A Walk Through London's East End Art Scene
From the atmospheric period Georgian streets of Whitechapel and Spitalfields to the grittier warehouses-turned-galleries of Hackney, a tour of the burgeoning East End’s art spaces presents the area in all its rich variety.
Whitechapel and Bethnal Green
To start your tour, Tube it to Aldgate East Station, then walk east along Whitechapel High Street to the Whitechapel Gallery, a center for exciting exhibitions since its founding in 1901. Head back toward the Tube, then turn right up Commercial Street, go north past Spitalfields Market, then right at the Ten Bells pub into Fournier Street, with its handsome, 18th-century former Protestant French Huguenot silk weavers’ townhouses-cum-workshops. Turn left into Brick Lane, then right past the Old Truman Brewery and railway lines into Cheshire Street, known for quirky shops like the Duke of Uke. The shops give way to a railway line as Cheshire Street turns into Dunbridge Street, and then Three Colts Lane, as you walk directly east, until you come to industrial Herald Street, where you’ll turn left. At No.2 is the new wave Herald Street gallery while at No. 21 is the Maureen Paley gallery, founded by an American expat who’s now a doyenne of the East End multimedia artster scene.
Turn right onto Witan Street and then left onto Cambridge Heath Road. The V&A Museum of Childhood is just past Bethnal Green Tube station. Continue heading north (take Bus 106 or 254 if you’re flagging) to just past Hackney Road. A few yards on the right is the Wilkinson Gallery. Cross back over Cambridge Heath Road and head west along Andrews Road, paralleling Regent’s Canal with its residential houseboats. Here you can either turn right to visit Broadway Market or left, going straight down Goldsmith's Row until you reach Hackney Road. Turn right and then take your first left at the Ion Square Gardens. Bear right onto Columbia Road (helpfully signed for Shoreditch), site of London’s best flower street market on Sunday morning.
A short way past where the indie shops of Columbia Road end, you’ll see another sign for Shoreditch on the left at Virginia Road. Turn left here, bear right, and then turn left again at Hocker Street. This brings you to Arnold Circus, an early Arts and Crafts council housing development. From the southern end of the Circus, take the first right off Club Row into Old Nichol Street. Here you’ll find the Kate MacGarry gallery, known for its cutting-edge conceptual and video art. Turn left into Boundary Street at the end of the road and stop for a restorative coffee or egg-and-bacon bap at Albion English "caff" at the end of Boundary Street. At this point you can either turn left around the corner to browse loads of cool indie boutiques on Redchurch Street, or right, which will bring you almost immediately to Shoreditch High Street and the huge Tea Building to the left. Turn left onto Bethnal Green Road, where you’ll find the Shoreditch High Street Overground station just above the spunky Boxpark metal shipping container pop-up mall.
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