Strange how great things can be right under your nose but you just don't get around to checking them out as often as you should do. Well for this resident of Nunhead the South London Gallery is a case in point; it's no more than a very leisurely 15 minute stroll from door to door but this Sunday was my first visit in an age.
Thanks to some gentle prompting from B we decided to keep it local and take in some culture in Camberwell this weekend so we made our way down the ever busy Peckham Road to check out the Manon de Boer exhibition before it ends on 23 January (just my kind of arty Dutch film offering).
This must be one of the most stunning exhibition spaces in the country let alone London. It has had a lot of work done on it in the last year or two, extending the facilities into the once derelict house next door, and there is now some more small scale exhibition space, a fantastic cafe and a beautiful garden which is home to the wonderful Clore Studio. There is also is a shop which sells a great selection of art, film and music books and magazines along with postcards and other interesting bits and pieces.
Unlike most of the galleries in town, such as both the Tate and the Tate Modern which can be a nightmare a lot of the time, you will find this is quite a tranquil experience and you are unlikely to need to elbow your way through a crowd or clamber over a buggy to get sight of the work.
Exhibitions here are free and there are various talks, live events and general arty "happenings" throughout the year which are either free or very reasonably priced. If you are into contemporary art or just fancy a decent lunch in some lovely surroundings this would be a very fine way to spend an afternoon south of the river. In February there is a retrospective look at the work of Goldsmiths graduates Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard which I would recommend.
Was in the area for a different event and they weren't quite ready so suggested I walk around to the other galleries in the area. And this was one of them. There is a show currently on that involves one large room.
And I'm not sure if the gallery has other rooms or exhibits that go on at the same time. Mostly because the gallery guard at the moment did not either hear me or want to answer my question when I asked if the side door in the room led to anything else. There is a gift shop and a connecting cafe and I think another cafe that opened up right next door.
So if you're in the area wanting something to do to kill time, have a walk around the room and then grab a tea at the cafe.
I think it was just the "you shouldn't be in here" vibe from the guard mixed with my disinterest in the current exhibit that made me think just meh about the place. I'll be back again to give it another chance.
If you're wondering where to spend your Saturday, this is a good spot for a relaxing and interesting stroll. The exhibition is interesting and I had a very nice time here.
The South London Gallery is essentially one large room that has hosted shows from an array of artists, some bigger than others. Among its list of recognisable names are Chris Burden, Tom Friedman, Keith Tyson and Steve McQueen so there is no denying its status as a top league gallery.
The single room ensures the shows are kept intimate and manageable which to me is always an advantage; every time I set foot in the Tate Modern I find myself glassy-eyed, overwhelmed and tired within fifteen minutes of arrival! I would say on a good day this is comparable to the White Cube in Hoxton but with less of an uber trendy edge that is impossible to avoid in Shoreditch these days.
There is also a shop selling a good range of products relevant to current and previous shows hosted by the gallery.
I've visited the South London Gallery to see a couple of shows, and I think this is a lovely space to have in Camberwell. The main gallery is a large square room, but is always used to the best effect. The children's room is a brilliant space for children to use, and there are always activities going on. The garden has a cafe in it, and during the summer provides a quiet area to reflect on and discuss what you have just seen inside.
The gallery offers flyers for other local events and sells books related to the running exhibitions. It is open daily except Monday, but is sometimes shut for installations, so check ahead before you visit.
The South London Gallery is rich with history, and its heritage as an institution founded by enthusiasts and educators (as distinct from the Crown or the state) makes it unique and quite worthwhile. Apparently initially housing regular temporary exhibits it has gone on to possess a permanent collection of its own. It's not the city's best collection by far, but something about the heritage of this place makes it quite affecting, and I happily pop by when in the neighbourhood. Of late, they have actually been a good deal more proactive in acquiring notable works, so they are also a gallery to watch out for in the future.
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