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Eight shows to see in Sussex this summer

Published 15 June 2021

From artists’ abodes to land art on Beachy Head, the beautiful south is a cultural hotspot this summer.

    • Farleys House & Gallery

      Muddles Green, East Sussex

      In 1977, after the death of her mother-in-law, Suzanna Penrose visited her late relative’s Sussex farmhouse to sort through the possessions. Up in the attic she made a major discovery: boxes and boxes of photographic prints, contact sheets and negatives. It was a life’s work. And the life was not an ordinary one.

      From 1920s New York glitz and the experimental Paris art scene, to the horrors of the Second World War, the American photographer Lee Miller witnessed much with her camera, while making many friends along the way. Her husband, the painter Roland Penrose, was a great champion of other artists in his activities as a writer, gallerist, curator and collector. The farmhouse became a meeting point for the couple’s circle, with artists such as Picasso, Man Ray and Eileen Agar RA enjoying this rural idyll.

      That home, in the village of Muddles Green, is now open to the public. Known as Farleys House & Gallery, it is a pilgrimage place for art-loving day trippers, thanks to the efforts of the Penrose family who maintain the building and its archive. They have created a new gallery space for larger shows, with Miller’s wartime fashion photography for Vogue currently under the spotlight (until 8 August 2021).

      Lee Miller, Hats

      Lee Miller, Hats, 1942.

      Vogue Studio, London.

      © Lee Miller Archives, England 2020. All rights reserved. leemiller.co.uk.

    • Pallant House

      Chichester, West Sussex

      The artist Roland Penrose was a great promoter of international Surrealism, and his gallery on London’s Cork Street showed the European avant-garde alongside his English friends Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson.

      The latter is the focus at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, in a show exploring how objects in his studio – in particular ceramics and glassware – nourished his art, allowing him to move from still life to nonfigurative work that relished purity of shape (26 June–24 October 2021).

      Ben Nicholson, 1946 (still life – cerulean)

      Ben Nicholson, 1946 (still life – cerulean), 1946.

      Oil on canvas over board. Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Kearley Bequest, through Art Fund, 1989) © Angela Verren Taunt. All rights reserved, DACS 2021.

    • Newlands House Gallery

      Petworth, West Sussex

      Also in Roland Penrose’s circle was the artist Joan Miró, whose quiet, disciplined personality stood in contrast to his exuberant works. This summer these light up Newlands House (until 4 July 2021), which opened last year in the South Downs market town of Petworth, already an art destination, thanks to Petworth House and its remarkable collections.

      After Miró, Newlands hosts a two-person show by husband-and-wife abstractionists Sean Scully RA and Liliane Tomasko, an RA Schools alumna (24 July–10 October 2021).

      Liliane Tomasko, Hung out to Dry

      Liliane Tomasko, Hung out to Dry, 2016.

      Courtesy of the artist..

    • Charleston

      Firle, East Sussex

      The most famous artists’ house in Sussex remains Charleston, near Lewes, once home to the painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and a home-from-home for other bohemians connected to the Bloomsbury Group.

      It presents the first major retrospective of the artist Nina Hamnett, a highly respected mover-and-shaker in London and Paris whose powerful portraits deserve to be better known. Running concurrently at Charleston is a new series of female nudes by Lisa Brice, here deploying her characteristic cobalt-blue oil on tracing paper (both shows until 30 August 2021).

      Nina Hamnett, Rupert Doone, Dancer

      Nina Hamnett, Rupert Doone, Dancer, 1922–23.

    • Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft

      Ditchling, East Sussex

      Children’s illustration is displayed at Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft, where the pioneering work of local resident John Vernon Lord – including his illustrations of Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear and Aesop’s fables – takes centre stage. His work is accompanied by artists including John Burningham and Quentin Blake (until 31 October 2021).

      'The Giant Jam Sandwich' rough

      'The Giant Jam Sandwich' rough

      Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft

    • De La Warr Pavilion

      Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex

      The art project England’s Creative Coast sees a series of site-specific sculptures set in dramatic seafront locations across Essex, Kent and Sussex.

      At Bexhill-on-Sea, the curved corpus of the De La Warr Pavilion – a gem of English modernist architecture – is invaded by a huge worm-like sculpture by the artist Holly Hendry. Composed of sections of different materials including brick, metal and sand-filled canvas, Invertebrate (2021) weaves its way around the building’s exterior up to the first-floor balcony; inside, an exhibition of Hendry’s wildly inventive mixed-media works are on view (until 30 August 2021).

      Holly Hendry, Invertebrate

      Holly Hendry, Invertebrate, 2021.

      Copyright the artist. Photo by Rob Harris..

    • Holy Trinity Church (Fabrica art gallery)

      Brighton, East Sussex

      The elements come indoors at Brighton’s Holy Trinity Church, now Fabrica art gallery, with the latest iteration of The Forked Forest Path (1998), by Olafur Eliasson Hon RA. Sustainably sourced local saplings and branches line the church’s interior, allowing the visitor to walk through a forest (until 20 June 2021).

      The Forked Forest Path

      The Forked Forest Path


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