I began this search because, for a number of reasons, travel to the major galleries is not an easy option. My semi-rural location, the state of public transport, a few physical inconveniences that don’t bother me at all unless they collide, and choosing not to drive in reduced visibility (dusk to dawn, or lousy weather conditions).
Luckily, I live in an area that has art at its core. One look at that Pavilion on Grand Parade and you realise you’re in a town that really doesn’t know how to sit down and shut up. Built by the maverick Prince Regent who eventually became George IV, nothing in it is what it seems. Marble turns out to be bamboo, bamboo is marble, and in the banqueting room, there be dragons.
Brighton never looked back and by the time I arrived in the late 1960s, it was one of the few pockets of psychedelia to have established itself as a cultural norm. Along with the Theatre Royal which often put on pre-West End shows, the plethora of college and university students said to outnumber the actual residents by 3:1 during term time, and the summer influx of French and Swedish visitors, Brighton was a nexus of cultural difference that exploded with colour and sound. And, better than London which only really had Carnaby Street and the King’s Road, we had the sea. And what a sea! All the ones I knew in Yorkshire and Lancashire were cold, distant, and often brown because of the sand they churned up. They took a long time to retreat and return, and they were low and flat. The one in Brighton, though, was dazzling and ever-present; it never went far, and it seemed to be higher than all the buildings, even the ones at the top of the steep hills that drop like ski slopes to the promenade. You could spend forever looking at that sea.
It shouldn’t be any surprise then to find there are galleries and studios dotted around all over the town (city, actually, since it persuaded Hove [actually*] to link arms in pursuit of that status); and latterly Worthing, a little way along to the west, has begun to do the same. I found around fifty, all within relatively easy reach both from where I live and also from each other.
The painting I’ve picked to illustrate this post is from the Art5 gallery and shop. It attracted me because I think I know that street and also because it seems to me to have a touch of the Raoul Dufys about it whose approach to colour snapped my head around way back then even among all the rest of the kaleidoscopic imagery. As is my practice till I know better, I’ve taken a screen clip that includes its sale price and purchase details on the assumption that this is unlikely to be a breach of copyright. My goal now is to make visits to all of these galleries, most likely also to the surrounding cafes, and with great certainty to the seafront.
*Hove is the ‘posh’ end of Brighton and sees itself as rather more sophisticated and reserved – the adult uncomfortably parked next to a rumbustious teenager. Consequently, residents asked if they lived in Brighton, often say, somewhat testily, ‘We’re in Hove, actually’, so ‘Hove actually’ became, and still is, a thing.