The 9 best art galleries in east London

Best art galleries in Hackney
Parasol Unit by Michael Drain Architects,

For decades Hackney has been a hive for cultural creation and remains an artistic hotspot at the heart of the East End. Here’s our guide to the best art galleries in Hackney.

1. Whitechapel Gallery

At the foot of the ever-trendy Brick Lane sits the Whitechapel Gallery, a revered hub among art critics and tote-bag-toting hipsters alike. Founded in 1901, its premiered bona fide greats include Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Frida Kahlo. Quality rarely wavers, and it’s capable of serious contemporary art showstoppers.

77-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX


2. Calvert 22

Named after its address, 22 Calvert Avenue in Shoreditch, is the UK’s only not-for-profit gallery dedicated to contemporary art from Russia and Eastern Europe. But don’t worry, it’s not all Soviet propaganda– although there is some of that too. Expect bold imagery, classic and contemporary, and some striking photography exhibitions.

22 Calvert Ave, London E2

3. Stour Space


Hackney Wick has the highest concentration of art studio spaces in the world, with over 600 individual venues clustered around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Cynics might suggest that’s due to the borough’s sky-high rents, forcing artists to cram themselves into smaller spaces, but there’s definitely quality. A great starting point is Stour Space, which is home to thoughtfully curated contemporary exhibitions and performances.

7 Roach Rd, Tower Hamlets E3 2PA

4. Parasol Unit

Julian Charriere installation at Parasol Unit

Parasol Unit is off the beaten path for most gallery goers. It showcases the kind of artists that you’ll find at art fairs and biennales, with a distinctly avant-garde twist. Housed in a 5,000 square foot warehouse and renovated by the Italian architect Claudio Silvestrin, the gallery is based on the Kunsthalle model, with no permanent collection – need we say more?

14 Wharf Rd, London N1 7RW

5. Flowers Gallery

Angela Flowers founded her first gallery in 1970 on London’s West End, but now she runs three – one of which is on Kingsland Road. It’s not a place for art snobs, and you’ll find all sorts wandering in off the busy street (especially during their rowdy private viewings). There’s great work to be seen, often photography, but it’s never too taxing – they leave the theses on postmodernity to others.

82 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8DP

6. Chisenhale Gallery


You won’t find the Chisenhale Gallery on most lists, but it is a giant when it comes to delivering agenda-setting exhibitions. The gallery occupies the ground floor of a 1930s veneer factory, and is something of a breeding ground for future Turner Prize winners – the UK’s premier modern art award. Their shows – painting, mixed media, performance – completely transform the gallery space, and you’ll often see a famous face or two among the visitors.

64 Chisenhale Rd, London E3

7. Hundred Years Gallery


Despite its grand title, Hundred Years Gallery is about as homely as they come. They provide a platform for “radical ideas and young or unrepresented artists”, which tend to be both local and international. Its owners serve up Monmouth coffee in a comfy corner, the shop stocks affordable artwork and design books, and there’s also a basement that doubles as a photography studio.

13 Pearson St, London E2 8JD

8. Cell Project Space


Hidden behind a nondescript grey door front, and then a leafy passageway full of tree ferns, hides the Cell Project Space. The non-profit leases affordable studio space to 140 artists within its 4 buildings, which it then invests in its charming exhibition space. They have a truly mixed and international roster, recently showing art from the Netherlands, Korea, Japan, Poland, Germany, Denmark, and USA.

258 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9DA

9. Union Gallery


With a hardline focus on emerging young artists, this place is usually populated by clusters of art students. Founded in 2007 by Jari Lager, Union Gallery also represents a handful of artists, including Matthew Stone, Soon Hak Kwon and Rose Wylie. While you’re over in Bethnal Green, it’s probably worth the short walk over to Vyner Street, which has a real mixed bag of galleries along it.

94 Teesdale St, London E2 6PU