Artfeelers tours to lift the lid on the East End

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The Independent Culture

Ever get the feeling there's a world of exciting art you're missing out on? Well, there probably is. But while art on the fringes can be the most fun, it can also be tricky to know where to start. Which is why Claire Flannery came up with Artfeelers, an organisation that runs art tours of the East End. East London has more galleries per capita than anywhere else in the world, and the aim is to lift the lid on the most cutting-edge artists, curators and spaces.

I join Claire for a special evening tour, showing art-lovers from more established venues such as the Hayward Gallery and the Wellcome Collection another side of the city.

We begin at the Schwartz Gallery, a late-19th century industrial complex in Hackney Wick, before heading to Rosie Emerson's private studio and home, which offers an insight into her working process. We move on to the Residence Gallery, off Victoria Park, before making it to the enormous James Taylor gallery.

These galleries show work that's also off-radar, and so the chance to chat to the artists, curators and owners is helpful. And when one of the exhibitions essentially captures the life of Ronald Wright – Hollywood portraitist, gay nude model and illustrator turned spiritualist and healer – talking to the man himself rather completes the experience. At Residence, the US artist Robert Hawkins sheds light on his eccentric exhibition, which includes a painting of fish performing As You Like It.

"They think I'm an outsider in New York. They think I'm an outsider here too, I guess," explains Hawkins. "They have a problem with humour in art ... although I don't know who 'they' are!"

Residence owner Ingrid Z claims that "they" also have a problem coming east. Both, however, seem almost pleased, explaining that Hackney galleries create their own scene. But if you've an interest in outsiders on the outskirts, Artfeelers provides an easy way in.

Artfeelers.com

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