In this feature on street art and graffiti inspired creative art in London we round up the capital’s 10 best street art galleries. Plus the top places to view or buy street art in the city of London, the capital of the United Kingdom.
For some of us graffiti still conjures up rough images rebellious youth decorating walls, pathways and subway trains with their angst fuelled spray paint art. Graffiti, or street art which is the more appeasing moniker is a unique and expressive style of creative art. Street art is everything that fine art is not. It can be crude, bold, rough around the edges. Or striking colorful and full of messages of rebellion and political ire. Street art is all of these things and more and this is what helps to make it so exciting and fresh.
From Vandalism to an Overnight Populist Urban Art Trend
To begin with, labelled as graffiti, it was an urban art form that hard to work out. Graffiti was more associated with crude vandalism than with any artistic association. Perhaps this had more to do with the canvas. After all not every business, home or landmark always benefited from being decorated under cover of darkness. No matter how good the artist one should always ask permission from the land owner right! We looked at street art across the world previously here on DesignBump and clearly the artists do not always ask.
As graffiti became spray painting, so often referred to as bombing and sometimes as tagging. It became difficult to really warm to as an art form. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s street art was an unpopular art medium in so many ways. One reviled by business and property owners as a public menace. Art that symbolized unrest and anger and used as a conduit for all kinds of messages.
Then without warning and pretty much immediately graffiti started to be tolerated and was even considered trendy. Next it was fashionably relabelled as street art or urban art. Almost over night what was previously called vandalism in some quarters became trendy and hip. From then on it’s been rather hard to miss around most city urban areas as a popular and valuable art medium.
Not only that street (urban) art has evolved into a complete living style. Meaning that the art form has extended its way into other products, all of which have an urban feel. Shops and retailers now stock urban and ‘street’ themed apparel and street branded fashion items. As well as practical items that help street artists perfect their work. You can find a variety of these places at galleries and via online niche retailers such as bombingscience and others.
Popular Street Art and Urban Design Video Galleries
If you are the impatient sort we have collated some of the best street art galleries that London has to offer into a cool video carousel. To start planning a culture trip to one of the numerous art galleries we recommend that you read on.
London, The Trending Street Art Hotspot
Of course the city of London is beyond doubt one of the world’s assured hotspots for vibrant thought provoking street art. The highly decorated tube trains and stations have long since given way to designated street art canvases and numerous art galleries. That said, since the financial markets dropped like a rock the once flush city bankers and traders are fewer and fewer. Most of these guys are certainly no longer decorating their spacious Canary Wharf apartments with cool original street art prints and hip aerosolized canvases. The knock on effect of the change in spending habits is that high end street art is also proving much harder to place for sale.
It is not that street art is not affordable, it can be but equally the work of some street artists is spiralling in value. As the perceived cost of the most revered pieces of street art rockets in value we may no longer be hanging it up proudly in swish Mayfair residences.
The Best Street Art Galleries to Visit in London
Instead of purchasing investor art, attending some of London’s premier street art galleries is the very best way to experience this exciting trending city art genre. If in the mood to purchase, consider limited edition prints rather than pricey originals.
So here are the top ten most highly recommended galleries and hanging areas to discover the street art medium in the city of London. Of course it’s still bold rough and ready street art. Only now mostly found indoors in swanky plush art galleries and it can all be yours to explore and purchase at leisure.
Brick Lane Gallery
The Brick Lane Gallery is a pretty good starting point for young adults wanting to learn about the street art genre. In fact the Brick Lane Art Gallery has recently gained a lot of extra much sought after space and now takes in two unique gallery sites. These firstly being the original art gallery area which is situated on the bustling and trendy street art hub that is London’s Brick Lane.
Then there is a more recent gallery location which is tastefully called the Annexe. The Annexe is actually situated in the nearby region of Whitechapel. Both of these street art galleries offer a mixed set of up and coming urban art and specialist pieces from established UK and Internationally based street artists.
Lazarides Street Art Galleries
The Lazarides series of art galleries are the brainchild of the businessman who gave us street artist ‘Banksy’. Street art trader and entrepreneur Steve Lazarides actually has two rather remarkable London galleries under his wing. There is a further art gallery in the north east England city of Newcastle.
Lazarides which can be visited in Rathbone Place caters for the extremely serious and dedicated street art investor and collector. Expect to discover premium art and exhibits while exploring these galleries. Along with shows and exhibits by the most significant talent in street art today such as Anthony Micallef and Invader to name but a few.
The other gallery which is ‘The Outsiders, situated in nearby Greel Street is a much more relaxed and easy going place to visit and view the art exhibits. The Outsiders location is a street art gallery focussing on events and exhibitions by new up and coming street art and various urban talent. The gallery also offers limited edition art prints, engaging genre studies and intriguing art books at more affordable rates.
Pictures on Walls
Visitors to this art gallery will find a broad spectrum of art for immediate purchase. Art found here includes awesome pieces by popular artists such as Banksy, Bast, Cyclops, Invader, Sweet Toof, David Shrigley and many other popular street artists.
Pictures on Walls also offers collectors and investors a useful Banksy authentication service to clients. For those street art collectors lucky enough to own a valuable Banksy. They can go ahead and upload images of their artwork and documentation. Then gain a genuine certificate of authenticity from the gallery.
The Nelly Duff Gallery
Nelly Duff is a contemporary commercial art gallery in Shoreditch, London. It is located at the base of Columbia Road market which is found in the East End of London. The gallery works with artists such as Ben Eine, The Toaster, and other popular urban and contemporary artists.
Indeed some shop fronts and gallery exteriors look clean and tidy but do nothing at all to really entice you inside. Not so with the Nelly Duff Gallery. The Nelly Duff art gallery stands out prominently in the area due to it’s striking ‘Day of the Triffids’ themed decorating outside. In fact the exterior gallery design was a art collaboration between artists and designers Sweet Toof, The Toaster and Mr Wim. Even if you do not particularly warm to the street art genre, visitors to the local area cannot fail to notice the art gallery and the amazing exterior design.
As one of London’s original commercial street art vendors and galleries. Nelly Duff continues to display and sell street art prints by artists such as Pure Evil and Eine among others. Visitors to Nelly Duff will also be able to browse numerous examples of graphic design, illustrations and gorgeous tattoo art. The later of which we devote an entire body art category to here at DesignBump.
The Signal Gallery was launched a decade ago, way back in 2007. In fact the Signal Gallery defines its proper purpose as one that concentrates on contemporary paintings, rather than predominantly street art. Granted the artwork most frequently on display at the Signal Gallery does focus on figurative art works and exhibits many contemporary paintings.
Nevertheless it certainly has the ambience of a fine art gallery. However visitors to the area should expect to come across canvases by some of the true pioneers of the street art scene. Artists such as Shephard Fairey and other artists, regularly feature in both the collaborative and solo art exhibits at the Signal Gallery.
Village Underground Gallery
The Village Underground Gallery stands out with its distinctive urban style and exterior. This is due to the collection of stand out, brightly coloured, graffiti emblazoned former tube carriages. These are not actually tube train carriages anymore. Raised on the roof of the Village Underground art gallery the carriages have been converted into serious art studios.
The recycled and renovated Jubilee line tube carriages, along with the adjacent freight containers, accommodate a passionate and focussed community of busy urban artists, book authors, graphic designers, filmmakers and up and coming musicians.The Village Underground Gallery Victorian era warehouse hosts scores of niche exhibitions, musical concerts, theatre production, live art sessions and popular club and social nights.
There are also plans afoot to modify one of the large exterior wall spaces at the Village Underground Gallery. A location already very popular with local urban artists. The plan is to turn the site into a permanent exhibition site for their work and those of others in the street art community.
Visitors to StolenSpace will discover a unique art gallery in London hosting temporary, contemporary underground and urban art exhibitions. Over the past few years in particular StolenSpace has justifiably garnered a sound reputation for being one of London’s stand out street art and urban galleries.
The StolenSpace gallery is an artist run environment that aims to balance steely grit and determination with creative flair and imagination. The gallery often hosts ambitious public events. Including such events as shows by Word to Mother, D*Face. Plus numerous other street artists and performers attend with their works.
StolenSpace can be found in the Truman Brewery. So just visit their web site to discover more about their gallery, artists and exhibits presently on show and upcoming.
Pure Evil Gallery
A showcase of Urban artist Pure Evil’s work, alongside other street art in a wooden floored space. The gallery is run by local street and urban artist ‘Pure Evil.’ Do not be scared however as this is merely a moniker he’s exceptionally friendly artist.
This compact urban gallery has a distinctive indie style. Visitors will find a shabby-chic interior and ‘no flash snobs’ door policy. The Pure Evil street art gallery has been busy hosting all kinds of unique and niche art shows, events and fundraisers. Often the details of which can be found on their web site or social media pages.
While in the basement of the Pure Evil Gallery a music production studio can also be found. This gallery does what it says it does on the tin. With no airs and graces, just cool urban street art and stylish themes.
Black Rat Projects
Black Rat Projects was initiated in 2007. For six years it was located in a converted and renovated railway arch in the district of Shoreditch, which is found in East London. Indeed Black Rat prides itself on heralding the street and urban artists it proudly represents. Since first opening their gallery doors; they have been both supporting and developing the growing careers of many popular UK and international artists.
Visitors to the gallery should anticipate an electric and engaging programme of events and various urban themed activities. Recent Black Rat projects include launch promotional events for cult street art magazine ‘VNA.’ Plus a huge installation in the form of a wall by Swoon among many others.
Up and coming artists heading to the gallery can participate in community workshops held by Matt Small. The Black Rat Projects also provides all kinds of useful group shows. These shows explore how talented urban street artists use paper, niche products and materials and other specialist printing techniques in their artistry. Learn more about this London street gallery by visiting their web site.
Lawrence Alkin Gallery
This New Compton Street London gallery is best known for dealing in contemporary, urban, street and pop art. Previously the gallery was better known as Artrepublic. However the gallery rebranded last year as Lawrence Alkin Gallery when they moved to new premises.
In spite of the rebranding the Lawrence Alkin Gallery is still completely dedicated to exhibiting affordable premium art. The art gallery produces and sells limited edition prints by Eine, Speedy Graphito and Banksy to name but a few.
It is an aim of the gallery to offer urban and street art to more and more people around the world. Through a consistent programme of exhibitions and publications designed to bring more exposure to street art. The Lawrence Alkin Gallery showcases and collaborates with an large array of established artists. Plus with and up and coming British and international artists. Discover more about this urban gallery by visiting the gallery web site.
Further Reading and Useful Street Art Resources
We can’t cover everything, so checkout these additional sources of recommended reading and reference. All you need to plan a cultural infusion of artistic delight when next visiting the great city that is London town.
- Visit London – Street art tours and guides to London’s iconic art hotspots.
- The Londonist – Stunning street art locations across central London.
- CultureTrip – Fantastic location insight into well and lesser known urban art.
London street art has brightened up the city of London no end. From Southbank to Brick Lane and beyond. Much of the fine work produced by some of the most inspirational street artists is available to view or purchase at these reputable London galleries. Another way to see all the gold nuggets that London has to offer is to hop on one of the many London tour buses that serve the street art movement.
Sometimes the work of a particular artist is presented in an exhibition format and available for a short time only. So check gallery details, social media and public web sites for the latest exhibit updates. Occasionally original street art will be available for sale. At lesser cost will be prints and framed duplicates.
Often limited edition prints are also available fully signed and authenticated by the artist. These limited prints are collectors items but without the high level of cost associated with premium original works. Which ever gallery you choose to attend. Expect an enthralling voyage into the intoxicating world of London street art at it’s finest.