Bring on the culture: where’s reopening and what’s on?
No amount of virtual exhibitions are a substitute for the real thing, so we’re thrilled to see so many of Sussex’s museums, galleries, artist’s houses and cultural venues reopening in the near future.
If you’re looking to get your art and culture fix, read on for our our pick of upcoming exhibitions and performances, who’s reopening and when, and what tempting prospects are on the horizon this summer.
Explore our route planner and make a day of it for the full Sussex Modern experience – curate your own trail of art, wine and landscape destinations across Sussex.
Reopens 18 May
There’s plenty to tempt you back to Towner this summer. There’s the most extensive exhibition of British artist John Nash in over half a century. John Nash: The Landscape of Love and Solace (18 May – 26 Sept) explores his hugely prolific, decades-long career, bringing together the artist’s paintings, wood engravings, line drawings, lithographs and watercolours.
Alongside Nash is John Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea (18 May – 26 Sept) – a three-channel film installation exploring humans’ relationship with the sea and its role in the history of slavery, migration and conflict. First shown at the Venice Biennale in 2015, the film feels especially relevant given the gallery’s coastal setting.
Finally, A Drawing, a story, and a poem go for a walk (29 May – 16 Jan 2022) sees artist Mariana Castillo Deball delve deep into the Towner collection to uncover rarely-displayed works like Leslie Moffat Ward’s 1943 print The Long Man of The Downs. The print is a centrepiece of the exhibition, reflecting Mariana’s fascination with geoglyphs – large drawings in the landscape.
Head to the Towner website.
Reopens 27 May
The eye-catching south coast gallery throws open its beachfront doors to a summery, uplifting show – Seaside Modern: Art and Life on the Beach (27 May – 26 Sept) – a celebration of British beach life from the 1920s to the 1970s.
Special guest curator James Russell has assembled paintings, sculptures and drawings from artists such as L S Lowry, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Laura Knight.
Head to the Hastings Contemporary website.
Pallant House Gallery
Reopens 18 May
If you didn’t catch Pallant House Gallery’s most recent exhibitions – Degas to Picasso: International Modern Masters, and Richard Hamilton: Respective – you’ll be pleased to know that they are reopening for a short period of time until 13 June.
Looking forward, a new season of exhibitions opens on 26 June which includes Ben Nicholson: From the Studio (26 June – 26 Oct) and Masterpieces in Miniature: The 2021 Model Art Gallery (26 June – Spring 2022).
Taking a closer look at how the artist Ben Nicholson transformed ordinary objects from his studio into experiments in abstract art, this is the first time his art has been displayed alongside the actual objects that inspired them.
The gallery’s uniquely tiny exhibition brings together over 80 original, miniature, modern artworks – all displayed across model art galleries. The exhibition features pint-sized works by contemporary artists such as Rachel Whiteread, Damien Hirst, John Akomfrah, Tacita Dean, Grayson Perry and Lubaina Himid.
Head to the Pallant House Gallery website.
Reopens 19 May
Charleston’s long-awaited reopening won’t disappoint! Alongside the house and garden are two stand-out exhibitions of work by two women artists working a century apart.
The first ever retrospective of early 20th century artist Nina Hamnett (19 May – 30 Aug) explores her frank and intimate portraits, her technical drawing skills, and her contribution to the modern art movement. The Welsh artist remained little known and much of her work has never been displayed publicly before.
Alongside Hamnett is a powerful portraiture series from South African artist Lisa Brice (19 May – 30 Aug). Brice’s bold, vivid paintings redefine classical depictions of the female nude, and question the balance of power between artist, model and muse.
Head to the Charleston website.
Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft
Reopens 20 May
Set in the picture-postcard South Downs village of Ditchling, DMAC is reopening with a display of over five decades of work by local illustrator John Vernon Lord.
Taking a Line for a Walk: John Vernon Lord and Friends (20 May – 31 Oct) showcases the original manuscripts of Lord’s children’s classic The Giant Jam Sandwich, alongside a fun, interactive installation. Lord’s artwork from classics by Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear and James Joyce are also featured, plus illustrations from the likes of Quentin Blake, Helen Oxenbury and Raymond Briggs.
Head to the DMAC website.
Farley’s House and Gallery
Reopens 20 May
The former home of Surrealist artists Lee Miller and Roland Penrose played host to modern artists such as Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Joan Miró, Dorothea Tanning and max Ernst during the 20th century. Alongside the house and sculpture garden, Farley’s is reopening with three exciting new exhibitions.
The Lee Miller Gallery hosts Lee Miller: Fashion in Wartime Britain (20 May – 8 Aug), which examines Miller’s prolific body of iconic fashion photography for British Vogue during the Second World War.
The Road is Wider than Long (20 May – 31 Oct) documents Miller and Penrose’s 1938 trip around the Balkans. A selection of their combined photographs capture a region unknowingly on the brink of war.
From Waste to Wall (20 May – 11 July) features striking collages created by Eastbourne artist James Owen Thomas from fragments of used scratch cards and other single-use items. These colourful symbols of ‘people’s lost hopes and dreams’ convey the environmental unease of our disposable culture.
Head to Farley’s website.
De La Warr Pavilion
Reopens 19 May
The Sussex coast’s modernist icon reopens with a trio of exhibitions and an ambitious programme of live events.
The artist Holly Hendry playfully imagines the Pavilion chewed up as part of the endless cycle of production and consumption, regeneration and renewal. Indifferent Deep (19 May – 30 Aug) is a series of sculptures sat amongst a half-eaten wasteland on the ground floor. Invertebrate (19 May – 30 Aug) is a giant sculptural form which burrows through the Pavilion’s rooftop and balconies before emerging out on the lawn outside.
The first floor gallery hosts deeply personal tales of diverse lives under COVID-19. All the Same Storm: Pandemic Patchwork Stories (19 May – 30 Aug) is a project initiated by the Refugee Project, Hastings, Rother & Wealden to bring communities together through storytelling and making. Four large quilts made up of 95 patchwork squares create a hand-stitched people’s history of the pandemic.
Head to the DLWP website.
Brighton Museum and Art Gallery
Reopens 18 May
From mid-May, three must-see exhibitions open up at Brighton’s much-loved local museum and art space.
Rock ‘n’ Roll with Me: Bowie/MacCormack 1973-76 (18 May – Jan 2022) is an intimate collection of unique photographs taken by music legend David Bowie’s close friend and travelling companion, Geoff MacCormack. It’s a chance to glimpse previously unseen images of the Thin White Duke, plus rare footage shot by Bowie himself at the May Day Parade in Moscow in 1973.
Queer the Pier (throughout 2021) is a community-curated display exploring local LGBTIQA+ history through the lens of film and photography, fashion and drag, and oral histories. A vital documentation of the lives of writers, artists, performers, activists and ordinary people who made Brighton & Hove fabulous.
Designing an Enchanted Palace: The Crace Decorators at the Royal Pavilion (18 May – June 28) reveals some 50 original designs for the Royal Pavilion interiors dating from the early 19th century. Also on show are Asian porcelain, enamels, glass paintings, hand painted wallpaper and images of China that inspired John and Frederick Crace’s work.
Head to the Brighton Museum website.
Reopens 20 May
Glyndebourne Festival (20 May – 29 Aug) returns in 2021 with new productions of Janáček’s Kát’a Kabanová, Rossini’s Il turco in Italia and Verdi’s Luisa Miller, alongside a revival of Mozart’s Così fan tutte. In a change to original plans and in service of the opera’s epic score, Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde will be presented as a semi-staged concert with a full orchestra seated on the stage.
British printmaker and painter Tom Hammick is Glyndebourne’s current Associate Artist. Hammick’s work fuses nature, music, poetry, cinema and myth, showcased this summer in a series of woodcuts and etchings presented both online and on site (18 May – 18 Sept).
Forces of Nature (18 May – 18 Sept) is Glyndebourne’s first all-women exhibition, bringing together new works on paper and canvas. The show explores women’s relationships with nature, forms, beauty and power.
Glyndebourne’s gardens will also be home to nine site-specific sculptures this summer, by the artist Halima Cassell MBE. This is her first major exhibition since being recognised for outstanding Services to Art in the 2020 New Year’s Honours List.
Head to Glyndebourne’s website.
Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts
Reopens 19 May
Brighton-based artist duo, Semiconductor, have created HALO (19 May – 4 June) – a large scale immersive installation at ACCA. The intricate mechanical structure is operated by data collected at CERN, which recreates conditions shortly after the big bang. Tickets have been selling fast for this multi-sensory experience, which is only on for a short time, so make sure you don’t miss out.
Head to the ACCA website.
Explore more of Brighton Festival 2021.
Chichester Festival Theatre
Reopens 3 June
In the lead-up to the summer run of South Pacific, Chichester Festival Theatre has lined up a June weekend of fun in the sun.
Concerts in the Park (3-6 June) offers a packed weekend of socially-distanced live music, with a celebrity compère joined by West End stars such as Carly Bawden, Ako Mitchell and Sharon Rose, plus a live band performing hits from the musicals and more.
Family Fun in the Park (4-5 June) sees BAFTA-winning Emily Burnett reading Lauren Child’s That Pesky Rat, with actors using puppetry to bring the stories to life. There’s also a chance to cut loose and bust some moves with ‘Dance-Along’ as part of Telling Tiger Tales.
Head to the Chichester Festival Theatre website.
Reopens 17 May
Lewes’ independent cinema, bar and restaurant is only a stone’s throw away from the train station. It’s cranking up the projectors once again and reopening in mid-May. Show your support for local cinema and book yourself a ticket to see Oscar-winning Nomadland (17-27 May), and stay for a delicious meal. You’d be hard pushed to find a better setting.
Head to Depot’s website.
West Dean Gardens
Lovingly restored and full of historic features from surreal trees to the sunken garden, the Gardens at West Dean are a unique outdoor space which offers surprises at every turn. If you’re visiting with kids, they’ll have great fun with the newest additions – an upcycled bug hotel and willow-woven garden dens.
Head to West Dean’s website.
Also on our radar…
Reopens 18 May
A converted city-centre Regency church is the perfect Brightonian spot for boundary-pushing contemporary art. This month’s adventure is The Forked Forest Path (18 May – 20 June) – an immersive installation from the mind of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. Enter this twisted thicket of fairytale-forest pathways and go on a memorable multisensory journey through the sights, scents and textures of a wood in winter.
Head to Fabrica’s website.
Newlands House Gallery
Iconic Spanish artist Joan Miró is best known for his abstract, surrealist works. Newlands House Gallery’s career-spanning exhibition La Gran Belleza (1 May – 14 July) showcases the artist’s paintings, sculptures, engravings and drawings, and explores his enduring legacy.
If you haven’t already been to visit Newlands House Gallery, keep your eyes peeled for some exciting programming on the horizon.
Head to the Newlands House Gallery website.
As ever with Sussex, a day trip is rarely enough! So why not give yourself a weekend away to escape and make the most of our inimitable mix of art, landscape and wine?
As the county reopens, our cultural venues, vineyards and green spaces are lying in wait. Wherever your Sussex adventure takes you, be sure to use the hashtag and share them with us.