Exploring Peckham’s Art Scene

In a city that is increasingly becoming gentrified, new, under-the-radar art is hard to come by. London is incredibly well known for its big galleries like Tate Modern and the Saatchi Gallery, or Mayfair’s Cork Street lined with many contemporary art galleries. But these spaces come at a premium, which is why up-and-coming artists are heading to Peckham, the south-east corner of the city probably best known for being the home of Only Fools and Horses.

Students from nearby art schools Camberwell and Goldsmiths have been credited with building up Peckham’s art scene, creating a network of young artists who set up shows for each other and offered a new and alternative approach to art in London. Now Peckham is a must-visit for anyone with an interest in contemporary art and culture, with new galleries and exhibition spaces opening up in the area.

Bold Tendencies

'Agora' by Richard Wentworth, commissioned by Bold Tendencies.

Richard Wentworth ‘Agora’. Image property of Quintin Lake.

Peckham’s art scene came into its own with Bold Tendencies. Launched in 2007, it transformed a multi-story car park into a place that is now famed for its summer programme of visual art, architecture, music, film, theatre and literature. Not to be missed is the rooftop, where yoga classes take place mornings and evenings, and where Frank’s Café serves up London’s best Campari cocktails.

Hannah Barry Gallery

'Intersection Point' by James Balmforth.

James Balmforth ‘Intersection Point’. Image property of James Balmforth.

The woman behind Bold Tendencies, Hannah Barry opened up her permanent gallery space in an old meatpacking factory in November 2013. Showing artists such as James Balmforth, Oliver Eales and Marie Jacotey, the Hannah Barry Gallery is a must-visit for discovering some of the most exciting new art.

Peckham Platform

Anna Best's 'The Subject Index: An incomplete history of Peckham 1900-2014'.

Anna Best ‘The Subject Index: An incomplete history of Peckham 1900-2014’. Image property of Peckham Platform.

A creative and educational charity, Peckham Platform builds ‘positive cultural experiences’ for both artists and communities. Past exhibitions have included Bookbed by local artist Ruth Beale – a giant book-shaped bed that explored the concept of the library alongside 21st century technologies – and Peckham Square Studio by Photographer Eileen Perrier, which was made up of black-and-white photographs of local residents.


The 'Asylum' exhibition space.

‘Asylum’. Image property of Jo Dennis

A former chapel founded in 1827, Asylum is used as a project and exhibition space, and is also hired out as a film and photography location. Bombed during the blitz, only the walls with original stained-glass windows and carved monuments survived, but that only adds to the charm of the space.

Words by Angharad Jones

Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert