Once an affordable locale for artist seeking cheap studios and living space the East End is now just as expensive as anywhere else in London. And yet the area constantly reinvents itself as a venue for new art ventures. From independent artist run spaces to blue-chip establishments, there are zillions of galleries in East London. They account for a hazy blur of shows that occasionally yields one or two that really stand out. Whether they are swapping location, shutting down or moving to the West End, the regions’s galleries regularly shuffle about. The East End, for better or worse, remains consistent in facilitating or at least playing host to anyone with the desire and tenacity, perhaps the desperation, to get something started.
Here is a selection of new spaces that stand out from the crowd and are worth a visit:
The brainchild of married artist Jason Dungan and Maria Zahle, the Hex is a project space run from their own flat. Artists are invited to extend their work beyond the allocated exhibiting section and incorporate it into the more private and domestic areas. So far the shows have been varied, including work from Dungan and Zahle themselves, Sam Porritt, Vanessa Billy, Charlotte Thrane and Anthea Hamilton, among others. But perhaps the unique characteristics of The Hex is its inherent domesticity.
Parade has a fairly sparse programme, opting for a small number of carefully selected exhibitions with the right artists at the right time, instead of being chock-a-block for the sake of it. On the whole, the shows have tended to reflect that kind of quality control with palpable combination of meticulousness and flippancy. Recent exhibitions have included a Dan Rees solo show and a group with Matthew Darbyshire, Djordje Ozbolt and Alexander Tucker.
Not strictly based in the East End- in fact, not strictly based anywhere- Truck Art is a mobile gallery. Established by artist Joseph Frazer, the gallery has used its itinerant nature to great effect, having held shows in locations across London and Europe. Last summer Truck featured group shows at B Store, a private residence in Finsbury Park, and the Art: Concept gallery in Paris, and a Mark Leckey solo show in Soho NCP car park.
Having started life in Berlin, Run Gallery now resides on Tudor Grove. The exhibition programme is rigorously organised, and the individual shows have been refreshingly straightforward. The current interest seems to lie in solo shows by emerging artists, such as Nicolas Deshayes and Lucy Coggle, and the general approach is one of simplicity and unpretentiousness.
The Wallis Gallery
Distinctly performance oriented, the Wallis Gallery hosts a regular evening of performance art called Making Mistakes, so called because artists are invited to try out ideas at any stage of gestation. The actual art can be anything from a dreadful cliche to absolutely vital, and it is indeed vital that there is the space for that, especially if you’re an artist. Contributors have included Ed Fornieles, Eloise Fornieles, Jack Cartling and Holly Slingsby.
Shytstem is definitely not an East End gallery. Perhaps more politically oriented than many current artistic enterprises, Shytstem stakes a claim for the artistic process rather than the product. Although the East End has provided one integral base among several, a fundamental reason for the existence of Shytstem seems to be defying mainstream and commercial expectations of what an artist is and what should happen with the art, and with that comes something of a defiance of East End.