London is home to a fascinating hub of art galleries and studios, and a great many of them are to be found in city centre areas around and of Trafalgar Square. You can spend hours at the National Portrait Gallery or take a stroll on South Bank to have a look at the collections at Tate Modern.
However, if you keep walking west along South Bank you’ll stumble upon Vauxhall, the alternative artistic heart of the Big Smoke. Although it’s often overlooked, you should see this as a reason to head in that direction, as it won’t be over run with massive amounts of tourists. In fact, Vauxhall is where you’re going to find Londoners enjoying some culture over the weekend, so you’ll be joining in with a real authentic pastime in the city.
It might not be top of the sightseeing lists in your guide book but this doesn’t mean that Vauxhall is hard to get to – quite the opposite in fact, as it’s serviced by rail links that will take you just about anywhere in the city. If you want to make a day of it in this area, you certainly can, as there is a thriving nightclub scene, as well as an art culture.
We’ve outlined some of the places to see art in Vauxhall and we’re sure you’ll be surprised that not all of them are art galleries.
The Rising Tide
This isn’t just a phrase used to explain the movement of the ocean, it’s also the name of a stunning piece of installation art in the Vauxhall area.
You’ll find four, life-sized cement sculptures of horses right by the Vauxhall Bridge that have been placed into the river bank. You can only see them fully once a day when the river is at low tide, any other time of the day you can spot their heads if you’re lucky.
The sculpture was made by Jason deCaires Taylor, who is famous for his underwater displays, which are usually to be found in warmer climates like the Bahamas. This is a temporary display, so if you’re going to London soon you should make sure that you go to see it before it gets taken away to a new home.
Vauxhall happens to be close to M by Montcalm Shoreditch London Tech City Hotel, simply take the Northern line from Old Street Station for 12 minutes to Oval Station, then walk 14 minutes to Vauxhall Bridge and you’re there.
Newport Street Gallery
You’ll find this gallery on Newport Street in the Vauxhall area, which predominantly features exhibitions of work from Damien Hirst’s art collection. It displays both solo and group shows and they are a mixture between well known and newly discovered artists.
The gallery is quite large at 37,000 square feet and it houses six different exhibition spaces, meaning you can spend the morning looking around the different paintings and sculptures.
One of the most popular collections in the gallery is the Murderme collection, to which Hirst has been adding pieces of work since the 80s. Artists you can expect to see in this showing, include Francis Bacon, Banksy, Jeff Koons, Picasso and Gavin Turk. Naturally, there is a healthy swathe of emerging artists for you to enjoy and educate your artistic leanings.
You can expect to see historical works, taxidermy, sculpture, photography and paintings, the range is extremely impressive.
We would advise that you check the website before you go to the gallery though, as it closes when exhibitions are swapping over.
To get to the Newport Street Gallery, take the Northern line from Old Street for ten minutes to Elephant and Castle tube station, walk to the London College of Comm bus stop (Stop Z) and take it to Lambeth Place for six minutes, or five stops. From there, it’s a four-minute walk to the gallery, which is lovely if it’s a nice, crisp morning.
Art isn’t just to be found in the different art galleries and installed along the bank of Vauxhall, you’ll also see it in the restaurants and bars that have a home in this stunning area of London.
Brunswick House is also home to spectacular pieces of art, which is actually a delicious and popular restaurant. You can’t miss it, as it’s draped with vintage lights and the interior is decorated with a stunning collection of antiques that are little masterpieces in themselves.
You’ll be attracted by the beauty and allure of Brunswick House. Plus, you’ll stay for the food, the chefs in this eatery are masters of their craft and product meals that are sure to have you visiting this place time and again.