There are some great galleries in London and we enjoy going to as many as we can in order to see some of the best art around. In particular those galleries that showcase new and emerging artists as well as more general art from what could be described as the street and urban scene.
So in this post we’ve picked out our top go-to galleries for fresh urban artwork. Naturally because of our own East London location there’s a bit of a bias towards this neck of the woods but then that’s where some of the best urban art in the country can be found so I suppose that’s just about right.
So here they are, 10 of the best galleries to see street and urban art in London…
1. Curious Duke Gallery, Whitecross Street – curiousdukegallery.com
Of course we have to start at the Curious Duke Gallery, the recently expanded outfit which now also includes a framers on Whitecross Street. We’ve been following the journey of the gallery and it’s founder Eleni Duke for a good while now and we have regularly featured their artists on the blog. That in itself is a good sign for us, we keep getting drawn back to the gallery because the artists are good, often local and often starting out. It ticks all the boxes for us.
2. BSMT Space, Dalston – bsmt.co.uk
It is quite remarkable that the small BSMT Space gallery in Dalston should even find its way into this list, it was barely only a year ago that it started up with a big idea, a lot of passion and a basement in need of a lot of TLC. Fast forward to now and they have earned a stellar reputation in the street art scene for its promotion of artists, particularly new ones and its willingness to give these new and emerging artists a try. The gallery specialises in solo and group shows and doesn’t have a permanent collection so there is always something fresh and exciting about the work coming up.
3. Ben Oakley Gallery, Greenwich – benoakleygallery.com
Another gallery we just keep going back to. The Ben Oakley is a big favourite of ours and we’ve featured many of the artists on the gallery’s roster including the work of the galleries owner Ben Oakley himself. Nestled in a tiny street off Greenwich Market, the gallery has an earthy authentic feel and a loyal group of artists who work with it, no doubt inspired by Ben himself who builds great relationships and who will often hand over the curation process to the artist themselves so that they can have as much creative control as possible. Here’s a secret too, if you do visit then ask to see the first floor, it’s an aladdin’s cave full of great art.
4. Stolen Space, Osborne Street off Brick Lane – stolenspace.com
A list like this can never be complete without Stolen Space, the gallery owned by D*Face, himself a hugely popular street artist. The gallery itself tends to feature some of the very best street and urban artists from across the world and it can’t be denied that here is a gallery with a constantly strong body of work but then with that comes an equally high price point. We of course have a bias towards new and emerging artists so we don’t tend to feature Stolen Space much. However in saying that, the work is always top draw and it is always worth wandering into the Stolen Space gallery if you are passing along Brick Lane.
5. Pure Evil Gallery, Leonard Street – pureevilclothing.com
Another icon of the gallery scene in the East End, the Pure Evil on Leonard Street promotes heavily the work of Pure Evil himself, an iconic artist who has worked on the streets of Shoreditch for many years. In addition to his own work however, the gallery showcases street and urban artists from around the world although again, these tend to be established on the scene. The gallery is more traditional in that the work does change but there is a core permanent collection of art and artists and not much scope for the promotion of new work through solo shows which is important for us here on Inspiring City.
6. Well Hung Gallery, Hoxton Street – wellhung.co.uk
The ambitious little gallery in Hoxton has burst onto the scene over the past few years with a number of ambitious shows. Run by a brother and sister team it’s another space who seem to be focusing on local talent and who are prepared to take risks by devoting the space for good periods of time with quality exhibitions. The space also contains a framers in the basement.
7. Howard Griffin Gallery, Shoreditch High Street – howardgriffingallery.com
Of all the galleries in this list, the Howard Griffin has probably seen the greatest evolution. The brainchild of Street Art London founder Richard Howard-Griffin, the gallery found it’s feet initially by focusing on just a core group of artists but doing it well and going to town with some stand out exhibitions.
Now the gallery space is solely taken up by the work of Thierry Noir and it’s been that way for some time so impressive though the space is, it’s solely just focusing on the one artist at the moment. Instead the gallery seems to be changing tack and looking for other outside space and recently showcased the work of Iranian artist Mehdi Ghanyadloo in a giant underground hanger near Baker Street. Needless to say, that show was massive as they all are and it will be interesting to see what this gallery does next.
8. Unit 5 Gallery, Hackney Road – unit5gallery.co.uk
A recent addition to the roster of galleries in the East End is that of the house gallery of Alternative London, purveyor of excellent street art tours and graffiti workshops. It’s a little out of the way just off Hackney Road but still near enough to the heart of things and the shows so far have been excellent. The team at the gallery also have great links with the street art world, given that many are actually street artists and the fact that their fingers are well on the pulse of the latest activity given their popular street art tours which can often be seen traipsing round the east end.
9. 1963 Gallery, Various locations – 1963gallery.com
Formerly situated in Dalston, the 1963 Gallery is now rebranding as a roving gallery space curated by the 1963 but utilising different spots around the city in which to showcase the work of its artists. It’s a new direction for the organisers and one not without risks but it means that the reliance is no longer there in terms of having to manage an actual fixed spot. Instead the challenge is around finding innovative locations which might suit the work best. With their track record so far, the gallery can certainly pull off a show so it’s going to be exciting to see where they go next. You can read an interview with the galleries founder Ema Marinova here.
10. Graffik Gallery, Portobello Road – Graffik Gallery
One of the most famous urban art galleries, the Graffik has hosted a lot of shows over the years and made its name on the promotion of urban art. Situated on the Portobello road in Notting Hill it has hosted many a show over the years and even runs graffiti workshops. It also flies the flag for urban art in the west of London a bit of a novelty for our list given that a lot of our top picks are in the east end of the city.
For more features about the best place to see street art in London check out: