Cultural life

Tanishtha, a Fine Art and History of Art student, shares some of her favourite cultural spots in South London.

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You don’t have to travel into town to get your art fix – Tanishtha, who’s in the third year of a Fine Art and History of Art degree, shares some of her tips for enjoying cultural life in South London.

“London is a great place to study for many reasons, but it is especially good if you’re interested in the creative side of things. Ranging from performances and gigs, to artist collectives, and pop-up exhibitions, London has so much to offer.

You don’t necessarily have to be in Zone 1 to be part of London’s creative community – in fact, many of the smaller galleries and collectives are a lot more open to student participation. From the very start of my art degree, I realised that being in South East London was really beneficial to my studies.

There is always a performance or exhibition to go to and meet people that work in the industry. This area has been very helpful to build up a network of like-minded practitioners, as well as having a platform to show my own work.”

Tanishtha's favourite cultural activities

Bussey Building/Copeland Park

Bussey Building and Copeland Park is a collection of galleries, cafés, pop-up restaurants and markets as well as a club with music and live performances. It’s hard to cover everything because there’s always something new happening. Some of their activities are seasonal, such as the rooftop cinema, while the galleries and clubs are more permanent.”

Buster Mantis

Buster Mantis is perfect for something intimate as it’s in railway arches. Half of the venue (middle right) is a creative space where local people can host cultural events. They range from pop-ups and musical performances, to exhibitions and screenings. They’re friendly and easy to contact if you want to use the space.”

Deptford X

Deptford X is a contemporary art festival that features emerging artists who are commissioned to create site-specific works for the Deptford area. And every year an exciting fringe festival runs alongside this, including many site-specific events, most of which are completely free.”

Other museums we love

Want to explore a bit further afield? We've picked out five of London's best specialised, smaller museums that take you away from the big crowds and offer something different.

Cinema Museum 

Tucked away on a side street in Kennington is the Cinema Museum. This unique collection of artefacts, memorabilia and equipment preserves the history and grandeur of cinema from the 1890s to today.

The Old Operating Theatre

At the top of a spiral staircase in an old church near London Bridge you’ll find the only surviving 19th-century operating theatre in England. You can learn about medical history, peer into some interesting specimen jars, and watch live demonstrations of surgical techniques.

Cartoon Museum

Around the corner from the monumental British Museum, the Cartoon Museum includes original British cartoon and comic art from the 18th century through to Manga.

The Cartoon Museum is part of London’s Museum Mile, which runs from King’s Cross down to the River Thames. Visit the Museum Mile website to find out more.

Sir John Soane’s Museum

This unique museum near Holborn was the house of a famous English architect, and it has been kept as it was at his death 180 years ago. It is full to bursting with his collection of antiquities and works of art, including an alabaster sarcophagus. This place is truly a treasure trove.

Fashion and Textiles Museum

Founded by iconic British designer Zandra Rhodes, the Fashion and Textiles Museum aims not just to display and collect items relating to fashion, jewellery and textile design, but to inspire the next generation of creatives. It's on Bermondsey Street, which also has lots of coffee shops and restaurants to explore.