North London has much to offer for the average art lover. Not only is it home to a brilliant range of historic sites, but there are plenty of contemporary galleries to choose from. So whether you want to visit a Georgian gem after a walk on Hampstead Heath, or enjoy experimental contemporary art, we’ve got you covered.
Camden Arts Centre
Somewhat confusingly, this contemporary arts centre is on Finchley Road, not on the streets of Camden Town. The centre hosts international exhibitions from recognised artists including Nathalie Du Pasquier and Kara Walker, as well as hosting a series of artist studios, a jam-packed programme of events that include life drawing classes, and an excellent bookshop.
This dedicated gallery houses the collection of Anita and Poju Zabludowicz, which specialises in works of art from the 1970s to the present day. This former Methodist chapel provides an impressive backdrop to experimental art practices and work-in-progress pieces from internationally revered artists such as Joseph Kosuth and Marvin Gaye-Chetwynd.
176 Prince of Wales Rd, Belsize Park, London, UK, +44 20 7428 8940
This artist-led organisation on Pentonville Road includes 32 artist studios and a permanent exhibition space. It has shown work by leading practitioners such as Mark Leckey and Leonora Carrington and also runs a curatorial fellowship, which offers burgeoning curators the opportunity to develop their own project and further their practice on site.
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
This shrine to Italian art is best-known for its incredible selection of Futurist works, including pieces by Umberto Bocconi and Gino Severin. As its name might suggest, it also holds a fantastic array of works from other Italian modern masters, such as Amedeo Modigliani’s portrait of Dr Francois Brabander and Giorgio de Chirico’s The Revolt of the Sage.
Ben Uri Gallery
Now over a century old, Ben Uri Gallery focuses on bringing migrant identity to the fore, through its collection of over 1300 works of art. It predominantly focuses on those of Jewish European heritage, including the prolific painter Frank Bomberg and his equally esteemed student Frank Auerbach.
The former residence of Sigmund Freud features his famous psychoanalytical couch in a study full of objects from Greek and Egyptian antiquity. Along with preserving the Freud family’s collection, the museum holds thematic exhibitions related to Sigmund Freud’s work, such as So this is the Strong Sex: Early Women Psychoanalysts, which looks at the major influence of female practitioners such as Marie Bonaparte, Helene Deutsch, Emma Eckstein, Anna Freud, Lou Andreas-Salomé and Sabina Spielre. The museum also has an active contemporary art programme, which invites artists to create interventionist exhibitions based on their own response to the space.
20 Maresfield Gardens, London, UK, +44 20 7435 2002
This stunning Georgian property in Hampstead Heath features four fantastic neoclassical social rooms designed by architect Robert Adams for the Earl of Mansfield. The house went under refurbishment in 2013 in order to bring the ostentatious interiors back to their former glory, restoring its wonderful powder blue walls and intricate mouldings. The property’s collection is also first-class, with Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner and Van Dyck all featuring.
Hampstead Ln, Highgate, London, UK, +44 370 333 1181
Take a Tour
This Grade I historic site features an incredible 53,000 graves. Some of the greatest minds from recent history are buried here, including Karl Marx and George Eliot. Along with the architectural artistry of the graveyard itself, art lovers can visit the final resting place of pop artist Patrick Caulfield, Australian painter Sidney Nolan, and spiritualist and artist Georgiana Houghton. The West Cemetery also features incredible sinuous paths, featuring the Chapel, Colonnade, Egyptian Avenue, Circle of Lebanon, Terrace Catacombs and the mausoleum of Julius Beer, and can be accessed via guided tour.
Swain’s Ln, Highgate, London, UK, +44 20 8340 1834