TThe art community has always been kind to unloved or underutilized space, especially in the London. While galleries flourished in previous decades in Notting Hill in the 1980s, then Shoreditch in the 1990s, Soho and Fitzrovia are now home to smaller spaces and independent dealers representing a variety of artists.
It’s a commercially sensible move as it means collectors can easily visit Mayfair’s high-end galleries, as well as visiting the keen ones in Soho’s premises. It’s also a bonus for window-shop visitors who just want to experience new art in interesting spaces.
This walk takes you around a mix of public and commercial galleries and it starts in the heart of Soho, just around the corner from my gallery. On the corner of Broadwick and Carnaby Street is a work by Julian Opie. This digital sculpture, Shaida walk, shows a figure in perpetual motion and seems like a good place to start. Look up and you’ll see Spirit of Soho a public mural, a somewhat macabre series of local vignettes crowned by a woman with fiery hair – Saint Anne.
Head north up Carnaby and turn right onto Great Marlborough where the first lane on the left will take you to Gallery of photographers. Although many of the exhibitions here are ticketed, there is always something interesting to do in the basement print gallery. After this pit stop, continue down Great Marlborough until you reach Berwick Street. Turn left and head across Oxford Street onto Berners. Walk past the rather posh Edition Hotel Alison Jacques Gallery. Shows in this commercial space tend to feature previously overlooked artists, especially female artists late in their careers. Her list includes Maria Bartusheva and Sheila Hicks.
From here take the scenic route to Tottenham Court Road tube station via Hodge Street and Whitfield Street. Stop in Castor Gallery and indigo+crazier on the way, they have recently arrived in the area. From there, head down to Oxford Street and the new subway ticket hall, which has striking Daniel Buren wall facades that are ignored by all commuters.
Take the escalator to your right and you’ll find yourself in a new series of public spaces around Centrepoint. The Now Building, a mysterious new center designed by Orms architecture practice, which is home to External network, a new entertainment district full of exciting installations and screens. It’s worth a look while you’re here, but quickly leave this dystopian vision of future art behind and head down Shaftesbury Avenue to Grape Street, where Phyllida Reid has opened a new gallery. If you hurry, you can make the Joanna Piotrowska and FormaFantasma show.
Afterwards, turn right at the top of the street and head into New Oxford to Museum Street and Herald Street Gallery at number 43. It is home to artists including Pablo Bronstein and Nick Relph. Avoid the tourists and colonial looting at the British Museum and turn right down Great Russell Street, left up Southampton Row, reaching Queen Square via Cosmo Place. Head north to arrive at Brunswick Square Gardens, your final destination. here museum of detectives is located on the grounds of the old hospital for stalkers. With the help of William Hogarth and the composer Handel, the hospital was transformed into the country’s first public art gallery. So we end at the beginning. A fitting way to celebrate the constant reimagining and rebirth of the art world.
Neeru Ratnam located at 23 Ganton Street, London W1F. The next transfer Playground of Matthew Krishan