Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where artists lived and worked in London

I live in East London, which has more artists per square mile than any other place in Europe.

A little while ago, I discovered a website created by The Museum of London. In a way it's very sad because I came upon it completely by accident archived on their old website. I'm sure most people would never ever find it at all. However I am an inveterate searcher of websites for past exhibitions which is how I came upon the virtual website "Creative Quarters - the art world 1700 - 2000". This seems to have been constructed to support an exhibition of the same name which ran at the Museum of London from March to June in 2001. I found the book of the exhibition as a paperback secondhand edition available from Amazon for an astronomical price.

The idea is that it explores eight areas in London which have been associated with different artists over the years. It works like a matrix - one dimension is the timeline from 1700 through until 2000 and the other dimension is the eight areas of London. It then weaves in the lives of the artists and tells snippets of the story of their lives at different times as well as showing you where exactly on a map they were located.

What I found fascinating is that I knew already many of the connections they identify between artists and places - but I didn't know exact addresses or dates. This site makes what you learn from textbooks or exhibitions seem a bit more real. Plus it reminds you about how parts of London were considerably more rural in times past than they are now!

It also means I'm going to be walking around London in future looking rather more carefully at certain addresses!

The areas are:
Battersea Reach from Lindsey Houses
James Abbot McNeil Whistler
51.44 cm (20.25 in.), Width: 76.52 cm (30.13 in.) , oil on canvas

Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery (Scotland)
Some of the links take you right outside the exhibition to third party sites which I think is a pity as it disrupts the visual flow of this virtual exhibition.

Although the exhibition says it's tracing the journey of London's artists through the city from the 18th century to the present day, what it does not do is trace how individual artists move around London at different stages of their careers. This seemed to be missing which I thought was a pity.

Initially I was very excited about the website. Ultimately it left me wanting more and wondering when somebody is going to write the definitive guide to where artists lived and where arts organisation were located in London in times past.


  1. Katherine, have you heard about the Saatchi Gallery and BBC contest for atists to win an opportunity to work and live in East London for the Summer as part of a BBC Documentary on art and artists? We have chatted before and I had told you I lived in London in college as an art student. We talked about Atlantis Art Supply and my collage work! This website does sound very interesting indeed! It would be great to have a walking tour of it with a map!!

  2. Thanks Katherine, it is sad but also exciting to find these archived treasures online! I have bookmarked it to peruse at my leisure later on. :)

  3. Some people (whose comments have been rejected) have not read my comments policy!

    Do not comment merely to leave a link to your website which has no relevance to the post.


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