London Gallery Weekend wrap-up

Financial Times, June 17, 2023

Since its launch two years ago, London Gallery Weekend has grown up fast. The original handful of galleries has expanded into more than 150, from the big names to the smallest, spread across London, and the three-day extravaganza focuses on one geographical area on each day. With such a spread of locations, and the sheer number of participants, it now counts as the world's biggest free-to-visit gallery event.

This year's event, which took place in brilliant sunshine earlier this month, featured more than 100 events - curated walks, talks programming, performances as the galleries created showcase exhibitions and opened for extended hours. Overall visitor numbers were close to 50,000 over the course of the weekend, say the organisers.

Last year LGW began to look beyond the capital, and indeed the country, and for this edition a partnership with the Art Fund once again financed trips by 22 curators from regions around the UK (though some were derailed by a train strike). This year's expanded programme for the first time allowed  for a bursary that funded visits for four European curators.

As for the all-important collectors, the informal nature of the events makes attendance hard to gauge, say the organisers, but galleries report interested visitors from as far away as South Korea, as well as from the US and across Europe. Sales reports are also only informal, but there's much else to this event: for one new and very small participant, Studio Chapel in Deptford, it was all about "community-building and awareness" - things often hard to achieve for new-comers to the packed art scene.

For once, an initiative born of necessity in the pandemic, when art fairs were closed, has thrived and is building momentum to become an interesting fixture in London's art calendar.


Published in print.