2. FINDING GREAT GALLERIES AND EXHIBITIONS

Start where you are

Online art maps such as the Art Fund Art Map are great resources. They can help you discover galleries and exhibitions in your own locality and elsewhere. In many cases, art maps include links to specific gallery websites where you can find out more. You might also like to try the Art Monthly: London Gallery Map. If you live in less urban areas you may not have as many obvious gallery and exhibition options, but there may be alternative, do-it-yourself, or pop-up art initiatives taking place in which you can get personally involved (see the ‘Look for exhibitions everywhere’ entry below)

Consult exhibition listings

Check out listings in community newspapers and magazines as well as published ‘what’s on’ guides and look out for notices in your local library or in shop and cafe windows. Read reviews in the local and national press (these are usually also available online). And of course there is word of mouth.

Look for exhibitions everywhere

Think about moving between: (1) big public galleries (whether the Tate, which is based in London, Liverpool and St Ives, or the National Galleries Scotland, the National Museum Cardiff, or National Museums Northern Ireland); (2) commercial galleries where you will find a lot of great contemporary art. These might be small local businesses or international enterprises (like Hauser & Wirth, with galleries in London, Somerset, New York and other global cities). Do be aware that some commercial galleries are closed at weekends. These galleries can feel a bit intimidating from the outside but do take the plunge and go in; staff are usually very open to answering questions if approached; (3) independent, university -and charity-based spaces (like the Freud Museum in London, Compton Verney in Warwickshire, Kettles Yard in Cambridge, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and The Shetland Gallery, Britain’s most northerly art gallery); and (4) alternate, informal, or pop-up spaces which might be artist run open studios, art fairs, specialist archives, projects in parks or other public or unusual spaces. In London, these range from ventures like Art on the Underground to Tate Exchange (Tate Modern) where participatory, shorter term projects take place. Street art, including graffiti, is incredibly rich and varied: see for instance work by Retnaor Rachel Sussman’s Sidewalk Kintsukuroi project. Commercial outlets, major brands and businesses also often collect art, collaborate with artists and art foundations, and hold
exhibitions (I still recall with pleasure when Burberry celebrated their autumn/winter 2017 collection with the exhibition ‘Henry Moore: Inspiration & Process’, a collaboration with the Henry Moore Foundation). Try picking a relatively small geographical area and aim to find and visit as many conventional and unconventional spaces of display as you can.

Follow up on existing interests

If you are interested in a specific topic (this need not be immediately art-related) or if, as an artist or viewer, you are interested in a particular medium or process — involving paint, metal, stone, glass, paper, or detritus (rubbish) and recycling, for instance — then use this as a prompt for selecting exhibitions and visiting specialist museums or archives. Likewise, follow up on topics, artists, writers or researchers of interest to you — you may discover permanent or temporary exhibitions, collections or archives dedicated to them that you can access online or visit in person (in some cases you may need to phone or email in advance and make an appointment).

Look near — and far

You can also get a sense of what is happening in other places, from as far afield as Sydney, Kabul and Seoul, via blogs and other online sites. See for instance the online journal Art Radar: Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond. Also check out the Galleries Now: Worldwide Exhibitions and Art Galleries art map. (Note the dearth of references in this resource to galleries and exhibitions in Africa).