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The biggest exhibitions to see in Sussex right now

Sussex Modern Stories  |  5 minutes read

Sussex is home to some of the UK’s best contemporary art galleries and museums, with a range of exciting exhibitions to see throughout the year. If you’re visiting Sussex soon, here are some of the biggest exhibitions now showing or coming soon at art museums from Chichester to Hastings.

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 April 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.

Manuel Mathieu: The End Of Figuration

The first institutional solo exhibition by this Haitian-born multi-disciplinary artist features a series of new paintings displayed alongside a dramatic site-specific fabric installation, reaching through the centre of the gallery against the ever-changing coastal backdrop of the English Channel. De La Warr Pavilion, until 27 May 2024

Manuel Mathieu: The End Of Figuration installed at De La Warr Pavilion. Photo: Rob Harris.

Clara Jo: Nests Of Basalt, Nests Of Wood

Upstairs in the first floor gallery until 1 April, US-born, Berlin-based artist Clara Jo presents her first institutional solo exhibition around the UK premiere of her new documentary fiction film: ‘Nests of Basalt, Nests of Wood’. The film weaves documentary footage filmed in Mauritius with speculative narratives to explore ideas of trauma in the landscape and our collective consciousness. De La Warr Pavilion, until 1 April 2024

Dorothy Hepworth and Patricia Preece: An Untold Story

The second season of Charleston’s new gallery space in Lewes celebrates the extraordinary story of Dorothy Hepworth and Patricia Preece – a duo whose secret artistic collaboration and lifelong romantic partnership remained hidden for decades. This remarkable exhibition lifts the veil on this extraordinary pair through paintings and drawings: works which were created by Hepworth but exhibited under the signature of her lifelong partner, Preece. Here, the artists are recognised as collaborators and co-conspirators for the first time. Archival photographs and letters highlight the untold story of the women’s collaborative approach to making and selling work, displayed alongside objects documenting their life outside of the studio, detailing Preece’s unconventional marriage to Stanley Spencer while simultaneously sharing a life with Hepworth, their journeys in Paris and their final residence in Cookham. Charleston in Lewes, 27 March–8 September 2024

Dorothy Hepworth, Girl in Blue, undated, oil on canvas © Dorothy Hepworth Estate. Image courtesy Private Collection

Duos: The Art of Collaboration

Drawing inspiration from the remarkable collaborative endeavours showcased in accompanying exhibition ‘Dorothy Hepworth and Patricia Preece: An Untold Story, this new group exhibition celebrates the power of creative partnerships. Showcasing shared canvases, dynamic working practices and collaborative identities, the exhibition includes works from The White Pube, Bob and Roberta Smith, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and highlights the enduring influence of the Bloomsbury group’s collaborative ethos – where roles are often fluid and boundaries between individual contributions blur. Charleston in Lewes, 27 March–8 September 2024

'Angels of a Drowning World', 2023. Lio Mehiel and Wynne Neilly, Sculpture by Holly Silius. Courtesy of the artists.

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

Elias Sime, Eregata እርጋታ

One of Ethiopia’s leading contemporary artists bring his first major solo show in Europe to Hastings Contemporary this spring, featuring over 20 large-scale abstract works, ceramic installations and sculptural assemblages. Elias’s work weaves, layers and assembles carefully selected everyday materials, transforming commonplace items into lyrical abstract compositions. He has been shown around the world and will feature prominently at the 2024 Venice Biennale. This exhibition will focus on the past decade of Elias’s career with over 20 works on display, including his landmark series Tightrope (2009-present) and the ceramic installation Bareness (2014), made up of 192 clay vessels. Hastings Contemporary, 16 March 2024 – 8 September 2024

“Tightrope: Behind the Processor #6” (2022). Photo by Jonathan de Waart

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

ABBA: One Week in Brighton

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s Eurovision win at Brighton Dome on 6 April 1974, this new exhibition  recreates the excitement of the iconic week that first catapulted the band to fame. Photographs, film, memories, and memorabilia feature alongside personal stories of people who were there, bringing that iconic week back to life in full Eurovision style.  Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, 28 March to 4 August 2024

ABBA win Eurovision 6 April 1974 © PA Photos / TopFoto

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

Nick Brandt – The Day May Break + SINK / RISE

SINK / RISE is the third chapter of The Day May Break, an ongoing global series by photographer Nick Brandt portraying people and animals that have been impacted by environmental degradation and destruction. This exhibition at Newlands House Gallery features South Pacific Islanders impacted by rising oceans from climate change. The local people in these photos, photographed underwater in the ocean off the coast of the Fijian islands, are representatives of the many people whose homes, land and livelihoods will be lost in the coming decades as the water rises.  Newlands House Gallery, 3 Feb – 29 May 2024.

Photo: Ben and his father Viti, Fiji, 2023 by Nick Brandt

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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