For the past two decades, the East End has been the creative centre of London’s art world. Yet things are changing and the gallery landscape is constantly in flux. While White Cube has left and Vyner Street has died, exciting new spaces popping up all the time and it is worth the dedication it takes to find them. This is a route to catch some of the best.
Start at Raven Row:
A. Raven Row | 56 Artillery Lane, E1 7LS
This institution, co-founded by Alex Sainsbury, in an 18th-century Huguenot silk merchant’s shop, is one of the most beautiful independently minded spaces in London. Their emphasis is on rediscovery and the ephemeral, with museum-class shows from
, curator Lars Bang Larsen, and this summer a retrospective of Yvonne Rainer’s dance works.
Veer left up Artillery Lane; turn right at Stewart St. and walk straight on until you hit Spital Square, where you turn left; turn right at the main road Norton Folgate, which runs into Shoreditch High St.; turn left at Great Eastern St., then right onto Curtain Rd.
B. Henry Kinman | 81 Curtain Rd., EC2A 3AG
Young gallerist Henry Kinman has transformed this concrete basement on Curtain Road into one of the most interesting spaces to discover hot young artists. Kinman is great with a group show, bringing together artists such as
, Paul Kneale, and
in thoughtful exhibitions often focusing on texture, material, and abstraction.
Turn right out of Kinman, cross the road and take the first left at New Inn Yard. Walk straight over Shoreditch High St, down Boundary Passage, onto Old Nichol St.
Kate MacGarry is one of the more established spaces, and has been based in the area for 12 years. Her roster is impeccable, with biennial-friendly names like
, as well as artists with a dose of humour like
or graphic freedom like
. This is a grown-up gallery that still manages to feel fresh.
Viner has changed location numerous times in London, moving from Hackney to a converted garage in Mayfair. This itinerant gallery has settled East again, in a beautiful bright space next to Kate MacGarry. Viner keeps his list tight, balancing local talents like
with America’s art rebels, like
Turn right and right again at Club Row; turn left at Bethnal Green Rd.
E. French Riviera | 309 Bethnal Green Rd., E2 6AH
This delightful project space, founded by artists Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski, exhibits artists largely without representation. As a brilliant platform for experimentation, the gallery’s past shows have featured artists like Lucy Woodhouse,
, and Thomas Dozol, and often incorporate the shop window itself in refreshing ways.
Turn left, then left again down Pollard Row; take the third right down Old Bethnal Green Rd.; Teesdale St. is on your left.
F. Supplement | 96 Teesdale St. E2 6PU
This young space isn’t big but makes the most of what it has, often presenting sound and other transitory mediums. Artists like
, Laura Buckley, and Richard Sides have all worked with the space’s director Adam Thomas at early stages in their careers.
Head north on Teesdale St; turn right down Winkley St.; at Temple St., turn left then right down Hackney Rd. Cross the road and turn left.
G. Cell Project Space | 258 Cambridge Heath Rd., E2 9DA
Cell is one of the best places to catch artists that fuse moving image, sculpture, and technology. This is where
have enacted packed performances and young curators like Morgan Quaintance and Atillia Franchini Fattori have flexed their wings.
Turn right out of the gallery and continue up Cambridge Heath Rd. which turns into Mare St.
H. Space Studios | 129-131 Mare St., E8 3RH
Curator Paul Pieroni has transformed what was once an ignored exhibition space into one of the most important art hubs in East London. Often there are three concurrent exhibitions here, ranging from early
video experiments to debuts by young artists like Megan Rooney.
Cross the road and get the 106 or 254 bus to Three Colts Lane; cross and enter Witan St. and turn left.
Laura Bartlett has joined the grand dame of the East End, Maureen Paley, on this slip street, taking over
’ old studio for her second space in London. Bartlett’s artists invite subtle discovery; artists include
, Martin Skauen, and
Walk back to Cambridge Heath Rd. and turn right until it hits Whitechapel Rd.; cross over, turn left and go into the yard at 88 Mile End Rd.
J. Carlos/Ishikawa | Unit 4, 88 Mile End Rd., E1 4UN
The gallery could not be in a wilder location, set in a yard filled with taxi cabs, backstreet churches, and creative studios. Carlos/Ishikawa’s clean cubic interior is a brilliant contrast. Here young intellectual artists like Lloyd Corporation,
are making serious swathes in the art world.
Turn left and catch the overground train north from Whitechapel Station to Haggerston; exit right to Kingsland Rd.; turn right then left to Frederick Terrace.
K. Legion TV | 4-17 Frederick Terrace, E8 4EW
This small non-profit, which also has a thriving online exhibition programme, was founded in 2012 with an emphasis on cross-discipline collaboration. An exciting place to catch critic Laura Mulvey’s early film works alongside great projects from Yuri Pattison, Samara Scott, and Hannah Black.
After years at 17 Kingsland Rd., Seventeen gallery is on the cusp of moving to a new space in Haggerston, which launches this July. Seventeen has an incredible roster with post-internet names like
showing alongside very British playful intellectuals like
and David Blandy.
Go back to Kingsland Rd.
You have to look for this gallery, set back off the main street, but it’s worth finding. Limoncello was founded by ’s
wife Rebecca May Marston, and it has an offbeat edge to its artists, from the ceramics of
, to ’s
odd-pop, and Alice Browne’s haphazard abstract painting.
Access a Google Map of my guide, here.
Portrait by Jez Tozer.