Continuing our occasional series on London’s inventive guided tours.
Of London’s many strong cards, our reputation as a centre for art has to be near the top of the pile. The city is home to some of the world’s finest collections, arts colleges, festivals, experts, auctions and private galleries. In short, we’re a world leader.
At the same time, many people are baffled and even intimidated by art. There’s so much of it. Works are of varying quality and accessibility. And the people who write about art – even in promotional materials – often dress it up in vague, off-putting terms. Where to start?
Well, here are two good ideas: artistic tours of the capital that’ll help you understand and appreciate the many treasures about town.
Art expert Eleanor Nairn leads regular tours, each focussed on a particular arty neighbourhood. The 90-minute walks visit three galleries, giving participants the chance to not only look at some of the best contemporary art on show today, but also to meet the exhibitors and staff who make these shows happen. There’s a tour on tomorrow (23 July), as it happens, exploring the Fitzrovia area. Walks are £15 per person. If you like what you see, Fox & Squirrel run other ‘lifestyle’ walks, covering architecture, fashion and food.
Those seeking a more historical angle might give this company a try. Art History UK claims to offer an in-depth and intimate alternative to mass-market tours. Upcoming walks include an architectural tour of the Square Mile, an epic journey round the churches of Hawksmoor and Wren, and a guide to 16th Century Italian art in the V&A and National Gallery. What sets them apart? The sheer chunkiness of the adventure, with tours typically lasting more than five hours. Check out their upcoming listings.
Of course, there are many other art tours of London taking place at any given time, as well as companies who specialise in bespoke, prebooked tours. Do have a look around before making a choice.
See also: Charles Booth’s Deptford tour.
If you’d like to recommend an alternative guided tour of London, drop us a line at tips – at – londonist.com