Blow your mind at London's best alternative galleries

Just look at what you can see at an alternative gallery...

So many of us had our relationships with art galleries scarred from an early age after some tediously dull school trips... I mean, really, who wants to to be examining the way that light liberates a scene when you could be tripping up Kelly Barratt and grabbing a handful of her Wotsits? (That's the delicious cheesy snack... nothing sordid.)

Luckily, in the age of the alternative art gallery, we have an opportunity to right those wrongs. As well as some truly boundary-pushing art you can also experience a dollop of live music, chat, poetry, debate and, remarkably... free booze.

So even if you subscribe to Grayson Perry's musings that "most art is shit"... you can, at least, be viewing it with a free glass of bubbly.

Parasol Unit
14 Wharf Road Islington N1 7RW
Region: Islington
Nearest Station: Old Street (0.4 miles)

AIL Says: A Foundation for Contemporary Art, the Parasol Unit hosts all sorts of artistic media. Located a short distance from Old Street station the modest gallery space continuously breaks out new projects involving photography, poetry and installation work.

Vyner Street Gallery
23 Vyner Street Bethnal Green E2 9DG
Region: Bethnal Green
Nearest Station: Cambridge Heath (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: For those that might agree with the decree on Grayson Perry’s last RCA postcard -that ‘Most Art Is Shit’ - a trip down Vyner Street might tempt you into changing your mind. First Thursdays sees the galleries of this narrow east-end street open their doors and serve up FREE booze to go along with some of the most interesting breakthrough work around. Get inspired by the drinks and end up seeing something great.

Large Glass
392 Caledonian Road Islington N1 1DN
Region: Islington
Nearest Station: Caledonian Road & Barnsbury

AIL Says: Large Glass is both a shop space and gallery located on Caledonian Road. This space is home to uber-hip new work so you can expect to find the newest of the new up in the window and in the store. With its regular events, which include screenings, talks and other creative ways to get people together, it’s the Caledonian Road’s very own curiosity shop.

Haunch Of Venison
103 New Bond Street Mayfair W1S 1ST
Region: Mayfair
Nearest Station: Bond Street (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: Exhibiting some leading lights in modern art, the Haunch of Venison is the star of Mayfair’s private gallery set. Monthly late night viewings give the public a chance to explore the multi-storey building and the work on display from the likes of Thomas Heatherwick and Nathan Coley.

79 Beak Street Soho W1F 9SU
Region: Soho
Nearest Station: Piccadilly Circus (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: Set up in the architectural fantasy of, you guessed it, an old gun maker, Riflemaker is a gallery space spread over five floors. Exhibiting work by innovative up-and-coming artists and established names alike, Riflemaker has been name dropped by anyone and everyone who wants to appear ‘current’. And you can see why. The gallery presented the first London retrospective of Martin Kippenberger and has also featured work by William Boroughs amongst many others. Exhibitions usually come accompanied by Monday evening events with the focus on live performances, talks, poetry and music.

The Wellcome Collection
183 Euston Road

AIL Says: ‘A destination for the incurably curious’, the Wellcome Collection is a leading light in London’s scene. Exploring links between life, art, medicine and performance, you can expect exhibitions and events - focused through science – that offer a diversity missing in some institutions.

Old Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane

AIL Says: Alternating between the group shows of its roster of contemporary artists and individual exhibitions, there’s always something to attract the art-thirsty to the Stolen Space Gallery. Printing, painting, stencils and installations have all featured and there is often the chance to purchase affordable originals. Contemporary art and street art are the main staples.

Shoreditch Town Hall
380 Old Street Shoreditch EC1V 9LT
Region: Shoreditch
Nearest Station: Bethnal Green (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: It may no longer be a town hall officially, but the venue is still in use for wedding ceremonies, live events and location work. However, the basement below is a reminder of Shoreditch Town Hall’s past with its exposed brickwork, industrial lighting and altogether trad chic. Exhibitions frequently pop up in the basement, with the location as much of a draw as the work on display.

Cabinet Gallery
Apartment 6 49 - 59 Old Street Old Street EC1V 9HX
Region: Old Street
Nearest Station: Barbican (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: Having moved around a bit in the past, Cabinet Gallery has found a resting place on Old Street. Expect contemporary art of any description and the chance to see big artists in a refined setting. Visit the website for details or show up to the space, which has displayed work by the likes of Lucy McKenzie, Tariq Alvi, Danny McDonald and Bonnie Camplin.


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