One of the wonderful things about London is the accessibility to art. Be it contemporary or impressionist art, London offers highly regarded artists to emerging artists. While many think of the most popular galleries and museums like the National Gallery, Tate Modern or Saatchi Gallery, there are many less known and prestigious galleries found within London. These galleries come together and run free events, exhibitions, workshops, talks and private views during special late openings. These late openings have become affectionately referred to as First Thursdays and Slam Fridays. The name of these events refer to the days in which they are hosted. The first Thursday and last Friday of each month features over 170 galleries and museums in East and South London that are open until 9 pm. The galleries’ websites compiles their top 5 exhibitions and even offer free art walking and bus tours with leading curators and writers.
Whitechapel Gallery has been called London’s East End home for over a century. The gallery has premiered world-class artists from modern masters such as Frida Kahlo and Jackson Pollack to contemporary greats like Sophie Calle and Lucian Freud. Whitechapel has become a touchstone for contemporary art internationally. Whitechapel, along with its partners, has recently taken the lead in offering the public access to its collections with First Thursdays. Current exhibits include Artist’s Film International, which showcases films from around the world and select pieces from the V-A-C collection that displays some of the 20th century’s greatest artists. Past art galleries that have been featured during First Thursdays have included CANAL, Rich Mix and Raven Row.
Similarly, South London Gallery (SLG) has a long history with Whitechapel opening its doors in Peckham in 1891. Since then, it has garnered an international reputation for its program of contemporary art exhibitions and live art events. Originally thought of as the “gallery of the people of South London,” SLG now is a charity that receives ongoing support from the Arts Council of England, The Southwark Council, The Big Lottery and Outset Contemporary Art Fund. SLG offers Slam Fridays which is the late night opening of galleries in South London and is free to the public. The event also has its own publication and mobile app that optimizes the experience for visitors. Slam Fridays does not require a booking.
Loving Apartments offer a number of apartments close to these events. So the next time your in London and want to venture outside of the normal galleries, make sure to check out the First Thursdays and Slam Fridays.
Jonathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.