The best small art galleries in the UK: see Bill Viola, Van Gogh, ‘England’s Michelangelo’ and more
February 18, 2016 | By:
Whether you like modern art, photography or something more traditional, the UK's smaller galleries have it all. Lucy Handley picks the best exhibitions currently showing
Jealous Gallery. 620x349

Joe Webb’s Cut It Out is at Jealous Gallery in London’s Shoreditch

Yorkshire Sculpture Park Chapel

The park is best known for its open-air sculpture, including work by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Ai Weiwei. But its refurbished 18th-century chapel is now used as a gallery space, currently showing the work of American video artist, Bill Viola, in all his birth-and-death themed glory. Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Bill Viola, Fire Woman, 2005. Courtesy Bill Viola Studio and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde. Yorkshire Sculpture Park Chapel.

Bill Viola, Fire Woman, 2005. Courtesy Bill Viola Studio and YSP. Photo by Jonty Wilde

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham

Housed in an Art Deco building at the University of Birmingham and opened by Queen Mary in 1939, the Barber is free to enter and boasts a collection including Monet, Renoir, Picasso and Van Gogh (the latter’s A Peasant Woman Digging has recently returned from a touring exhibition).

Current exhibitions include Into The Woods exploring how we see trees, woods and forests and runs until 12 June, and Prestige and Power, looking at portraiture and how it conveys status, until 15 May.

Jealous Gallery, London

Jealous is more of a studio than a public gallery, focusing on selling screen prints as well as supplying larger exhibition spaces. Its main studio is in Shoreditch, with another in Crouch End, Jealous North, which is currently showing Anything Goes, with work from Jess Wilson, Kate Gibb and Mr Penfold.

Anything Goes. Jealous Gallery. Mr-Penfold. 620x349

Anything Goes at Jealous North in London, featuring Mr Penfold

Heong Gallery, Cambridge

Downing College opened contemporary art gallery Heong earlier this month with pieces from alumnus Sir Alan Bowness’ private collection, including works from Allen Jones, Peter Lanyon and William Scott. The gallery is open on Wednesdays and weekends. Free.

Roger Hilton January 1962 in Generation Painting ©Ioana Marinescu. Heong Gallery. 620x349

January 1962 (tall white) by Roger Hilton at the Heong Gallery, Downing College. Photo by Ioana Marinescu

The Atkinson, Southport

Nearly 90 years ago, former fighter pilot Henry Segrave set a land-speed record along Southport beach, racing along at 152.33 mph, and on 26 March his winning Sunbeam Tiger will return to the resort as part of the Festival of Speed, organised by The Atkinson Gallery.

Henry Segrave, The Atkinson Southport. 620x349

Henry Segrave in his Sunbeam Tiger, preparing to race along Southport beach in 1926

If you’re not a classic car fan, then head to The Atkinson itself to see One Day, Something Happens: Paintings of People, a touring exhibition from London’s Hayward Gallery, or pick up one of Derek Culley’s colourful prints at The Atkinson’s new commercial gallery, from £90.

Bow Arts, London

Fancy a dolly mixture? Not the sweet version – the phrase is cockney rhyming slang for pictures – and East End gallery Bow Arts is showing work by Notting Hill Housing tenants in Dolly Mixtures, an exhibition running from 8 April to 12 June at its Nunnery Gallery.


Bow Arts Open Studios

Watts Gallery, Guildford

George Frederic Watts was known as England’s Michelangelo, and and his wife, Arts & Crafts designer Mary built the gallery to show his own work. It opened in 1904 and is part of an artists’ village, which also has a chapel, studios and Limnerslease, the Watts’ winter home.

Watts Gallery Artists' Village Guildford_620x349

Watts Gallery near Guildford

There’s a tea shop (which is licensed, so you can enjoy a cider or two) in Mary’s former pottery studio. All are in the pretty village of Compton near Guildford. Watts Gallery

The Upstairs Gallery, Beccles, Suffolk

Above Lloyds bank in the market town of Beccles is The Upstairs Gallery, featuring artists from all over the UK. Lifecaster and manager Michelle Payne is planning a series of pop-ups from March to May. Past exhibitions include zookeeper-turned-fine artist Naomi Hawkins’ collection of animal paintings.

Predella House
Sara Pope. Predella House.

Sara Pope’s Lips 3, on sale at Predella House for £350

If visiting galleries has inspired you to buy something for your own walls, Predella House is a new online gallery that aims to make collecting art a little more democratic.

Prices average around £350, but it also has limited edition drawings and etchings from the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Chagall from £500 to £50,000.

Run by an all-female team founded by Katrina Aleksa, it uses social media to reach new buyers and also runs classes on interior design.