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From Cathy Lomax’s “Dream America” Dolph Projects
From Cathy Lomax’s “Dream America” film series which she exhibited in 2015Dolph Projects

The artist-run spaces in London to get to know

Beneath the city’s gentrification, artist-run spaces are thriving with the freedom to set their own agendas – meet some of our favourites

It would be stupid to say gentrification isn’t affecting modern cities – London in particular. It would just as stupid, however, to say that all creativity has left the city, the capital is a cultural cul de sac and the art world is dead. Blow that. On the eve of Art Licks Weekend, which brings together artist-run spaces across the city for a three days of events, openings and art stuff, here are ten young art spaces in London that are garden fresh.


It is amazing that one of the most exciting programs for emerging artists takes place in an entrance corridor on a waste management estate in the industrial no man’s land of South Bermondsey. Seeing this rather brutal space reinvented by artists such as Lewis Teague Wright, Philip Seibel and Stephen Backes working with sound, video, painting, drawing and installation is endlessly interesting.


Castor Projects is a gallery run in a basement of a café in New Cross set up by artist Andy Wicks. However, with Goldsmiths around the corner, it’s not a bad location for a space working with emerging artist interesting in site responsive shows. Young names like Derek Mainella, who made an installation that glowed in UV, Kate McMilan’s impressive fusion of bronze alloy sculptures and video, and the current show by Claire Baily touching on art deco objects and architectural aesthetics.


Artists Paul Cole and Natasha Kahn set up Dolph in Streatham as a space to put on six solo shows a year, asking artists to reveal the personal behind their work. This has resulted in some great shows by better-known artists like Cathy Lomax who painted the space pink and exhibited her personal collection of film fan memorabilia and Americana, and currently painter Phil Allen deconstructing his processes by showing material and off-cuts he was going to throw in the bin.


Directed by Leopold Thun and Angelina Volk, the formerly nomadic Emailin is based in a unit opposite Shoreditch High Street station (on the bridge and tunnel train that brings Croydon and Stratford to Shoreditch on weekends). Working as a more established gallery, they have worked some serious hot artists like Athena Papadopoulos and Adriano Costa and are opening their space with the Lithuanian interventionist Augustas Serpainas this week.


How can you not love a space with a name this 90s? This Peckham space is an “experiment in making a gallery in your home and a home in your gallery”. This playful space that shows everything from Ben Westley Clarke’s pub paintings to sound installations and rubber sculptures. Check out the shop on their site for a good selection of hand bound zines from new names.


Now no longer the name of the most notorious tabloid in England, News of the World is a space in Deptford run by Pierre Coinde who has had his toe in the underground London art scene for a good few years. Over Art Licks Weekend, they are showing an artist adaptation of John Wyndham’s novel Day of the Triffids, but past projects have included a poetry reading by Maud Sulter and Natasha Magigi, and exhibition of photographic work by Logo Oluwamuyiwa.


In the heart of Bloomsbury, Passen-gers is a space in the Bruswick Centre referencing Michaelangel Antonioni’s film The Passenger which was shot in the utopian 1960s shopping-centre-cum-housing-block. Their focus is on imaginative envirvonments and a dose of architecture, launching this week with an exhibition by Mark Seibert on apocalypse and the landscape of Sim City.


Piper Keys have left their warehouse in Aldgate East and moved south to Greenwich to show their exceptional and highly pro programme of exhibitions (on weekends only). Past shows have included the always awesome Mathis Gasser, huge names like Per Kirkeby and Andrea Buttner, and currently young video maker and Slade graduate Vera Karlsson.


How can you not love a space named after a Muriel Spark novel? Their angle is the production and commission of art in “unexpected public places in Peckham” such as billboard and bus rides. They are taking part in Art Licks Weekend with a show with Illona Sagar and Daniel Kelly’s hair-dresser-cum-art-space DKUK.


The Koppel Project has not one but two spaces – one more classic space in Baker Street and ‘The Hive’ on Holborn Viaduct which has affiliated artist studios and residency in a former office block in Farringdon. The latter has kicked off with a show of work inspired by Columbia by Sol Bailey Barker and Gabriella Sonabend. Expect largely group shows and a dose of freedom.

Art Licks Weekend runs 30 September – 2 October 2016