How London's Bethnal Green Became an Arts Enclave
A migration of art galleries to Bethnal Green, in London's East End, has turned the area into a thriving lifestyle destination.
“Artists are very aware of space,” says the London gallerist Maureen Paley in this video, the latest in a series for Travel + Leisure by Carlos Carneiro of London Sessions about the cultural tribes of London. “The artistic community has always been able to see rays of light, green shoots, and possibilities in buildings and places other people may ignore.” That eye for possibility is what drew Paley in 1999 to the derelict buildings of Bethnal Green, in London's East End.
The gallery that bears her name was one of the first to call Bethnal Green home, but in subsequent years, numerous others followed, including Laura Bartlett Gallery and Campoli Presti. “We are supportive of each other,” says Cora Muennich, director of Campoli Presti. “We usually try to coordinate openings on the same evenings, which creates a special atmosphere.”
After you're done gallery-hopping, there are plenty of restaurants in the area, like the offal-focused St. John, The Corner Room, Bistrotheque, and Sager + Wilde. And you don't have to ben art lover to enjoy a cocktail at the East London Liquor Company, with distills spirits on-site and serves a knockout gin and tonic. These dining and drinking destinations have helped transform Bethnal Green into a dynamic neighborhood. “There’s so much to choose from that one can’t even mention it all at once,” Paley says.
Laura Bartlett believes the East End has always provided the ideal conditions for this kind of growth. Artists have "the amount of space that they need and a community in which to develop ideas,” she says.
Be sure to check out other London culture videos, like this one about the skateboarding community in the eclectic South Bank district. Planning a trip to London? Don't miss this comprehensive list of things to do in the British capital.