The biggest exhibitions to see in Sussex right now

Sussex Modern Stories  |  5 minutes read

Autumn is always a special time in Sussex, as the vineyards enter their busy harvest season and the region’s many galleries and museums launch major exhibitions.

This year’s cultural season in Sussex is bigger than most – as the world-famous Turner Prize lands in Eastbourne for six exciting months. If you’re visiting Eastbourne for the Turner Prize, be sure to check out some of the other exhibitions taking place in the region. Here’s our guide to some of the biggest new Sussex exhibitions to see this autumn and winter.

Turner Prize 2023

See the work of Turner Prize’s four shortlisted artists – Jesse Darling, Ghislaine Leung, Rory Pilgrim and Barbara Walker – on display at Towner Eastbourne  until Jan 2024. This is the first time the prize has ever been held in Sussex, and it comes to the town during an important year for Towner Eastbourne as the gallery celebrates its 100th year. The exhibition of the shortlisted artists’ work, and the announcement of the prize, forms the centrepiece of Towner Eastbourne’s centenary celebrations. The announcement of the winner of the Turner Prize 2023 will take place on 5 December 2023. Towner Eastbourne, 28 Sept 2023 – 14 April 2024

Jesse Darling, No Medals No Ribbons, installation.

David Hockney: Love Life 

At Charleston this autumn and winter, see up close the extraordinary power of observation and artistic finesse that characterises David Hockney’s early works in ‘Love Life’: a collection of rarely displayed drawings by one of the most popular and recognisable artists of our time. This selection of works from the 1960s and 70s exemplifies the artist’s ability to find beauty in the seemingly ordinary aspects of life, while intimate portraits of friends from that time, including Ossie Clark, W.H. Auden and Celia Birtwell, recall a moment in the artist’s life and career. Charleston, until 10 March 2024

David Hockney Ossie Wearing a Fairisle Sweater 1970 Colored pencil on paper 43.18 x 35.56 cm (17 x 14 Inches) © David Hockney Photo Credit Fabrice Gibert

Bring No Clothes: Bloomsbury and Fashion

Charleston launched a new second space in the heart of Lewes this autumn, with a major exhibition exploring the Bloomsbury group through fashion. ‘Bring No Clothes: Bloomsbury and Fashion’ is the first major exhibition to explore the fashion of the Bloomsbury group, and how the 20th century cultural collective still impacts global style over 100 years on. Curated by writer Charlie Porter, the exhibition spotlights the relationship that radical figures such as Virginia Woolf, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell had with clothing, while celebrating 21st century fashion designers who have found inspiration in Bloomsbury art and life. Charleston in Lewes, until 7 January 2024

ior Men Summer 2023 group shot in front of Charleston reconstruction; photograph: © Brett Lloyd (full collection and set not shown in exhibition)

Hélio Oiticica: Waiting for the Internal Sun

Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980) is widely regarded as one of Brazil’s most prominent artists of the twentieth century and a touchstone for much contemporary art made since the 1960s. Through freewheeling, participatory artworks – cinematic installations, immersive environments, interactive objects and abstract paintings – Oiticica challenges us to engage with our surroundings in new and unexpected ways, stimulating our senses, emotions and physical bodies. This landmark exhibition, presented across the gallery spaces of the iconic De La Warr Pavilion, centres on the artist’s life and work throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, during which he spent brief stints in London and Sussex. De La Warr Pavilion, until 14 Jan 2024

Hélio Oiticica: Waiting for the internal sun, 2023, Installation view, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea. Photography: Rob Harris

Double Weave: Bourne and Allen’s Modernist Textiles

Marking ten years since Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft’s major redevelopment, this exhibition celebrates the museum’s co-founder Hilary Bourne and her partner in life and creative practice, Barbara Allen (1903 – 1972). Giving space to their story, ‘Double Weave’ highlights the invisibility of women as leading modernist designers and how women’s intimacy informs creative pursuits. High profile commissions undertaken by the pair are on display, such as the costumes from Ben-Hur and curtains designed for the Ceremonial Box at the Royal Festival Hall. Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, until  14 April 2024

Double Weave: Bourne and Allen’s Modernist Textiles

Nengi Omuku: The Dance of People and the Natural World

Opening at Hastings Contemporary in October, this is the first major UK solo exhibition of new and recent works by Lagos-based artist Nengi Omuku, exploring her profound relationship with the natural world. Seeking to broaden the exposure and awareness of the vibrant contemporary Nigerian art scene, the exhibition feature​s more than ten pieces​, spanning five of Hastings Contemporary’s eight galleries. Hastings Contemporary, until 3 March 2024

Nengi Omuku, Eden, oil on sanyan, 2022. Photo courtesy of the artist / Pippy Houldsworth Gallery.

Eastbourne Alive public art trail 

To accompany the Turner Prize exhibition, Eastbourne Alive has curated a series of major artworks across public spaces in Eastbourne by artists including Nathan Coley and Helen Cammock. Drawing on the resort’s original design from the mid-nineteenth century – laid out in long tree-lined boulevards marked by grand monuments and statues – this series of temporary public interventions explore the notion of a modern-day monument, investigating what these cultural markers might look like today and the sorts of events, objects or people they memorialise. Discover the works and artists here.

'Lamassu of Nineveh' by Michael Rakowitz installed outside Towner Gallery, Eastbourne. Photo: Rob Harris

Lee Miller: Dressed

View rarely seen items from the wardrobe of photographer, surrealist, model and war correspondent Lee Miller in this intimate exhibition examining her life and work through her clothing. Beginning in Paris in the late 1920s and ending in Sussex in the mid-1950s, it includes outfits that represent key moments in her biography and her creativity. High fashion from 1930s Europe and New York; jodhpurs, bathing wear and folk dress from travel and adventures in Egypt and Europe with surrealist friends and artists, military uniform and her work as a war correspondent, maternity dress, motherhood, and life in rural Sussex as a surrealist host. Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, until 18 February 2024

Copyright: LeeMillerArchives

Jonathan Baldock: through the joy of the senses

In the top floor gallery two at the new Charleston in Lewes, leading contemporary artist Jonathan Baldock brings together large-scale sculptural pieces for a colourful and rich immersive experience. Inspired by the gardens at Charleston, folklore and the threshold of home and nature, Baldock works with a range of materials, including fabric, paint and ceramics to create installations that often explore our relationship to the body and the space it inhabits. Charleston in Lewes, until 7 January 2024

onathan Baldock: through the joy of the senses. Installation view at Charleston in Lewes.

John Craxton: A Modern Odyssey

Immerse yourself in the sun-lit landscapes of Greece and its vibrant people at Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery this winter. This retrospective follows the works of celebrated British Romantic artist, John Craxton R.A. (1922–2009); from his melancholic images of poets within brooding landscapes created in Britain in the early 1940s, to the radiant paintings and drawings inspired by his adopted homeland in the Mediterranean. Shown for the first time alongside this exhibition, contemporary artist Tacita Dean presents Crackers (2023), a new two screen film projection which she recently created in Crete as a musing on her friendship with the artist. Pallant House Gallery, until 21 April 2024 

John Craxton, Greek Fisherman, 1946, Oil on board, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (On Loan from a Private Collection, 2013) © Estate of John Craxton

Eve Arnold: To Know About Women 

This major exhibition of pioneering photojournalist Eve Arnold  brings together over 90 of her most important photographs taken over six decades. Arnold became Marilyn Monroe’s go-to photographer for over a decade, and was headhunted by Magnum Photos in a male-dominated time. Though she was chosen by some of the world’s most famous figures, like Marlene Dietrich, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth II, subjects throughout her six-decade career were diverse; from a same-sex couple’s wedding to migrant potato pickers on Long Island, New York, and from civil rights activists in the 1960s to the first minutes of a baby’s life. Above all, she was drawn to women and children, documenting women’s lives from bars to brothels and film sets to fashion shows. Newlands House Gallery, until January 2024.

Photo: Christopher Ison

Rottingdean Bazaar: Existence Proof

An exhibition of new works by multi-disciplinary artists Rottingdean Bazaar – artists James Theseus Buck and Luke Brooks – at Devonshire Collective’s VOLT gallery in Eastbourne. Existence Proof is one of three upcoming commissions by the duo in Eastbourne. For the duration of the exhibition, VOLT gallery will feature a new window commission made in partnership with photographer Annie Collinge, their long-time collaborator. A short walk away from the gallery, a public work by the pair will also be on show: one of twelve public art works commissioned by Eastbourne Alive to coincide with the Turner Prize 2023. VOLT, 10 September –  12 November 2023.

Read more about the Turner Prize exhibition at Towner Eastbourne, find more things to do and see in Eastbourne, and discover more Sussex art galleries.

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