In this series on London's art districts, Jessica Shepherd takes us on a tour of the Art Spots you need to know about. Each article examines a different area, from Vyner Street to Bermondsey. Read on to find out what makes them worth a trip...
Just a hop, skip and a jump from London Bridge, you will find an unexpected artisan quarter. Bermondsey is a peaceful hub near the Thames, clustered with galleries, studios, bookshops, cafes and small creative businesses from fashion to glass blowing and furniture design. It is a perfect place to while away a sunny London afternoon, and get some artistic inspiration at the same time.
Bermondsey Street is great place to start your afternoon mosey - the traditional brick buildings, florists and churches conjure up images of market towns. A few years ago, there were even more art studios in this area. Delfina, once humming with established artists and artist assistants, has long been transformed into a restaurant. But there is nevertheless a creative and enterprising mood in the air.
Before you rush off to the White Cube, turn onto Morocco Street to visit George and Jørgen, a relatively new gallery in the area. Bold and experimental, this gallery exhibits some of the most promising emerging artists. The exhibitions are both philosophically and aesthetically engaging, making it a highlight of the South London art scene.
Next up is the White Cube - sprawling and minimal, this 1970s warehouse has been redesigned by Casper Mueller Kneer Architects. It is a growing beacon in terms of global art, especially as the White Cube has recently opened a gallery in Hong Kong. The size of the gallery means that the exhibitions are magnificent. The art, whether it spans a gallery wall, or is quiet and diminutive, is thoughtfully positioned, and curated with the scale and space in mind.
Nearby is the Fashion and Textile Museum, and you are also close to the Design Museum. But if you're looking for something new, I'd recommend walking over to the 'other side' of Bermondsey: behind Bermondsey Station to Clements Road, where creative talent abounds in the form of artist studios, collectives and pop-up galleries.
V22 is an old Biscuit Factory that has been converted into studios and gallery spaces - and it is huge. This summer has seen the launch of V22'S 'Summer Club', which provided platforms and funding for new artists, particularly those who have studios in the vast warren of creative spaces here. Along with fine art, the Summer Club featured film screenings and live performances, as well as having an independent record-label store and bar. If you are an artist looking for a studio, check this place out. There are great communal areas, and if you need inspiration, standing on the roof overlooking the city is sure to spark an idea. But even more unique, V22 has a 'collective art collection'; a collection of works that is a public limited company and listed on the stock market. This means that artists and patrons can own shares in the collection. It is an innovative way to start becoming a collector, especially if you are an artist as well as an art lover.
Next to V22 is Vibe Gallery. It's a bit trickier to find, but if you make your way to the back of the warehouse complex and turn left, you should stumble across a hearty café, and the gallery is down some steps next to it. The gallery has a quick turnaround in terms of exhibitions, and there is a new exhibition every fortnight. It is very events-orientated, so it is worth timing your visit to coincide with a film screening, performance or poetry jam. On August 18th there will be an Arts and Crafts summer fair along with a one-off screening of short-films taken from the Future Shorts summer season. Again, if you are an artist or craftsperson, there are many opportunities to show and sell your work here. There are frequently calls for artist submissions, as well as the chance to hire the gallery if you want to put on an exhibition of your own.
Overall there are a lot of new and developing projects in the area. The architectural design within these huge warehouse spaces allows for a wide variety of work. During the summer months especially, it is a great place to hang out. If you can, set aside a whole afternoon and evening, so that you can appreciate the art, cafes and events Bermondsey has to offer. On the other hand, its central location could also mean that you can escape rush-hour on the tube and head down to an evening event after work. It's one way to make the most of the peaceful late-afternoon sunshine, whilst the rest of London dashes around wistfully wishing they could be sipping cider and listening to poetry. If only they knew about the art spots of Bermondsey...