After 16 years of exhibitions, performances, residencies and events, Camden’s Zabludowicz Collection will be closing for good this December. Founded by mega-collectors Poju and Anita Zabludowicz back in 2007, the huge converted church at 176 Prince of Wales Road became a way for them to show off their collection while also commissioning new work by some incredibly exciting young artists. All their exhibitions were free, as was their public programme.
Over the years, they developed a reputation for forward-thinking, adventurous, non-commercial and often technologically minded exhibitions. They were among the first galleries in London to give significant attention to VR, they did exhibitions about video games in art, they built anechoic chambers and fully functional arcades.
They also gave residencies and funding to young artists like Rosie Gibbens and Guy Oliver in their ‘invites’ section, and gave early major shows to people like Marianna Simnett, Rachel Maclean and Benedict Drew. It was a place where young artists could get a start, or even something bigger.
But they also often just put on really good exhibitions. Their Donna Huanca exhibition in 2016 was mesmerising, shocking and beautiful, their Shana Moulton show was clever and intense, and their recent LuYang show was ultra-ambitious, super-immersive and wholly unique.
The Zabludowicz Collection will continue to exist without a physical space and will focus on loaning works to international exhibitions. The closure will see multiple roles being put at risk.
The gallery wasn’t without its controversies though. The Zabludowicz family’s links to Israel made it a target for boycotters and protesters, and eventually a whole group was set up to oppose the collection. BDZ (Boycott/Divest Zabludowicz) picketed exhibitions and pressured artists who had sold work to the family to ‘deauthor’ those artworks.
Regardless of your position on the politics of the situation, the Zabludowicz Collection was an exciting, approachable, free place for art in London that supported young artists and gave a platform to something other than yet more endless figurative painting. It’s a loss.
You’ve still got time to catch their last show, ‘All Crescendo, No Reward’, which closes on December 17. More details here.
Stay in the loop: sign up for our free Time Out London newsletter for the best of the city, straight to your inbox.