A lot of us would gladly spend all day frolicking on the beach. But if you fancy mixing sandcastles and chip butties with a bit of art and culture, England has a hip and happening collection of seaside towns that offer more than the occasional sand sculpture or flower bed display. Here are a few to get you started…
Gleaming on Rock-A-Nore Road among Hastings Old Town’s wooden fishing huts is the newest edition to the seaside art scene. Jerwood Gallery opened on 17 March and is now the permanent home for the Jerwood Collection, which includes around two hundred British oil paintings and works on paper by the likes of L.S Lowry, Sir Stanley Spencer and Walter Sickert along with contemporary artists like Maggi Hambling and Prunella Clough. The art continues outside, as the gallery itself is coated in over 8,000 hand-glazed ceramic tiles that reflect the light and constant movement of this historic seaside resort.
Just a little further along the east Sussex coast is the De La Warr Pavilion, another contemporary art gallery within 1066 Country. Oozing modernist elegance with its curved balconies and swish spiral staircases, De La Warr makes the most of its grade one-listed assets – both inside and out. It’s had Antony Gormley’s life-sized human sculptures resting all over its roof, Andy Warhol screaming from its walls, and this year as part of the London 2012 Festival, will see famous sculptor-cum-illusionist Richard Wilson recreate an iconic scene from The Italian Job by dangling a bus off the gallery’s rooftop.
Crossing the border into Kent, you’ll find creativity splattered all along the coast, from the bohemian haven of Whitstable to Folkestone’s Creative Quarter. But the gallery that’s kicking up a storm the Romantics would be most proud of is the Turner Contemporary, slap-bang on Margate’s seafront. With over 300,000 visitors in its first seven months, the gallery has added a new perspective to the world-famous Rodin’s The Kiss sculpture and has revoling collection of JMW Turner’s works that sit along contemporary exhibitions. What’s more, as part of the London 2012 Festival, it will put on a major free exhibition by Tracy Emin, one of England’s most famous female artists and a Margate local.
Other arty hotspots along the coast
The Creative Quarter in Folkestone - A compact mesh of studios, galleries and independent shops on Kent’s east coast.
St Ives in Cornwall - The mother of the coastal art movement, it’s home to the iconic Tate St Ives which is a great place to keep the kids busy.
Saffron Art Gallery in Battle - Another established gallery in 1066 Country. This year sees the gallery host a collection of Olympic athlete body sculptures by Louise Giblin.
Crosby Beach in Sefton - A permanent installation by Antony Gormley sees life-sized human figures embedded in the sand and gazing out to sea.
Where would you like the next gallery-on-sea to be?
Blogger: Katie Rowe, Copywriter
London born. Hooked on grand architecture, the Kent coast, music festivals, flea markets, macaroons, roaming the V&A and cats.