It may come as something of a surprise to some of you, but art does not have to be in a ginormous, grandiose space in order to be good. In fact, art doesn't have to be anything to be good, you know why? Cos it's all subjective! Art is a matter of taste and taste should be utterly personal, though if we're going to be truthful, that isn't entirely the case. Just like wine and music, it's what you like that matters - not what people tell you to like. Just because something is expensive, and it's by a famous name does not make it good. If you want some art that you like, go find some art you like, and a really good way of doing that is by visiting independent galleries. Just like independent theatres, it's a great place to find emerging artists who haven't necessarily been annointed by wealthy backers, and have had to work their damn socks off even to get in these small galleries. To give you a head start, we've brought together a list of what we, and stress that we part, think are the 11 best independent galleries in South London.
Bearspace in Deptford has been gaining a bit of traction in the wider London art scene for their ability to find and nurture some very promising talent. Established back in 2003, Bearspace's has secured its reputation for the foreseeable future as a space that consistently exhibits some of the best and most challenging work from some of the most exciting new contemporary artists. Though called Bearspace, their space is bare small, and though they may be Bearspace, they do not have bare space. They do, however, have an understanding that those with a South London Club Card get 15% off artwork.
GX Gallery, Camberwell
Established back in 2001, GX Gallery has become well-known for representing both emerging and established artists. Though the logic that if a business has been around as long as GX Gallery has it is likely to be pretty good at what it does is not always totally sound, in this instance it definitely is. Beyond exhibiting and selling art, they also offer framing and installation services. Their current exhibit Institchyou: Pedal Power showcasing recent works by Harriet Riddell and Humphrey Dettmer, running till 21st July, is certainly worth checking out, as is the 10% off framing and prints you get with your South London Club Card.
Deptford Does Art, Deptford
Deptford Does Art is a multi-site art gallery based in Deptford. So really, to suggest it's a gallery like the other establishments on this list is not necessarily true. Rather, they partner with spaces within Deptford to showcase art from local artists in exhibits that they curate. They're pretty new but they've grown quite quickly, so keep tabs on their social media to see where their next show is being hosted. If you've got a South London Club Card you get 10% off too so, whoopdedoo.
Ben Oakley Gallery, Greenwich
Curated and managed by artist/entrepreneur Ben Oakley, the Ben Oakley Gallery is an intimate gallery situated just off Greenwich Market. With a very wide selection of artworks on sale, the Ben Oakley Gallery is a really great place to start looking for art to either add to, or to start your collection with. You're certain to find something you like, and you're certain to be pleased at the price when you get 5-10% off with your South London Club Card.
The Bright Emporium, Battersea
The aim of the Bright Emporium is to provide a dedicated exhibition and work space for artists associated with The Bright Group, which has over the last decade become a leading illustration agency. The Emporium was opened in 2015, and has not only allowed the public to engage with the work produced by The Bright Group more thoroughly, but also allowed the work to be sold far more easily. Apart from exhibitions, they stage workshops and other child-oriented events, so it's a great place to introduce your children to the wonders of art.
198 Contemporary arts & learning, Herne Hill
198 Contemporary Arts & Learning has a mission. That missions is to both advance public interest in the visual arts, and to provide support for emerging artists. This is what makes independent galleries special - the support for the potentially unfashionable. 198 is a charity that was founded in 1988, with the aim of providing a platform specifically for Afro-Caribbean artists as part of the Black Arts Movement. Their spaces and rooms are utterly divine, and your South London Club Card gets you 10% off room hire. So what are you waiting for?
Gallery Seventeen, Beckenham
We think Gallery Seventeen has every right to call itself 'Beckenham's Art Centre' because of all the absolutely fabulous services they provide for the arty folk of Beckenham. Live in/near Beckenham and wanna learn how to draw, paint, or sculpt? Gallery Seventeen does classes! Live in/near Beckenham and want to buy some forthright artwork? Gallery Seventeen sells tip-top art! Live in/near Beckenham and wanna get something framed? Gallery Seventeen does framing, while your South London Club Card gets you get 5% off framing and 10% off framing orders over £100 (excludes object framing).
Artful Pelican, Lee
Run by local philanthropist David Coombe, Artful Pelican (working title) is the first gallery of its kind in the entire beautiful borough of Lewisham. A product of Coombe Trust, which has helped to provide life-changing respite breaks for those in need, the Artful Pelican is an element of their Street Souls homeless project. They source work from homeless, ex-homeless and/or vunerable artists, which they not only display at their gallery, but sell to people form across the borough. This provides the artists involved with a sense of accomplishment, a direction, and much-needed funds. Your South London Club Card gets you 10% off everything and 15% off on Sundays as you contribute to a very worthy cause.
The Bermondsey Gallery, Bermondsey
Bermondsey is a bit of happening place at the moment, and The Bermondsey Gallery is testament to this happening-ness. Like the other independent galleries on this list, their aim is to promote emerging artists, while also exhibiting and selling the artwork of more established artists. The Bermondsey Gallery puts on a wide variety of different exhibitions including photography, urban art, painting, sculpture, and installation. They also provide a framing service, for which you get 5% off with your South London Club Card, along with 5% off artwork.
The Flood Gallery, Greenwich
Prepare to have your ruddy senses figurativelly flooded, that's right, figurativelly - not literally, figurativelly. There will be no literal flooding when you go to The Flood Gallery, just sensational flooding - double entrendre there, but not naughty. For anyone who loves music, and all the visual art that goes with it, The Flood Gallery is a place for you to visit. Situated within Greenwich Market, they speciliased in band-poster-art-prints, while also offering a framing service for which you get 10% off with your South London Club Card.
Fergus Noone Gallery and Gifts, Blackheath
Specialising in photography, the Fergus Noone Gallery naturally showcases the work of local artists Fergus Noone. Varying in both size and style, much of Noone's subject matter is the surrounding areas. If you're a local, and proud of the beautiful vistas on offer in Blackheath and Greenwich, then the Fergus Noone Gallery is a perfect place to look for some stunning photographs. The gallery also doubles up as a gift shop, where you can pick up some very tasteful trinkets, while they also offer photography services such as family portraits, and wedding photography. A very handy place to know, especially because you get 10% off when you spend over £70 with your South London Club Card.
what is the south london club card?
The South London Club is a local discount card to help support small independent businesses across South London whilst saving all who live, work & play in South London money! With over 500+ local discounts to choose from, you will discover & explore all the best hidden gems in South London. Join over 4,000 of us & celebrate all that's independent in South London!