London's secret galleries

Discover the London art galleries you never knew existed

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The Crypt Gallery

The Crypt Gallery Photo Rob Greig

There’s no shortage of venues to see art in London – from imposing major spaces such as Tate Britain and Tate Modern to East End galleries clustered around Shoreditch and Bethnal Green. But not all galleries are purpose-built white cubes or in central locations. Gallerists, like artists, are creative and enterprising people (many are or were artists themselves), so if there’s a vacant shop, an empty office or a disused basement it’s likely to be taken over and used to host exhibitions and events. These spaces may be off the beaten track, hidden from view and sometimes temporary but they’re well worth seeking out as they’ll often be showing art and artists that you won’t see anywhere else.

Secret galleries in London

Danielle Arnaud

There’s a venerable tradition of London gallerists showing art chez eux, beginning with East End pioneer Maureen Paley, whose gallery started life in her terraced house in Hackney in 1984. Danielle Arnaud has hosted exhibitions in her Georgian townhouse in Kennington – an area largely unburdened by art-world attention – since the mid-1990s. The chance to wander round elegant, furnished rooms makes looking at art here a more casual affair than the usual white cube experience. The surroundings are so pleasant, mind, that you may not wish to leave.

  1. 123 Kennington Rd, SE11 6SF
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Large Glass

In hip artworld slang a gallop is defined as a ‘fast-paced gallery and shop space’. Launched in July 2011 Large Glass (named after a Duchamp artwork) certainly fits the bill having already featured curated displays of artworks and artefacts by Franz West, Richard Wentworth, Susan Collis and others, alongside regular talks plus events that combine different artforms with culinary delights such as tastings and themed dinners.

  1. 392 Caledonian Rd, N1 1DN
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The Old Police Station

  • Free

This abandoned cop shop in deepest Deptford provides unique DIY spaces for artists to show and make art, from the original tiled cells (complete with latrines) that are used as intimate galleries, to the shipping containers in the courtyard that house busy studios and a small artist-run exhibition venue called Cartel. The Old Bill’s former mess hall has now become the official watering hole for south London’s new after-hours gallery gatherings on the last Friday of every month (Slam Fridays), because, frankly, what kind of cultural evening out would be complete without an overnight spell in the nick?

  1. 114-116 Amersham Vale, SE14 6LG
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Viktor Wynd Fine Art

Situated between Vyner Street and the Andrews Road gallery enclave, this Mare Street curiosity shop is both on the art circuit and determinedly off any beaten track. Peek through the windows and you’ll see a world in which velvet-cloaked Victorians, or perhaps The Mighty Boosh, might reside. Entering the shop, which is also the spiritual home of the esoterically minded Last Tuesday Society, reveals a wunderkammer of shells, skulls, taxidermy specimens and assorted oddities. Art gets a designated space in the first-floor gallery but, unsurprisingly, shows tend towards the eerily surreal.

  1. 11 Mare St, E8 4RP
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Users say

1 comments
Akienemeh Gregory
Akienemeh Gregory

Hello Sir/Madam, Am a art promoter and a sculptor, i will like to know the procedure to display artwork and sculpture in your gallery. I have two of my work(sculpture) which i want to sell, so please let me know how you go about having artwork display in your gallery... Best regards, Greg..