Routes to inspiration: South London Arts Map launches

Bearspace on Deptford High Street is one of the 90 galleries taking part in the initiative. Photo: South London Art Map

A new initiative showcasing the best of South London art launches today.

The South London Art Map will feature an interactive website covering more than 90 galleries and will co-ordinate late gallery openings and art tours in South London.

There will also be an accompanying printed map available from art galleries across the capital.

Julia Alvarez, Director of South London Art Map, said: “South London is the perfect location for the production of contemporary art. With an intriguing history, vibrancy and the presence of leading art colleges, Goldsmiths College and Camberwell College of Arts, South London is alive with galleries of all sizes and styles – from exhibitions in local authority car parks to old schools and shop spaces.”

The initiative will also introduce “Last Fridays”, a South London equivalent of East London’s “First Thursdays” in which galleries across the East End hold late-night openings on the first Thursday of each month.

Local artists will contribute to the scheme by running local art tours to pass on their knowledge on the South London art scene.

Ollie Hogan, from South London arts group Lucky PDF, said: “Most have heard about ’emerging’ South London for a long time now, but I would rather describe a lot of the artists, galleries and groups around here as having ‘come of age’. South London is the premier producer of progressive forms of art making and display in London and the Art Map can only help to further the interests of the art community here.”

However, not all of South London’s artists are enthusiastic about the scheme.

Felix Petty, from South London arts collective Off Modern said:

“I don’t know how much of a benefit it’ll have on the area or the artists who work and live there. The strength of South London’s art scene is in its community, coming from grassroots and working upwards. It’s got such a strong DIY, friendly, inclusive approach amongst students, young artists, philosophers and writers.

“Its other strength is that it is so different from the East End. I’m not sure it really needs an equivalent to their First Thursdays; it’s always thrived on spontaneous, one-off, artist-led events, though I’m sure these will continue to happen.”

The launch party will take place on Friday from 18:30-20:00 across 90 galleries in South London. There will also be after parties held in Deptford, Peckham and Bankside.

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