Victoria Miro Gallery
Reading Time: 2 min
Hidden just off Old Street, you’d be hard-pressed to find a gallery that captures the innovative East London passion for great art like the Victoria Miro gallery does.
16 Wharf Road
With beautiful oblong silhouettes of Victorian factories gone-event-spaces, lush open green spaces and canals that snake through the borough, it’s little wonder that East London has become an area so aesthetically defined by its past. The Victoria Miro powerhouse has fallen victim to that same industrial charm, with its East London space calling an ex-furniture factory home.
After her initial pop-up curation in Mayfair, the famous Victoria Miro found her first permanent home on the Wharf Road space, and it’s no wonder why. The 8,000 sq. ft. space that echoes the textile industry that once boomed in East London is the perfect versatile venue to exhibit the best in international art.
Celebrating its 35th birthday, it’s a space that stays relevant and fresh; curator Katy Hessel just enjoyed her first collaboration with Victoria Miro, celebrating three of her eponymous ‘Great Women Artists’, those who are shamefully not broadcast to the public, showcasing artists otherwise unknown to the public: María Berrio, Caroline Walker, and Flora Yukhnovich.
Indeed, championing unknown artists is something that’s become near synonymous with Miro. Dubbed the ‘great dame of British art’; she’s no stranger to shouting on behalf of those with a voice less large. Infamously, within the first couple of years of her career (and two years after Charles Saatchi launched his first art space), the East London gallerist displayed a work by Hans Haacke — German artist and controversial activist — that detailed Saatchi & Saatchi's various business dealings with apartheid-era South Africa.
“Championing unknown artists is something that’s become near synonymous with Miro.”
Visiting a gallery while the rain is pouring outside is often an experience that offers you solace from rainy London, but the Victoria Miro is a place that seems to blur the boundaries between the inside space and the outside. After walking through the wide exhibition space on the ground floor, the tall, Victorian windows and open door on the other side let you feel the crisp London air if you walk close enough, and pique a curiosity to explore its surprise in the rear.
Take a minute in the serene garden, complete with dripping foliage, minimal decking for contemplative pacing, and a small family of ducks, before you ascend to the second floor for an experience completely different to the one you had downstairs. When the Paradise Row Team visited, we were greeted with waves of claps and footsteps as Isaac Julien’s nine screen tribute to Lina Bo Bardi brought attention
It’s said that the cultural relevance of a gallery can be assessed through the types of people in its exhibitions; we saw young, old, seasoned gallerist and keen art-newbie pausing for thought in front of its pieces.
Our assessment? Bring on the next 35 years.
Words + Photos: Hannah Crosbie