East London culture guide: Our top eight art galleries


The Whitechapel Gallery. Pic; Henry Lawford (Flickr)

The historic Whitechapel Gallery           Pic: Henry Lawford (Flickr)

For decades East London has had a reputation as the city’s centre of contemporary art. Today the area boasts more than 150 galleries hosting exhibitions and public talks.

Here are the eight most interesting galleries in the heart of East London

1   Whitechapel Gallery

Whitechapel Gallery sits at the foot of Brick Lane and has been premiering the talents of contemporary artists since 1901 when the first exhibitions were held.

For over a century the gallery (77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1) has showcased the works of various world-famous modern artists including Pablo Picasso,  Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.


Stour space. Pic; Petr Kasparek (Flickr).

Stour space          Pic: Petr Kasparek (Flickr).

2. Stour Space

There are hundreds of individual venues around Hackney Wick dedicated to the promotion and production of good quality art and design in small spaces.

Stour Space (7 Roach Road, Tower Hamlets E3) is one of the venues that provides a great showcase for Hackney Wick’s artist community, offering exhibitions, performance and studio space for the development of creative enterprises.


Abdel Abdessemed's, Habibi. Pic; joanneconlon (Flickr).

Abdel Abdessemed’s, Habibi 2003 on display at Parasol Unit        Pic: joanneconlon (Flickr).

3. Parasol  Unit

Founded in 2004 by Dr Ziba Ardalan, Parasol Unit is now a 5,000 square foot warehouse renovated by the Italian architect Claudio Silvestrin. Parasol Unit is a non-profit art institution for contemporary art that is purely for public use.

The gallery (14 Wharf Road, N1) is based on the Kunsthalle model and aims to develop the relationship between each exhibiting artist and the foundation.


4. Hundred Years Gallery

The Hundred Years Gallery has been hosting international and London-based artists since 2011 and is dedicated to demonstrating contemporary art innovations.

Hundred Years Gallery (13 Pearson Street, E2) does not stick to the traditional static art form, focusing instead on digital, performing arts and installation.

The owners supply Monmouth coffee in a comfortable corner of the gallery with a number of design books and a basement that can be used as a photography studio.


5. The Residence Gallery

The Residence Gallery was established in 2005 and has undergone some transformation since. The gallery was originally located in a Whitechapel hospital, but is now based at Victoria Park Road in Hackney.

The gallery (229 Victoria Park Road, E9) focuses on installation and multimedia exhibitions, constantly trying to redefine the concept of contemporary art. The artists featured here are focused on pushing the boundaries and perceptions of visual art.


Tilo Baumgärtel's work. Pic; STML (Flickr).

Tilo Baumgärtel’s work at the Wilkinson Gallery      Pic: STML (Flickr).

6. Wilkinson Gallery

The Wilkinson Gallery is one of the many galleries to open in East London in the past 20 years. It was founded in 1998 by Amanda and Anthony Wilkinson who also run the space.

Since it launched, the gallery (50-58 Vyner Street, E2) has retained its reputation as an innovative space to promote both existing and upcoming artists.


7. Union Gallery

Emerging artists can be found all over East London, and galleries such as Union Gallery are supporting them. For many of the artists with work on show in Union Gallery, this is the first time they have been exhibited in the UK.

Union Gallery was founded in 2013 by Jari Lager and now represents a small number of young emerging artists, including Matthew Stone, Soon Hak Kwon and Rose Wylie.

The gallery is located in the vibrant East End and they also run a dynamic programme of external exhibitions and events.


8. Waterside Contemporary

Waterside Contemporary, established in 2008, is a development of an ambitious, vibrant multidisciplinary and intergenerational programme. Just like many of the galleries in Hackney, Waterside Contemporary focuses on multi-disciplinary artists as well.

The gallery (2 Clunbury Street, N1) represents a combination of British and international artists, exhibiting institutional quality to the London art audience and to the general art market.

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