My Top 15 Inspirational Art Venues in London
Three of my children live in London, so Mike and I visit the city very regularly. London is a metropolis I would always choose to visit anyway; it feels like ‘my’ city, even though I live quite far away. Besides visiting family, I make a point of going to London to keep my finger on the pulse of what is happening within the wider art world, and in August, I’ll be hosting my own solo show in London at the Signet Contemporary Gallery.
This year, I’m looking forward to taking advantage of my trips to London to see the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, which I know will be very inspiring, especially as this show is coordinated by Grayson Perry. I’m sure the exhibition will showcase a lot of new talent and will include people who wouldn’t normally get the chance to exhibit their work in such an established and respected venue. It’s exciting for me to see the work of artists I’ve never come across before, who offer a cutting edge new vision and who all capture the world in a different way.
I also like to return to many of London’s galleries to revisit some of my favourite old masters. When I want to see examples of incredible technique, I head to Tate Britain in Pimlico. What I find so inspiring about London, though, is that there are examples of creativity and art wherever you go: there’s so much vibrant wall art and graffiti to see, especially in East London. It’s this blend of traditional art that you can find in places like Tate Britain and The National Gallery, mixed with the dynamic, unexpected perspectives that I see in street art and in places like the Saatchi Gallery, that I find particularly exhilarating.
London showcases some of the most exciting artwork around, so I’ve put together a list of my fifteen favourite art venues in the city. I hope you find my suggestions useful!
I may be a little biased but my number one choice would be Signet Contemporary Gallery. I will be showing my work from the last few months at my solo exhibition at the Gallery, which will be on from 11th-19th August. I am so very proud and excited by this show and would really love to see you there, so do drop by if you’re in the area.
Tate Modern is a favourite for its dramatic setting in the former Bankside Power station. The latest extension to the gallery is another example of innovative architecture, and it offers wonderful views across London from the viewing platform at the top. Tate Modern is a brilliant melting pot of international modern and contemporary art: there is always something surprising to see, whether in the permanent collection, or the fantastic special exhibitions. Whatever else I go to see, I always make sure I take a peek at the huge colour field paintings in the permanent collection, as they never fail to deeply move and inspire me.
I love to visit this gallery and immerse myself in the beauty of the old masters. J.M.W Turner is a particular favourite of mine, and his dreamy atmospheric canvases inform my own practice.Tate Britain has the largest collection of works by Turner in the world, so I feel very lucky to be able to visit the gallery frequently.
This small gallery in Mayfair often shows the beautiful work of one of my heroes, the Scottish artist Peter Doig, who is one of the most renowned living figurative painters of our time. His use of magic realism transports me to another word and his genius as a colourist is awe-inspiring.
Located near my daughter’s home, the Dulwich Picture Gallery is always a favourite with our family. This art venue is a vibrant cultural hub with many exciting travelling exhibitions. We recently went to see a large selection of some of the life works of David Milne, one of Canada’s greatest modern painters. I was struck by his mastery of paint and his fascination with light and colour.
The Royal Academy hosts some of the best exhibitions in London. The Summer exhibition is invariably a must see for me, and I am particularly excited by this year’s event, as it is curated by the colourful, experimental, emotive and funny Grayson Perry.
This gallery exhibits work by many major European artists, with an impressive permanent collection. The National Gallery is currently showing a truly wonderful exhibition on Claude Monet, one of the world’s finest painters. The exhibition is called Monet and Architecture, and it is the first exhibition to ever examine Monet’s work through the buildings that he painted, bringing together over 75 of his paintings.
The Photographers’ Gallery, which opened in London in the early 1970s, was the first public UK gallery dedicated to photography. I have many dear friends who are exceptional photographers, and I love the blurring of the line that frequently occurs between photography and painting, so I’m always stimulated by a trip to this gallery.
The Wallace Collection is one of London’s lesser-known gems and is a treasure trove of paintings, ceramics, sculpture and furniture housed in a beautiful building near Baker Street. Entrance is free for The Wallace Collection, and there’s also a lovely courtyard cafe and gift shop, so it’s easy to lose hours browsing this remarkable space.
Angela Flowers first opened an art gallery in London in 1970. Now, Flowers Gallery has branches in both Mayfair (Cork Street) and Shoreditch (Kingsland Road), and there is also a sister gallery in New York’s Chelsea. Flowers Gallery has a rolling programme of interesting exhibitions, and a recent favourite of mine was seeing the beautiful paintings and prints by Tom Hammick.
I greatly admire the vision and ethos of the Saatchi Gallery in their dedication to exhibiting young artists whose work has often been previously unseen. I show my own work with Saatchi Art online, and it is a privilege to work with and be featured by such a well respected gallery.
This stunning museum houses the world’s largest collection of decorative art and design, with over 2.3 million objects in the permanent collection. I always find it fascinating to explore the V&A’s historic collections, and decorative art does influence my own practice. The glorious fabrics on display at the V&A are particularly mesmerising to me.
The Serpentine Galleries boast a popular collection of modern and contemporary art. Work of emerging artists, as well as internationally established practitioners, are championed in the galleries’ ongoing exhibitions. Entrance to the Serpentine Galleries is free, and the gorgeous location of the two galleries in Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park is a further bonus.
This gallery, contained within Somerset House, is a must-visit for fans of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, as it displays some beautiful works by Monet, Manet, Cezanne,
van Gogh, Gauguin and Degas. From September 2018, The Courtauld is closing for at least two years as extensive refurbishments are carried out, so now is the time to go if you’ve not yet paid it a visit!
Of course, Columbia Flower Market isn’t an art venue, but I do like to throw a wild card into the mix, and I find the vibrant colours and bustling atmosphere of this Sunday flower market inspires my own paintbrush. Also, the fantastic street art in the nearby streets of Shoreditch are well worth seeking out. I find this map of the street art sites and art galleries in the area particularly useful.
I hope you enjoyed my suggestions for inspirational art venues in London. If you’d like to save this post to refer to later, then simply pin the image below to your Pinterest board using the ‘save’ button in the top left corner when hovering over the image: