Soft Opening


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Although at first an unlikely Bethnal Green exhibition space, Soft Opening on Herald Street is fast becoming our go to for the best the international art world has to offers on a constantly rotating basis.

Soft Opening

4 Herald Street
E2 6JS

The international mindset of London, and especially East London, is one of the Paradise Row Team’s favourite facets of the area. Where else in the world would such an unlikely gallery space host installations from Krakow and L.A. in the space of two months?

4 Herald Street is one such space, offering the best in emerging artistic talent in a hidden pocket of creativity on a backstreet of Bethnal Green.

Flagged by several publications as one of ‘the’ new exhibition spaces to visit in the and situated a mere two-minute walk from the Paradise Row Studio, it would have been madness for the #ParadiseRowCurates team to not check out the Bethnal Green venue of Soft Opening. With the other venue for each exhibition in Piccadilly Circus, this imagining is a two-pronged feast for the eyes and creatives of the area.

It’s always a magical experience visiting an installation at night, especially if that space is filled with art that seems to breathe, like Ingarden’s. We decided to visit after work; to an unassuming venue. It was inside a typical white brickwork which you had to ring the bell to enter.

Was this was an effort to add to the exclusivity of the event, or did we arrive past closing time, either way, we were made to feel extremely welcome by the person running the event, who kindly let us in and guided us up the stairs to Ingarden’s imaginings.

Our visits are always intimate and special, allowing the pieces to speak great volumes in a private setting (as it was only us inside the building). The Water Damage installation that we first visited sought to explore the convergence between inside and outside spaces. Crumbling castles, stained houses and crystals illuminated the space in millennial pink, but their meaning told a darker story of decay and transformation.

“Never has a tiny room felt so crowded and alive with only three installations.”

With a monthly rotation of artists you’ll be astounded you never discovered prior to your visit, the Soft Opening gallery on Herald Street is a must-visit for the discerning East London art-enthusiast. Not only will you experience the up-and-coming young visionaries that are on the verge of blowing up on the scene, but it costs absolutely nothing to enter; an ideal visit for students, creatives and anyone with a hunger for the best the area has to offer.

It’s to be expected in such a small exhibition space that its art will be affected by its perameters and people (and the ever-changing British weather), but that’s part fo the magic of Soft Opening: on our first visit, the nature of Agata Ingarden’s work was manipulated and influenced by its surroundings; whether it’s the light glinting off her mirrored butterflies, making them dance around the room, or the constant slow oozing of her homemade-caramel-covered metal structures. Never has a tiny room in East London felt so crowded and alive with so few installations.


Words + Photos: Hannah Crosbie