16 great places for art in Sussex

PUBLISHED: 16:39 05 September 2016 | UPDATED: 15:01 21 February 2018


From Turner at Petworth to the Bloomsbury Group at Charleston Farmhouse, Sussex has a rich history of painting. Hazel Sillver looks at exhibitions, painting tuition, and the best places to whip out your easel.

Petworth House

The Baroque mansion at Petworth is home to many great artworks, including 19 oil paintings by Turner, as well as paintings by Reynolds, Laguerre, Titian, Blake and Van Dyck.

01798 342207; nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth-house-and-park 

Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

This fabulous gallery holds a permanent collection of art, including works by the late great Sussex painters Ivan Hitchens and Peter Iden, and hosts exhibitions. The gallery also offers art courses, including Modern Art and the Old Masters.

01243 774557; pallant.org.uk

Medieval Murals, near Pulborough

The 12th century wall paintings at St. Botolph’s Church in Hardham were hidden from view until their discovery in 1862, and are thought to be the earliest complete set of murals in England. Anglo-Norman in style, they depict religious scenes, such as the Annunciation. Open daily.


Jen Green, landscape painter

Sussex-based artist Jen Green paints watercolour scenes of the local countryside, including the South Downs, as well as landscapes depicted on her travels, such as the Alps and Nepal.

01273 857552; greenartandcraft.co.uk 

Kingley Vale, near Chichester

Set up your easel in front of one of the enormous 2,000-year old yew trees at Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve. Local artists, such as Nicola Rose, have captured their gnarled dark beauty in paints. 

Gentle Framers, near Storrington

This small family business offers good quality picture framing from their workshop in the downland village of Washington.

01903 893925; gentle-framers.co.uk

Learn to Paint, Lewes

The New School of Art holds studio-based painting lessons, as well as tuition outside, such as Introduction to Landscape Painting, in the South Downs.

01273 358881; thenewschoolart.org

Devil’s Dyke, near Poynings

Said by Constable to be “the grandest view in the world”, this high point on the South Downs, where the hills undulate away to the west, is a fine place to set up your easel. 

Art Shop, Hove

This new shop in Brunswick sells a range of art materials (including oil, acrylic and watercolour paints), and also boasts a teaching studio, gallery, and pottery painting workshop.

01273 728282; artshopandpottery.com

Therapeuic Painting, Brighton

Inspiring artist Carolyn Nicholls healed herself following brain surgery by painting. Now she offers sessions in exploring painting as a form of relaxation, therapy, and release.

01273 278523; nationalbrainappeal.org

Charleston and Berwick, near Lewes

Charleston Farmhouse was home to Bloomsbury Group painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, who unleashed their talents on its walls, fireplaces, and doors. As well as the incredible decor, there are paintings hung around the house to enjoy, and Charleston hosts a series of workshops. Also worth a visit is the nearby church at Berwick, which contains murals by Bell and Grant.

01323 811265; charleston.org.uk; berwickchurch.org.uk

Seven Sisters, near Seaford

Set up your easel by Coastguard Cottages, at Seaford Head. From here you can paint the white chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters unfurling to the east – the most iconic view in Sussex. 

Learn to Paint, Eastbourne

Enjoy courses in oil or watercolour painting, and portraiture in acrylics, at the South Street Art Studios, beginning in September. The adjacent South Street Gallery exhibits local painters.

07539 264952; southstreetartstudios.co.uk

Cake and Art, Rye

Admire paintings and other artworks whilst you enjoy a cup of tea and a slice of cake. The Avocet Gallery and Tea Room in Rye Harbour is open from Thursday to Sunday.

01797 223 005; avocetgalleryandtea.co.uk

Painting Lessons, Sedlescombe and Rye

Artist Mark Fisher offers weekly classes and workshops, either held in his studio or outside in Rye Nature Reserve, local woodland, or gardens.

01424 871605; markfisherart.co.uk

Coastal Culture Trail

Walk or cycle to some of Sussex’s best art galleries in one day, including the Jerwood in Hastings, the Towner in Eastbourne and the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.


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