The picturesque landscapes of East and West Sussex have long been a muse for artists seeking to capture the essence of its rolling hills, serene valleys, and alluring villages. In recent years, a new artistic pairing has taken root in this idyllic English countryside. Sussex Modern was the brainchild of a local consortium that includes the Towner Gallery, which will host the Turner Prize this Autumn, Charleston country home of the Bloomsbury Group and Hasting’s Contemporary, an innovative gallery with an international reputation. This vibrant art scene celebrates the region’s beauty and intertwines with another facet of Sussex’s allure – its burgeoning wine industry. The marriage of Sussex Modern and local wine tourism unites East and West Sussex and presents a unique and compelling narrative highlighting the symbiotic relationship between art, nature, and culture.
Sussex Modern is more than just a local phenomenon; it reflects the region’s evolving identity, drawing inspiration from the surrounding landscapes, artists and galleries. Visitors to the area are presented with a contemporary style that reinterprets traditional techniques through a modern lens. The unique fine arts and crafts of the area are celebrated with international quality exhibitions, music and theatre.
On this trip, I visited three of the leading vineyards in Sussex, Tinwood, Ashling Park and Wiston. All offer packages which include food and wine-tasting opportunities. We savoured some of the best sparkling wines and also a notable Rose at Wiston.
Beyond its artistic allure, Sussex is making its mark on the world of wine. The region’s chalky soils and temperate climate have proven ideal for grape cultivation, giving rise to a flourishing wine industry. Vineyards and wineries dot the landscape, producing a variety of award-winning sparkling and still wines that have earned international acclaim.
Local wine tourism has flourished as enthusiasts and curious travellers embark on tasting journeys through the vineyards of Sussex. The experience transcends mere wine appreciation, offering visitors a chance to savour the land’s essence, the vintners’ labour, and the stories woven into each vintage.
The convergence of Sussex art and local wine tourism is a natural evolution, mirroring the synergy between nature and culture. Like artists capture the nuances of the region’s landscapes on canvas, winemakers bottle the terroir, preserving the essence of Sussex’s soil and climate in every sip. The two creative realms intertwine, inviting visitors to engage in a holistic and immersive experience with art and wine.
Art galleries have recognised this affinity and increasingly incorporate wine-tasting events and local wineries collaborations into their programming. These events offer a multi-sensory encounter where attendees can engage with the visual arts while indulging in the flavours of the land, creating a memorable and enriching experience.
As Sussex Modern continues to evolve and the region’s wine industry gains international recognition, the synergy between the two becomes more pronounced. Sussex has become a canvas where nature, art, and culture merge, inviting locals and visitors to partake in a sensory journey that celebrates the very essence of the region.
A visit to West Dean House was always going to be a high point; located in one of the finest examples of Georgian Gothic architecture and home to West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, established by Surrealist patron and poet Edward James. On the grounds of this estate, workshops of vernacular applied arts continue the tradition of English handcrafts.
Forty-three galleries, museums, arts venues, winemakers and cultural partners are involved with ‘Sussex Modern’. Pallant House Gallery is currently mounting a significant exhibition, Gwen John: Art and Life, in London and Paris, re-examining the ground-breaking British artist’s work alongside her fellow international modernists, including James McNeill Whistler and Auguste Rodin. While Newland House Gallery’s flagship summer exhibition, To Know about Women: The Photography of Eve Arnold – is the UK’s first major retrospective of Arnold in ten years. We stayed overnight at The Angel Inn in Petworth, a boutique-style pub, enjoying a night out at the Chichester Festival’s revival of the Sound Of Music.
As you wander through the countryside, immerse yourself in a landscape that has inspired generations of artists. You’ll find the connection between Contemporary Art paired with local wine is an authentic reflection of this exciting region with a seamless fusion of artistic expression and the land that inspires it.
To Know about Women: The Photography of Eve Arnold exhibition at Newlands House Gallery: Read Review
Gwen John: Art and Life in London and Paris exhibition at Pallant House Gallery: Read Review
Words/Top Photo PCR © Artlyst 2023
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Wine Partnerships Include: