery experience. Expect Dutch paintings of cows on bridges, splendid nudity in reenactments of Greco Roman mythology, and a handful of Italian masters.
Harald Sohlberg: Painting Norway | Until 2nd June
The UK’s first major exhibition on the Norwegian landscape artist, 150 years after his birth.
Address: Gallery Road, SE21 7AD | Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm | Entry: £16.50/£8 (concessions)
Newport Street Gallery
Formaldehyde-bathed bovines and spin-painted pictures, sharks sliced in half, and a golden hooved calf, mountains of artwork all tied up with string, these are a few of Damien Hirst’s favourite things. As one of the richest living artists and most enthusiastic collectors, Hirst is no stranger to the contemporary scene and his personal collection, on show at the Newport Street Gallery, contains over 3,000 works from Bacon, Banksy, Emin and even Picasso.
John Bellany and Alan Davie: Cradle of Magic | 27th February – 1st September
A retrospective of two of the biggest artists from the Scottish Renaissance of the mid 20th century. Expect a mad, colourful mash-up of Celtic and Byzantine religious art, jazz, automatism and fishermen.
Address: Newport Street, SE11 6AJ | Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: Free
South London Gallery
Camberwell’s contemporary art gallery has always been at the forefront of the South London art scene. Originally the gallery of a local working men’s college, it has always sought to celebrate current artists. That trend continued and, in 1995, it was the first venue to showcase Emin’s infamous “tent”. It now houses a number of permanent exhibits with revolving temporary installations.
Bloomberg New Contemporaries | Until 24th February
57 emerging artists and recent graduates display their work, all tackling current issues and set at the cutting edge of contemporary art.
Address: 65-67 Peckham Road, SE5 8UH | Opening Hours: Tue 11am-6pm, Wed 11am-9pm, Thurs-Sun 11am-6pm | Entry: Free
White Cube Bermondsey
Europe’s biggest commercial gallery has come under its fair share of criticism. Owned and run by an old Etonian and known for displaying works in a cold and clinical manner, it’s easy to see why. But representing the likes of Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst, you can guarantee that the stars of British contemporary art will shine bright on any visit. The whitewashed walls, and strip lighting, can make it feel like a bit like a trip to the hospital (or asylum depending on your view of the work), but this institution of the ever fractious art scene is well worth a wander.
Tracey Emin: A Fortnight of Tears | Until 7th April
Proving herself once more as one of the art world’s most, er, Emin-ent figures, the award-winning artist gets a solo exhibition here spanning painting, photography and neon – including a gallery of self-portraits taken during bouts of insomnia.
White Cube Mason’s Yard: Miroslaw Balka: Random Access Memory | Until 9th March
A space filled with simple corrugated iron ‘walls’, heated to 45 degrees – the temperature at which blood starts to coagulate in the body – as a comment on borders between nations, and the escalating issue of climate change.
Address: 144-152 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ | Opening Hours: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12pm-6pm | Entry: Free
EAST / THE CITY GALLERIES
Sat inside a 1930s veneer factory, Chisenhale Gallery produces and commissions contemporary art in the heart of the East End. Its focus is on emerging and under-represented artists so expect the new and the different in this champion of the people.
Ghislaine Leung: Constitution | Until 24th March
An avant-garde, interactive set of installations involving noise cancelling headphones, sculpture, and changing temperature.
Address: 64 Chisenhale Road, E3 5QZ | Opening Hours: Wed-Sun 12am-6pm | Entry: Free
Guildhall Art Gallery
Established in 1886 as ‘a collection of art treasures worthy of the capital city’, the Guildhall Gallery is exactly that – a sumptuous assembly of art that you’d expect the captains of industry from centuries past to have amassed. Big sexy frames, portraits of gentlemen with enormous wigs, and an impressive number of Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces are the mainstay of their throng which seeks to show off in telling the story of London town.
Seen and Heard: Victorian Children in the Frame | Until 28th April
Putting Victorian kiddiwinks back in the picture, this exhibition brings together idyllic depictions of 19th century childhood – at a time when the concept was first coined.
Visions and Visionaries | Until 28th April
A dreamy, surreal collection of illustrations and drawings from the pre-Raphaelites to modern-day artists, all based around myth and fable.
Address: Guildhall Yard, EC2V 5AE | Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-4pm | Entry: Free
Paley was a bit of a pioneer in the contemporary art scene, being the first to exhibit in London’s East End. Now representing over 40 individuals, her gallery showcases their work and makes for a varied stroll through some of the UK’s most exciting and decorated contemporary artists. There are two Turner prize winners and even more nominees on show. Which should turn heads.
WHAT’S ON: Main Gallery Only
Address: 21 Herald Street, E2 6JT | Opening Hours: Wed-Sun 11am-6pm Entry: Free
A gallery running frequent exhibitions – frequently running three displays at a time – it’s a beautifully minimalist space that plays host to all kinds of abstract and provocative contemporary art, supporting a roster of emerging sculptors, photographers and painters.
Linder: Ever Standing Apart From Everything | Until 16th March
Tackling gender roles and commercialisation, one collage at a time.
Address: 50 – 58 Vyner Street, E2 9DQ | Opening Hours: Wed-Sat 11am-6pm | Entry: Free
An eclectic East London venue dedicated to showcasing the work of local artists, and incubating new talent through residencies and workshops. Surrounded by artists’ studios, it’s set in an old 19th century convent, and has an excellent café for mulling over the exhibits with an Allpress coffee.
Doreen Fletcher: A Retrospective | Until 24th March
Doreen Fletcher has been painting the shifting urban landscapes of the East End for three decades, downing tools in 2004 due to lack of recognition. Thanks to a chance meeting with Spitalfields Life writer, The Gentle Author, her paintings were finally brought to prominence, and this exhibition houses her finest works under the same roof for the first time.
Address: 181 Bow Road, E3 2SJ | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun, 10am-5pm | Entry: Free
Founded in 1901, this gallery set out to give great art to the masses. Since then it’s had some pretty impressive mates round for tea. Picasso’s Guernica popped by; Pollock, Hockney, and Lucian Freud all logged stays; and currently it displays a mix of modern and contemporary masters.
Ulla von Brandenburg: Sweet Feast | Until 31st March
A short film recreating the true story of a huge sweets convention held in the gallery in the 70s, which was brought to an abrupt end when a horde of children overwhelmed the guard and ate it all.
Address: 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX | Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 11am-6pm | Entry: Free
WEST LONDON ART GALLERIES
Nominated for European Museum of the Year in 2018, the Design Museum is, as you’d expect, very well put together. In the bustling cultural quarter of Kensington, its three floors and two basements serve up permanent exhibitions, learning centres, glass-walled design studios and temporary gallery spaces. The permanent gallery is the only one in the UK to be dedicated completely to contemporary design.
David Adjaye: Making Memory | Until 5th May
A look at seven of this celebrated architect’s most striking structures, and how architecture can be used to tell stories.
Address: 224-238 Kensington High Street, W8 6AG | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: Free/~£16 temporary exhibitions
Street art off the street is the focus of this gritty and urban gallery. Derived from the Italian to scratch, this ancient form of expression has taken on a new lease of life in our modern times. Whether it’s a growing art form or just an aberration on our city streets, it certainly packs a punch and this collection gives you a vast overview of the city’s strongest pieces – without ever making you step outside.
WHAT’S ON: Main Exhibition Only.
Address: 284 Portobello Road, W10 5TE | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-6pm | Entry: Free
Leighton House Museum and Art Gallery
When a noted painter and lord of the realm commissions you to design his house, you’d better bring your A-game. Well, George Aitchison did just that and his creation is now a Grade II listed building, widely revered for its Orientalist and aesthetic interiors – and the home of the Leighton House Museum. The permanent gallery, predictably, contains numerous works from Leighton himself; so expect to cast your eye over lavish oil panoramas of Greek myths, lords and ladies, and ecclesiastical scenes.
WHAT’S ON: The main collection sits alongside a revolving selection of one-off events including live music, art classes, and kite workshops.
Address: 12 Holland Park Road, W14 8LZ | Opening Hours: Wed-Mon 10am-5:30pm | Entry: £9/£7 (Concessions)
A controversial centre headed by a controversial curator, the Saatchi Gallery has always sought to challenge. Thankfully, viewing its collection is no such thing – it’s the only completely free contemporary art gallery of its size in the world. Its guiding principle has always been to operate as the quirkier B-side to places like the Tate Modern – so expect to find new and unknown works from artists all hoping to be the Hockney of tomorrow.
Black Mirror: Art As Social Satire | Until 22nd February
A completely bonkers collection – from an entire shrink-wrapped boat to a room full of wooden gravestones – collating politically charged pieces from some of the most eclectic artists around.
Address: Duke of York’s HQ, Kings Road, SW3 4RY | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: Free
These two contemporary galleries connect thanks to a snaking bridge that crests the Serpentine – hence the name. In celebration of their idyllic, Eden-esque setting, every summer the gallery commissions a temporary structure to fill its outdoor pavilion.
Grace Wales Bonner: A Time For New Dreams | Until 17th March
A set of multimedia installations exploring the idea of a shrine as a portal to other worlds of possibility, peppered with cultural traditions and practices from Wales Bonner’s own heritage and beyond.
Address: Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: Free
Like the Queen whose name it bears, the V&A is imposing, vast, and spans decades. With 145 galleries and over 5,000 years of art in its collection, it really is an encyclopaedia of design. Since its inception in 1852, the museum has always adopted a policy of “wide art”; attempting to inspire, dazzle, and entertain with its eclectic collection. Today is no different and you can travel the world and back without ever leaving the building (except to look at the courtyard).
Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt | Until 24th February 2019
Find out how iconic video games were designed through prototypes, sketches and immersive installations.
Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams | Until 14th July
A showstopper of an exhibition, combining jaw-dropping evening gowns with vintage perfume bottles; rare prints; original sketches and more, celebrating one of the world’s most famous couturiers.
Address: Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL | Opening Hours: Sat-Thurs 10am-5:45pm, Fri 10am-10pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £12
Main image: Royal Academy
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