When you're planning your trip to London, you're probably creating must-see and must-do lists. One of the best ways to experience culture and history of another country is by visiting their museums and art galleries. Despite London having several galleries, there are a few you should put on the top of your list to visit.
Personally, I love going to art galleries! I didn't know I liked them so much until I started going to the ones in London. Odd, right?
This page may contain affiliate marketing links.
Not too odd. The art in London is quite impressive. I'm also learning that I have an eye for modern art as opposed to seeing older portraits and paintings. Don't get me wrong. Older art work is priceless and timeless, but you can keep coming back to see them because they tend to stay where they are and maybe rotate around just a bit.
I guess knowing I can come to XYZ museum and see a Monet doesn't give me a sense of wonder and urgency to see it in person compared to an exhibit that is around for a short period. Let's move on to our first impressive gallery.
The Bridget Riley exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in Waterloo was here for a short time and I caught it during it's last days because I just happened to move to London right before it ended. There were strict rules about taking pictures and when we could post to social media after viewing. That's why it's taken me some time to share. But it's worth the wait.
Bridget Riley's work with vertical stripes with no pattern to the color display is meant to be "read" from left to right. The way each stripe stands, allows the colors beside it to pop more. It's mesmerising to see.
Riley's work creates three dimensional illusions out of two dimensions by altering the shade and shape of basic shapes (ie. squares and circles). It really makes the viewer stop, stare, and just imagine.
You can see it in the picture below. It appears as though the dots are going down a cliff or into a crease as they lighten in density of color. It's fascinating how basic shapes and colours can create so much depth to a painting.
Even if you missed this specific exhibition, the Hayward Gallery often has various visually and mentally stimulating exhibits. I highly recommend you try it out.
One tip from me: buy tickets in advance. If you purchase tickets online, you'll be paying an extra £3 on top of the original £20. I purchased my ticket at the gallery for the next day's admission.
Especially when you're coming at the tail end of an exhibit like I was, you'll be waiting in a line that's out the door and it will be merely to purchase a ticket for a future time (not to walk in right away). I learned the difficult way.
Directions: To get to the Hayward Gallery, you want to take the tube or the bus to the Waterloo station and walk from there. You'll see an interesting looking stone coloured building on your left with many signs and banners. You can't miss it.
The Tate Modern is another must-see gallery, especially when there are interesting exhibitions going on. It's free for admission to many of the floors, but you do need to pay for the exhibitions that are around for a limited-time, such as the Nam June Paik and the Dora Maar. To see my experience at the Nam June Paik exhibit, check out my post called the Must See Tate Modern..
If you don't want to spend money and want to see just the free portions of the gallery, it's still worth visiting this five-floor massive gallery. You'll see a mix of various artists of various times.
The free exhibition floors have rooms that do not flow as well as the paid exhibitions of a single artist, but it's still curated well to match art of similar styles together in each rooms. And of course, many of these paintings are meant to intrigue and enlighten to viewer.
Directions: To get to the Tate Modern, I got off at the London Bridge Station via the Northern Line and walked about 13 minutes. Or you can take the Jubilee Line and get off at the Southwark Station and walk for about 8 minutes.
The NOW Gallery is another great place to visit. It's a small gallery with one installation to view at a given time during specific dates. Check online for the latest exhibit before you head over.
Currently, the gallery is showing Slices of Time by Emmanuelle Moureaux. She uses numbers cut out from paper, which mark time, layered over each other in 100 shades of colors and white to express the flow of time.
Moureaux created the concept of "shikiri" meaning "dividing space with colors" by using the colors as three dimensional elements to create spaces. It's simplicity and complexity all in one, to provide the viewers with the opportunity to look and think of a significant date in time.
What's great about the NOW gallery for exhibition displays is that you can see the display with a 360-degree view of the artwork. You can walk around the entirety and look at it from every angle. It takes the audience to another form viewing and even understanding.
Directions: To get to the NOW Gallery, you can take the Jubilee Line to North Greenwich Station. The NOW Gallery is directly to the right when you walk out of the station. One thing to note, you must purchase a FREE ticket via Eventbrite.co.uk . The reason for this is the space in the gallery is limited and the ticket provides you with a specific 15-minute time slot for admission. The tickets are free and dates are flexible, providing you with 2 days to show up.
London has many more galleries, including small ones where you can purchase some of the modern artwork like the Zabludowicz Collection by Camden Town. Recently, they were even selling a piece of Nam June Paik's work that was also being displayed at the Tate Modern. This makes the art feel even more tangible.
Let me know how your experience was at these galleries by leaving a comment below. I hope you discover something new, experience enlightenment, and walk away amazed. Beautiful art is the art that intrigues and sparks something inside of you. It remains in your memory and you'll contribute it not just to your trip here, but also to the culture of the country you visited. May you experience beautiful art.
Disclaimer: All images contained on this website remain the property of The Palette Cleanser. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.