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© I Wei Huang/Shutterstock
© I Wei Huang/Shutterstock
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London’s Quirkiest Art Galleries

Picture of Chris Evans
Updated: 11 October 2017
London is consistently populated by start-ups and pop-ups. These temporary venues have become synonymous with all that is unexpected; however, an exhibition doesn’t need to be spontaneous to be quirky. Galleries are still vying for coveted space, and as ever, restrictions can lead to creative solutions. The galleries listed below have either repurposed existing spaces to create character, or populated it with unique content to deliver an experience that is truly unconventional.
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Riflemaker

Widely praised for an innovative agenda, Riflemaker takes its name from the duties of its previous occupant. The former gun workshop supports emergent artists, but qualifies for the list thanks to an exhibition last year by Cally-Jo and Lal Hardy, who created the world’s first human gallery, to display tattoos and body art. Of course, due to its nature, the ‘human gallery’ was only temporary, however Riflemaker still continues to offer quirky and inventive content year round.

Riflemaker, 79 Baker Street, Regent Street, London, W1F 9SU, UK, 07794 629 188


The Old Police Station

Occupying an antiquated Edwardian Police Station in Deptford, this DIY arts centre is populated by numerous self-made micro-exhibitions. Student artists are encouraged to occupy and exhibit their work in The Old Police Station’s prison cells, and the site now features its own recording studio and radio station. The co-existence of the old police equipment and busy new resident artists lends itself to the creation of a surreal atmosphere.

The Old Police Station, 114 Amersham Vale, London, SE14 6LG, UK

Courtesy of The Old Police Station


Resistance Gallery

Situated in Bethnal Green on a side alley off of Cambridge Heath Road, Resistance Gallery is a home to the weird and the wonderful. Not for the faint hearted, Resistance exhibits a selection of challenging images from underground and left-field groups that captures a sense of the surreal and carnivalesque that at times borders on the grotesque. What makes this gallery particularly quirky is the fact that it houses its own wrestling ring used by the UK’s only Luchadore wrestling school, London School of Lucha Libre.

Resistance Gallery, Poyser Street, Bethnal Green, London, E2 9RF, UK, 0123 456 7890


Graffik London

Ever since Banksy first captivated the public imagination, street art has steadily gained its credibility in the art world, and Graffik London has exhibited work by some of the most reputable names on the scene. The gallery on Portobello Road specializes in displaying the finest street and urban art year round. Though street art is arguably less quirky than it once was, now that its exhibition has become more commonplace, the devotion of an entire gallery to the art form is certainly something that can be enjoyed by all, from tourists to enthusiasts.

Graffik Gallery, Portobello Road, London, W10 5TE, UK, 020 8354 3592

The Crypt Gallery

The vaults beneath St. Pancras Paris Church have a rich history. The crypts were originally used between 1822 and 1854 to combat the overcrowding of village burial grounds and later as an air raid shelter in both world wars. In 2002, they were repurposed into a contemporary arts space called The Crypt Gallery. The gallery’s bright red entrance leads in from Dukes Road and welcomes visitors into a unique space designed to provoke contemplation.

The Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church, Euston Road, London, NW1 2BA, UK, 020 7388 1461

Courtesy of Crypt Gallery

House of Vans

Not strictly a gallery, this multi-purpose space beneath Waterloo station houses a concert venue, and one of London’s best skate parks. Alongside these, House of Vans frequently runs screenings and exhibitions under its cavernous arches. Naturally, the content frequently explores the links between skateboarding and print culture, showcasing brand graphics, tour photos and other rare artefacts. The creative team also collaborate on a regular basis with London based artists to deliver a range of workshops, from lino printing to 3D model printing.

House of Vans, Station Approach Rd, Lambeth, London, SE1, UK, 020 37455059


King’s Cross Tunnel

This 90-metre pedestrian tunnel offers a valuable short cut from the depths of the underground to the newly regenerated spaces of King’s Cross. More than that, it features a specially designed LED ‘art wall’ with 190 controllable pixels. The wall has been designed to feature a range of new, site-specific works including the current installation called ‘Pipette’, which consists of a beautiful range of soothing colours that move gradually through a spectrum, offering a calming influence on the crowds of commuters descending into the station.

Collier St, Kings Cross, London N1 9BE

© I Wei Huang/Shutterstock


Ceviche

Restauranteur Martin Morales is just as committed to showing Peruvian art as he is serving up delicious national cuisine. His Old Street restaurant Ceviche doubles up as an art gallery, with an ever-changing display of artists from Lima and beyond. The walls are jam-packed with displays of art, photography and illustration and you can even peruse details and pricing via a handy app, making it even easier to invest in cutting-edge art while you enjoy your lunch.

2 Baldwin St, London EC1V 9NU

Ceviche, Old Street | © Ceviche


The Bower

This newly crowdfunded project will see an old toilet block in Brunswick Park, Camberwell, turned into a small art gallery and publishing hub complete with a cafe. The Bower project was conceived by Louisa Bailey and Joyce Cronin, who are working with architects Claire and Kazuya Nakamoto in order to realise the endeavour in time for autumn 2017, offering a new, engaging community space.


The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities

This east London wunderkammer is a museum of imaginable curiosities, which doubles up as a a cocktail bar. Visitors are invited to sip on an absinthe infusion while enjoying this eclectic collection of shrunken heads, taxidermy, skeletons etching and paintings. Unlike most museums and galleries the Viktor Wynd Museum prides itself on a lack of coherence or labelling, instead encouraging patrons to immerse themselves in the experience. For more hands-on individuals there are also courses on taxidermy on offer, as well as other talks and events throughout the year.

11 Mare St, Dalston, London E8 4RP

© Oskar Proctor

The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities | Photo © Oskar Proctor

This article was revised by Holly Black in August 2017.