London is one of the world’s undoubted hotspots for street art, but since the money markets tanked and city boys are no longer lining their halls with street art prints and aerosolled canvases, it’s also proving harder to sell. However, with one clearout of street art losers and poster-boy chancers out of the way, we can definitively say these are the ten best dedicated gallery spaces to discover this genre in the city. It’s still street art, only now mostly indoors and yours to browse and buy.
The best street art galleries in London
A Brick Lane railway arch turned gallery, Black Rat prides itself on championing the artists it represents. Expect an eclectic and engaging programme of activities. Past projects include launch events for cult street art mag VNA, a huge wall-like installation by Swoon, community workshops by Matt Small and group shows exploring how street artists use paper and printing techniques in their work.
Brick Lane Gallery has recently expanded and now takes in two sites: the original one on the bustling street art hub of Brick Lane and a new space, the Annexe, in nearby Whitechapel. Both galleries exhibit a mixed bag of new and established international and UK artists.
Formerly known as Artrepublic, the gallery rebranded last year as Lawrence Alkin Gallery when they moved to new premises. Still dedicated to exhibiting affordable art and producing limited edition prints by Eine, Speedy Graphito and Banksy, the new incarnation continues to bring street art to the masses.
Best known as the man who brought us Banksy, street art entrepreneur Steve Lazarides has two London galleries, as well as one in Newcastle. Lazarides in Rathbone Place caters for the serious collector, with shows by big names such as Invader and Anthony Micallef, while The Outsiders, in Greel Street is a more laid back affair, specialising in exhibitions by up-and-coming talent and offering limited edition prints, studies and books at wallet friendly prices.
Even among the exceedingly pretty shop fronts of Colombia Road, Nelly Duff stands out thanks to its colourful ‘Day of the Triffids’ inspired exterior - a collaboration between Sweet Toof, Mr Wim and the Toaster. One of London’s first commercial street art galleries, Nelly Duff continues to show and sell prints by the likes of Eine and Pure Evil, alongside graphic design, illustration and tattoo art.
In addition to running an exhibition programme Pictures on Walls sell signed and numbered editions and products by a whole host of street artists and like-minded individuals including Bast, Banksy, Cyclops, EVOL, Invader, Sweet Toof, Modern Toss, David Shrigley and others. They also offer a Banksy authentification service where you can upload images and documentation of any Banksys in your possession. if successful, on payment of a fee, you'll receive a certificate of authenticity.
Run by local street artist Pure Evil - don’t be put off by the name, he’s exceptionally friendly – this small but important space has a defiantly indie ethos. With a shabby-chic interior and ‘no poseurs’ door policy, the gallery has been hosting art shows, events and fundraisers, including an recent art auction for injured graffiti legend King Robbo, since 2007. There’s also a music production studio in the basement.
Set up in 2007, Signal defines its remit as contemporary painting, rather than street art. With a focus on figurative work, the Hoxton space certainly has the feel of a commercial fine art gallery but canvases by pioneers of the movement, from C215 to Shephard Fairey, regularly feature in group and solo shows.
Over the past few years Stolen Space has justifiably garnered a reputation for being one of the capital's prime street art destinations. Housed in the Truman Brewery, this artist-run space balances grit with flair, hosting ambitious, high profile shows by Word to Mother, D*Face and others.
You can't miss Village Underground thanks to the four brightly coloured, graffiti-covered tube carriages, now artists' studios, perched on its roof. The recycled Jubilee line carriages, and accompanying shipping containers, accommodate a community of artists, writers, designers, filmmakers and musicians. Their renovated Victorian warehouse space hosts exhibitions, concerts theatre, live art and club nights. Plans are underway to turn one of the exterior walls, a spot already popular with local street artists, into a permanent exhibition site.