Visiting London we happened upon a free drop-in drawing session at the National Portrait Gallery. The welcoming tutor placed sheaf of cartridge paper and some pencils in our hands and we were away! A great hour's fun. Even my wife, who hates drawing, found it engaging and was proud of her finished efforts, which we still have.
Old-style boozer in the heart of Peckham with a pool table and cheap pints. Local artists hold exhibitions of their work in the back room.
96 Peckham High Street, London SE15 5ED
+207 639 2490
Getting there: overground train to Peckham Rye, buses 12, 36, 171, 436
Google map: bit.ly/nr4x0Q
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The café has all manner of taste treats to tempt art lovers inside its bright white walls. The café is at the front, with a massive shop window facing the street. The cakes are homemade and the snacks and sandwiches are prepared from fresh, healthy ingredients. The menu changes regularly. The gallery behind supports local artists and emerging talents. There are often private views and anybody can pop in.
70 Camberwell Church Street, London SE5 8QZ
+44 207 358 4475
Open Mon—Sat 09.00—18.00
Buses 12, 36, 436, 345, 171, 68, 468 to Camberwell Green
Google map: bit.ly/qa7iD4
Look out for the beautifully restored Art Deco facade and the white on black lettering reading 'Electrical Engineers' as you head up Peckham Rye for a stroll around the park.
Visitors are tempted inside this former electrical and hardware store by the beautiful furnishings, comfortable sofas, giant sanded dresser behind the bar and the collection of paintings by local artists adorning the walls. This cafe and art gallery hosts different exhibitions and private views every month. The cakes are all home-made and the menu includes some mouth-watering items such as smoked haddock, baby spinach and lemon fishcakes. The cafe/gallery opened in November 2010 and French manager Julie plans to incorporate a large deli, with meats, cheeses, home-baked bread and a vast range of tempting treats and there's an arts and crafts fair every Saturday morning on the leafy terrace, over the road from the Common. It's a wonderfully sophisticated, cultured yet friendly place to hang out in south Peckham.
184 Peckham Rye, London SE22 9AQ
+44 (0)203 490 3039
Open Mon-Sat 09.00-17.00, Sun 10.00-17.00
Evening openings and website coming soon
Bus No. 12 to Peckham Rye
Google map: bit.ly/p6WAxc
Eleven years ago, two Italian brothers opened Camberwell’s GXgallery in a painting frame shop, which still occupies the front space. The art-loving brothers bought the pet shop behind and expanded the arty area to include an exciting exhibition space in a former bakery in its cellar. I am as guilty as anyone of walking past, gazing into the very bright, white ground floor gallery and thinking ‘I might pop in next time…when I feel a bit more confident’, but now I am kicking myself for being such an art-wimp. It turns out the GXgallery is a friendly and welcoming space for artists: they encourage young talents and foster new masters. On the rainy Wednesday when I visited, the manager was out at a degree show in Wimbledon. Every August, the gallery shows a selection of degree shows from art schools in Wimbledon, Chelsea, Camberwell and beyond.
The ground floor gallery is a modern, clean white space, but downstairs in the cellar, a former bakery has been converted into a wonderful venue for art: the old bread ovens give a glimpse into the spooky world beneath the street, a beautifully-restored, original dumb waiter almost gives off the scent of freshly-baked biscuits and little nooks and crannies provide intimate areas for artists to show their work.
Stop press: on 15 July, artist Peter Blake brings his Art Bus to Camberwell, and parks outside the GX for one night only.
No.67 is a really great cafe, serving snacks, full meals, home made cakes, fresh lemonade, unusual beers, wines, you name it, in an arty setting. It's very, very hip but also very relaxed and friendly (these two are not exclusive, I suppose!) and a great place to chill out on the Peckham Road. The cafe takes up most of the ground floor of the uber cool South London Gallery and in warmer months, the terrace is a great place to sit and soak up the sun under the ancient 'tree of heaven'.
The lunch menu changes daily - today's offers included venison bresaola with rocket and parmesan, fish stew, celeriac soup or fennel marinated pork chop. I had a home made apple crumble tart (£3.75) - yum. The Spanglish breakfasts are legendary, but get there early at weekends as it's very popular.
South London Gallery, 67 Peckham Road
London SE5 8UH
+44(0)20 7252 7649
Google map: bit.ly/gC2LxH
Open Tue 10am-6.30pm, Wed 10am-9pm, Thurs-Sun 10am-6.30pm, closed on Mondays
Buses: 12, 36, 436, 345, 171 to Southampton Way
A project space that showcases the creative work of artists from Peckham and beyond.
Currently curated and managed by Sisters Burn, the gallery's programme includes exhibitions, live art, performance, events, lectures and workshops.
A recently opened gallery and cafe located almost opposite Camberwell Art College and a great place to chill out of a morning.
From the outside, along the vaguely grim Peckham Road, it looks a bit bleak and industrial inside but the welcome is really warm and there's free WiFi all day, cocktails, snacks and a licensed cafe and bar.
On Thursdays there are introductory food and drink offers, such as a buy one get one free 12" pizza, which can't be bad.
Conveniently close to the super cool South London Gallery and also supportive of The Sassoon Gallery (www.thesassoongallery.co.uk) NewGallery London is THE place to be seen on the Peckham Road.
I recommend the 'Tate Boat' to add an extra dimension to your day of art viewing. You can incorporate the Tate Modern and Tate Britain with a scenic boat trip in the middle. The boats go in both directions every 40 minutes and cost either £3.35 one way with a Travelcard or £5.00 without. If you prefer to make several trips in the day then you can get a Roamer ticket with Thames Clippers for £8 with a Travelcard or £12 without.
www.murallocator.org is a world-wide web of a gallery, to search out murals across the globe. Fascinating murals are on display from the Higgs Boson (ATLAS) detector, in Meyrin, Switzerland to Tupac Amaru Mural of Peru. Five are highlighted in London area, including the stunning Hackney Peace Carnival Mural located outside Dalston East Curve Garden. Dalston Lane is full of hustle, bustle where old and new buildings meet together and the perfect place for this Mural, unveiled by the late Tony Banks in 1985, depicting the Peace Carnival of 1983 and the many issues of the time.
Christie's is one of two internationally famous auction houses, the other being Sotheby's. Only clients of the auction house seem to be aware of the beautiful and varied works of art you can see at the auction house galleries. Both in the St. James and South Kensington offices you are free to walk in, browse the pre-sale exhibitions with no charge - and, fear not, there's no obligation to buy.
Christie's on King Street holds fantastic modern art, impressionist art and British art sales, as well as countless furniture and jewellery sales.
In South Kensington it's all a little more light-hearted with pop memorabilia, sporting memorabilia, musical instruments, clocks and house sales where you can often pick up good antique furniture bargains.
South Kensington is also famous for its drop-in valuations, so if there's something on your wall, in your attic or basement that you've always wondered about, take it to Christie's for a free valuation.
They're quieter than museums, and somehow much more personal. No ropes or screens to keep you back.
Their website will tell you what's coming up and when. And if you have time, attend an auction - the bigger sales at Christie's are fascinating to watch. Just don't twitch, stretch or fix your hair.
Christie's auction house, King St, St James and Old Brompton Road, South Kensington.
It's a delightful surprise behind the hustle and bustle of The Strand with a beautiful courtyard for fountains or movies, a museum of Russian artifacts from St Petersburg (The Hermitage Rooms) and a wonderful collection of paintings and other pieces of artwork at the Courtauld Gallery. There is a basement cafe at the Gallery, or a terrace restaurant overlooking the Thames, or The Admiralty for finer dining.
B2 is a new retail store specialising in selected brands of urban toys, clothing, street art, books and magazines. The shop also houses the UK's first manga library, filled with Japanese language manga books - the store told me that English language books will be arriving January 2008.
B2 is part of Bodhi gallery and cafe. The gallery has a fast turn around of contemporary art shows. It's turning into a nice cultural centre of art, food and shopping.
B2 / Bodhi
214 Brick Lane, London E1 6SA
t. 020 7749 0750
tube: Liverpool St, Aldgate East, Bethnal Green.
The former Southwark power station on the south bank of the Thames is a brilliant place for kids. Whatever the installation in the great turbine hall it's a fantastic place to run around. The shops cafes and views are all excellent, if a little busy. Kids like the pop art galleries, and if they are not that interested in the art, the walk along the riverbank will take you to the National Theatre in one direction and past Shakespeare's globe to the Golden Hinde and Borough Market (Fridays and Saturdays only) in the other - or over the millennium bridge on foot to St Pauls.
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