BlogHow To

How To/ Find: Access Art in London- Private views and openings

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In the second of her posts, Ruby introduces us to the concept of ‘private views’- a long-standing tradition in the art world.


When I did my first internship I was told at a private view, “feel free to ask the artists about their work, every artist enjoys talking about their practice.” And it was true; by taking an interest, I learnt about the work through conversation, which sometimes can be more accessible (and memorable) than the text on offer.

Private views (normally) aren’t actually private at all, in fact they are bustling public gatherings which usually take place on the night before the first day of an exhibition. Visiting an exhibition can be something we do on our own, taking time to be somewhat alone with the art, to process it through our frame of references. However, viewing the show amongst other artists and having discussions can bring about multiple unique references from the people you talk to and open up your experience of the art even further.

Going to private views can offer an insight into the inner workings of the gallery space. Standing around chatting and getting into conversations at private views is an age-old tradition of the art space and a breeding ground for artist-to-artist and artist-to-gallery relationships (i.e. networking). Alternatively, you can attend as a silent and mysterious spectator, still in my book a valuable experience.

To get you started, here are a few suggestions for galleries who offer great private views and an online resource that will help you to search further afield.


Transition Gallery

Credit: GIF of images from recent private views at Transition Gallery- ‘Loose Certainties’ – Jennifer Campbell and Paul Housley – 23 Feb 2018 and ‘Sciomancy’ – Katherine Tulloh and Alex Pearl – 27 April 2018. Photographs, courtesy of Transition Gallery.
Transition Gallery, a space that supports mostly emerging or mid-career artists, does a private view really well. The atmosphere is always welcoming and warm, and there is a sense of community and support felt from the reoccurring faces. The artists in the show are usually always present at the opening, and the art and discussion isn’t just found on the walls. Transition Gallery sells a number of artist publications, zines and art objects such as handmade brooches as well as its own magazine ‘Garageland’. The publication which contains reviews, essays, texts is mostly written by the network of artists involved in the space. All of this results in a real feeling of community where you can debate and discuss art.

Transition Gallery
110a Lauriston Road
E9 7HA

Follow Transition Gallery on Instagram

Turf Projects

Credit: GIF of images featuring Turf Project’s ‘Mothers’ opening night, September 2018. Photographs, courtesy of Turf Projects.
Turf Projects work at engaging with the public through a number of projects, activities and also has artist studios attached to the space. But the best way to introduce yourself to the space is by attending one of their openings. They consciously call them openings as opposed to private views because they want to stress their open-ness. They have a collective of young artists called Art Press (instagram: @itsartpress) who are aged 14-21 and are working towards an exhibition at Turf on 3 November 2018. They also run crits which are open to the public and free- it’s an opportunity to bring your work and get feedback or simply listen to other artists’ practice. These are both key elements of studying a BA Fine Art course so will be helpful to your practice.

Follow Turf Projects on Instagram
Follow Art Press on Instagram

Turf Projects
Various venues

Art Rabbit

Credit: GIF courtesy of Art Rabbit. The Art Rabbit app shows you openings/private views as well as current exhibitions that are happening near you. It takes your location as a starting point so you can scroll through and see if anything takes your fancy. This is a great way of stumbling upon interesting spaces that you weren’t aware of in your area and beats doing your own research, trawling through gallery websites or social media.

Art Rabbit have just launched ‘The Art Freshers’ Guide’, an accessible resource for those just starting out as an art student. The book will be developed to include more invaluable voices over the coming year. You can read the book online or download for free.

Explore Art Rabbit’s exhibitions and events listings
Follow Art Rabbit on Instagram

Looking for more inspiration?

Another good organisation to look is the Arts Council. Sign up for their Arts News and Arts Jobs mail outs and you’ll receive listings of opening exhibitions and call outs as regularly as you like.

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