In the second of our Quiet London features by Siobhan Wall, here she looks at five East London galleries that exude an air of calm – as well as buckets of culture


1 Maureen Paley

Maureen Paley has had a gallery in the East End since 1999 and the artists she represents occasionally make site-specific work in response to this former garment factory. One of the most respected galleries in London, it shows a wide range of work – from solo shows of photography to group exhibitions which combine moving images with profoundly engaging sound pieces. From Turner Prize winners Wolfgang Tillmans and Gillian Wearing to Gert & Uwe Tobias (pictured above) and Tim Rollins and KOS, the calibre of international artists who show here is outstanding.

21 Herald StreetE2 6JT; 020 7729 4112;

2 Stolen Space

This interesting gallery used to be a funeral parlour and monumental mason’s, which is partly why it is named Stolen Space. The other reason is that the work shown here tends to be street art, or ‘underground’ work made in an urban setting. The small room at the front is an intimate space in which to see hanging sculptures or installations, while in the rear brick-walled room you are more likely to see two-dimensional work and larger paintings. The work shown here is mainly by up-and-coming artists; try and catch the surreal animal/human hybrid photographs by Meryl Donoghue (pictured).

17 Osborn StreetE1 6TD; 020 7247 2684;

3 Ancient and Modern Gallery

This tiny gallery is a well-established space to see contemporary art not far from the technological hub of Old Street. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by shows at the huge Barbican complex nearby, wander down old-fashioned Whitecross Street for a quieter, more intimate encounter with art. Des Hughes’s playful yet sinister sculptures (pictured) combine traditional British horror with a mischievous approach to Modernist aesthetics. It is hard to imagine anyone else making memento mori sculptures out of naan breads sprinkled with iron dust.

201 Whitecross StreetEC1Y 8QP; 020 7253 4550;



4 Laura Bartlett Gallery

This former light industrial space in Bethnal Green is a light-filled gallery where less well-known artists show compelling work in mainly solo shows. Canadian artist Allison Katz’s large canvases (pictured) fill the space with brightly coloured depictions of everyday and fantastical scenes, including climbing monkeys, a lone woman and giant strawberries. This is one place in London where you can see the socially inclusive work of Harrell Fletcher, an American artist who often works collaboratively. Laura Bartlett also has a project space at 10 Northington Street where mainly group shows of international artists are held.

4 Herald StreetE2 6JT; 020 3487 0507;

5 Arbeit

Although it calls itself a new media and performance gallery, this innovative space also shows physical objects. Jeannie Driver’s labour-intensive piece, ‘When Contents Become Form’ (pictured) hung thousands of paper strips in the shape of a cube. Her humble two-dimensional material took on an ethereal life of its own.

Unit 4, White Post Lane, Queen’s Yard E9 5EN;

Quiet London: Culture by Siobhan Wall, published by Frances Lincoln, £7.99 paperback;

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