With Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi selling at a whopping $460 million in 2017, you may be wondering — “how did we get here?”. Seeing the authority of economic forces surrounding your favourite art may be disheartening and you may be longing for a remedy for this moral conflict.
With hearts full of soul we respond to your call: consider not-for-profit art galleries! Full of emerging talent, these are pillars of hope for art lovers like us. They range from community-centered pop-up spaces in London’s vibrant neighbourhoods to museum-scale giants funded by UK’s largest charitable trusts. We hope this list of our 10 favourite spaces serves you well as a source of inspiration for your weekend art agenda!
Given the unique mission of each one of them, it would be impossible to rank these exhibition spaces by quality. This list does, therefore, not assume any particular order.
The brainchild of well-renowned art historian and curator Dr. Ziba Ardalan, the Parasol Unit is a real inspiration for the rest of the not-for-profit London art scene. Bringing to London (often for the first time) groundbreaking ideas of international emerging artists, Parasol Unit also offers an engaging array of educational activities, ranging from exclusive curatorial talks to art classes for children.
- Hyon Gyon (23 January — 31 March 2019)
- THE SPARK IS YOU: Parasol Unit in Venice (9 May — 23 November 2019)
Address: 14 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW
Don’t know about you, but we are absolute suckers for Modern Italian Art!
What if we told you that London is home to one of the greatest collections of Modern Italian Art, with works ranging from Balla and Boccioni to de Chirico and Modigliani!
The gorgeous Georgian building also hosts a vibrant programme of temporary exhibitions, bringing to London the breadth of Italian elegance and experimentalism of the 20th century.
- Fausto Melotti: Counterpoint(16 January — 7 April 2019)
- Who’s Afraid of Drawing? Works on Paper from the Ramo Collection (17 April 2019 — 23 June 2019)
- £7.50, Concessions £5.50
- National Art Pass £3.75
- Free to school children and full time students with valid NUS ID card.
Address: Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, London, N1 2AN
Part of the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation in the scientific sphere, the Wellcome Collection is home to both permanent and temporary exhibitions aimed at using artistic representation to ignite and further public dialogue about individual and collective health.
The building is also home to a magnificent library with historical texts and one of the best reading spaces in London (…and possibly the world!).
- Medicine Now (until 1st April 2019)
- Medicine Man (permanent)
- Smoke and Mirrors: the Psychology of Magic (11 April — 19 September 2019)
Address: Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Rd, London, NW1 2BE
Set in a Victorian-style Methodist Chapel just a short walk from Camden Market, the collection is part of an international programme of exhibitions and partnerships across the UK, USA and Finland. The collection’s London venue hosts an active engagement programme, comprising of:
“the Invites series, which offers emerging artists without UK commercial gallery representation the opportunity to produce a solo exhibition and event, and Testing Ground, an annual season exploring art and education working with London’s premier universities.”
During our visits, the space did not fail to renew itself in its ever-shifting consciousness.
- Rachel Rossin: Stalking the Trace (21 March–7 July 2019)
- Zabludowicz Collection Invites: Jake Elwes (21 March–28 April 2019)
- World Receivers (21 March–7 July 2019)
Address: Zabludowicz Collection, 176 Prince of Wales Road, London, NW5 3PT
Korean Cultural Centre
Launched under the oversight of the ‘Embassy of the Republic of Korea’ London and situated near Trafalgar Square,
With a programme ranging from contemporary art exhibitions of Korea’s emerging talent to Korean film and literature nights, the centre is an impressive one-stop-shop for your future love affair with Korean culture. They continue to partner with the most influential institutions such as Art Night, Delfina Foundation, Hayward Gallery, Ikon Gallery, Serpentine Galleries, The Showroom, Spike Island, V&A and the Whitechapel Gallery.
- AT SLG: Haegue Yang: Tracing Movement (8 — 24 March 2019)
- The Tour: Early Korean Cinema(3 March — 7 April 2019)
- Salomé Quartet(26 March 2019)
- Minhwa: The Beauty of Korean Folk Paintings (5 April — 18 May 2019)
- The Court Dancer by Kyung-Sook Shin(24 April 2019)
Address: Korean Cultural Centre UK, Grand Buildings, 1–3 Strand, London WC2N 5BW
South London Gallery
Titled as “the most innovative art space in the capital” by Alicia Burrell (The Sunday Times), the SLG is a real ‘founding father’ of London’s not-for-profit cultural programme — established in 1891 to ‘bring art to the people of south London’.
With numerous free-to-access public galleries, a creative space for local families and two permanent gardens, the gallery assembles an extraordinary year-round programme of British and international emerging artists.
- Haegue Yan: Tracing Movement (8 March — 26 May 2019)
- Laurie Robins: ‘Free Trade or Else’* (8 March — 26 May 2019)
- The Source: Works from the South London Gallery Collection (8 March — 26 May 2019)
Address:65–67 Peckham Road, London, SE5 8UH
With 36 years of promoting some of the UK’s most exciting emerging talent, Chisenhale’s East End space operates as an exhibition hall, production agency, research centre, and a community resource.
It focuses on commissioning and producing works that allow artists to conceptualise more ambitious and groundbreaking projects.
- Ghislaine Leung: CONSTITUTION (25 January — 24 March 2019)
- Mandy El-Sayegh: Cite Your Sources (12 April — 9 June 2019)
- Ima-Abasi Okon (28 June 2019–1 September 2019)
Address: Chisenhale Gallery, 64 Chisenhale Road, London E3 5QZ
Tucked right behind the grandeur of the Buckingham Palace, the Delfina Foundation is a key artistic hub in London. Founded in 2007, the foundation offers international artists a residency programme that encourages collaboration, innovation and experimentation.
With a rich programme of exhibitions, curatorial talks, and collaborations with other art institutions, Delfina Foundations’ last exhibition “Power Play” explored “the power dynamics at play in relationships between individuals, institutions and the state.”
New exhibition announced soon.
Address: Delfina Foundation, 29/31 Catherine Place, London, SW1E 6DY
Priding themselves as an institution which encourages “risk-taking and experimentation”, Studio Voltaire supports careers of up-and-coming artists by organising their first solo exhibitions in London. Housing the production process of over forty-five artists in their on-site studios, Studio Voltaire has established itself as a pioneer of London’s avant-garde.
“Studio Voltaire has become one of the most energising spaces in London. Its ad–hoc approach and knack for spotting young talent makes it a formidable presence on the city’s art scene.” — The Guardian
- The Oscar Wilde Temple by McDermott & McGough (3 October 2018–28 April 2019)
- Rand/Goop by Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley (5 July — 6 October 2019)
Address: Studio Voltaire, 1a Nelsons Row, London, SW4 7JR
Having heroically transformed a long-neglected space in the heart of Hoxton 20 years ago, PEER has since stood at the core of the local community. Beyond that, PEER-commissioned works by emerging artists have later featured at the British Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale, Guggenheim Museum in New York, as well as having been acquired by Tate’s collection.
With a spirited programme, artist-led talks, workshops and charitable events such as “Adopt a Tub”, PEER is sure to steal your heart just as it stole ours.
Jadé Fadojutimi: The Numbing Vibrancy of Characters in Play (1 February — 6 April 2019)
Address: 97–99 Hoxton Street, London, N1 6QL