Move over Tate: art sneaks onto the high street


An interesting thing is happening in London concerning contemporary art. Where previously we might flock to big museums such as Tate Modern to see work by our favourite artists, now it’s more likely that a gallery such as the Gagosian or White Cube will put on a comprehensive and free exhibition of their work. Some of the best art exhibitions I went to last year were in independent galleries, not national institutions.

It seems a good thing. Firstly, excitingly modern gallery spaces are popping up everywhere, you can’t swing a Russian oligarch in central London currently without bashing him into a new one. Secondly, galleries are making themselves more accessible for non-spending-mere-mortals such as ourselves, anyone can enter and most will also happily let you take photos, unlike our major national galleries.

Art is currently a very profitable product, what happens when it stops being so is anyone’s guess, but in a time when most government funding is being cut back, it’s a relief to know we can still see good art easily. There will inevitably be a bad consequence of this, there always is, but I am really enjoying the boom in gallery space and the ever changing art that comes with it.

And here’s another thing, these new gallery spaces are sneaking close to the high street, so in London you can pepper your shopping spree with fabulously arty  cultural pauses, such as at the charming Riflemaker Gallery in Soho’s Beak St (above) which is opposite Paul Smith, or at Sadie Cole’s Kingly Street gallery, which is on the way to Liberty and COS.

grahem fink

So what to see? Well definitely the lovely Riflemaker Gallery, which is just about to open a Stuart Pearson Wright exhibition Nomads (above) and Sadie Coles  new gallery (below) has the inspiring and very immersive show from Urs Fischer.sadie coles gallery

The Urs Fischer is a good one for visual merchandising inspiration….

sadie coles art

And newly opened on Hanover Square, right opposite the offices of Conde Nast and Vogue, is the Blain Southern gallery. If you look closely below you can just see H&M on Regent Street at the end of the road and it makes for a useful creative stop on the cut through from Bond Street.

blain southern gallery

Currently showing is the first solo exhibition by Kosovar artist Sislej Xhafa, I love the mattress spring heart below.

blain southern heart

Then just off Oxford Street, near John Lewis, is Dering Street which is stuffed with small and inspiring galleries, my favourite is the Ronchini Gallery, which is showing these colourful cut out canvases by Paolo Scheggi, I’d have definitely bought one of these if I had the cash.

rocini gall

These are details of two more, aren’t the colours fab?

cut outs 2

Next door is the Vigo Gallery, another favourite, where Zak Ove’s amazing work (below) is great for mannequin inspiration too.


Back by Hanover Square in George St is the new Victoria Miro gallery, which might look intimidating but inside they are happy to see you (it has a neat sliding door) and I really loved the Stan Douglas show Disco Angola, with its 70s images of disco paraphernalia that attempt to link New York to Angola. victoria miro gallery

There’s an underlying  seriousness to the work but I just loved the 70s clothes references (once again….Shallow? Moi?)

Stan Duglas at victoria miro

More Stan Douglas below.

stan douglas at victoria miro

There are plenty more new galleries to mention (and I haven’t even referenced Cork Street) but I’m worried I’m starting to bore you.

You see what I mean? Art everywhere, strategically placed close to shops, I don’t think I can ever remember having so much easy access to contemporary art and it sure makes shopping for clothes more fun. What’s happening with art galleries where you are? Is this a trend?


  • Louise says:

    Now if you could just produce a handy little map I think this could be a lovely January cheer up day!

  • amanda says:

    Ha ha! It would too, let me see if I can do something with google maps….Ax

  • Monix says:

    Truth Louise! That would be awesome Amanda.
    Love the Scheggi ones and going to use them for, ahem, ” inspiration” for invitations.
    M x

  • Tiffany says:

    Yes to a map … on the off-chance I move to London later this year.

  • Sana says:

    Thak you for this – I am glad someone else noticed too! Living in on the edge of Fitzrovia and Marylebone I am almost daily surprised by a new gallery popping up somewhere on my daily groceries/nursery/shopping run – Great Portland street has spruced up quite a bit and there are two galleries open there before you hit th mayhem of Oxford Circus not to mention Fitzrovia which is currently my favourite place in London :)

  • amanda says:

    Sana you are so right about Great Portland street and East Castle Street and the surrounds, was talking to people yesterday who love the Rock & Raven gallery. Will work on a map people! Will visit Fitzrovia Ax

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