Sussex at London Art Fair 2024

London Art Fair 2024 carries the sweet scents of the South Downs and the Sussex seaside as England’s most culturally sophisticated region makes its presence ever more known in the British art world.

Duncan Grant, Farm Buildings at Charleston c1950, courtesy Charleston Farmhouse

Visitors will get a Sussex hit as soon as they walk in the doors. Every year since 2014 the organisers have selected a ‘Museum Partner’ to showcase work from the collection of an outside-London gallery, at a prominent stand near the entrance. This year the honour has been given to Charleston, once the country home of the Bloomsbury set, now a thriving art complex boasting four galleries, two on the original estate near Firle, and, since summer 2023, two in Southover House in Lewes. The partnership with London Art Fair sees the launch of the ’50 for 50’ campaign to celebrate Charleston Trust’s forthcoming 50th anniversary. Expect work by Duncan Grant, and Vanessa Bell, of course. We’re also hoping there might be a Patricia Preece or two, as a taster for the big spring show at Charleston Lewes.

It is telling that in those ten years since 2014 no fewer than four Sussex galleries have been chosen for this ‘partnership’ honour, the others being Pallant House in 2015, the Jerwood Gallery (now Hastings Contemporary) in 2017 and Towner Eastbourne in 2019. (It is Towner, of course, which currently hosts the 2023 Turner Prize, another sign of the high esteem in which the Sussex art world is currently being held).

Fred Coppin, Shade Bathing 2023, courtesy Candida Stevens

As ever, of course, Sussex is amply represented by private galleries and gallerists at the Fair. Candida Stevens will be showcasing work from the well-established stable of contemporary artists she represents from her space in central Chichester, such as Olivia Stanton, Celia Cook and Fred Coppin. The latter is creating a lot of art-world interest, a Millennial oil painter who rejoices in a bright digital-era palette.

Andy Lo Po, courtesy Crane Kalman Brighton

Crane Kalman Brighton provides a platform for contemporary photographers, including Sussex-based Andy Lo Po. Lo Po, originally from Melbourne, Australia, has made Brighton & Hove his home: his project Into the Sky portrays locals jumping from a height into the sea, on the hottest day of 2023, a high-spirited counterpoint, perhaps, to Richard Drew’s Falling Man series. 

Hidden Gallery, specialising in signed prints by Modernist greats, run a space in North Laine, Brighton (as well as outlets in London, Bath and Bristol). They also feature emerging contemporary artists, particularly of an ‘urban’ bent, so expect and eclectic mix, from Picasso… to Banksy.

Senzeni Marasela, Last Known Location, 2023, courtesy Koop Projects

KOOP Projects, also based in Brighton, is a ‘neighbourhood gallery with an international outlook’ specialising in the promotion of contemporary African artists, and will be showing Senzeni Marasela, Arabel Lebrusan and Peter Mammes and Georgina Maxim. Marasela’s textile compositions are selected from Last Known Location, a series of 120 ‘domestic’ cloths, nimbly decorated with red-thread line drawings representing points on the topographical map of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Rakibul Chowdury, Ophelia, 2017, courtesy Outside In

Special mention must go to Outside In, an organisation which provides a platform for artists who encounter significant barriers to the art world due to health, disability, social circumstance or isolation. Outside In is now a national organisation with three regional hubs, having been set up in 2006 at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. Artists on show include Manuel Bonifacio, Victoria Bowman, Rakibul Chowdhury and Chaz Waldren. One Chowdhury piece, representing long-limbed, bling-encrusted celebs gawping down at Ophelia lying in her watery grave, lives long in the memory.

Inspired by London Art Fair’s partnership with Charleston – increasingly seen as being a beacon for Queer art – guest curator Gemma Rolls-Bentley has dedicated the 2024 Platform section of the Fair to reflect ‘the resilience, the beauty and the passion of Queer love and life’. Participating galleries include BWG Gallery, Guts Gallery, Gerrish Fine Art, Liminal Gallery, Janet Rady Fine Art, QUEERCIRCLE, Soho Revue and TIN MAN ART.

Raymond Gibb, Zig-zag 2023, courtesy Catto Gallery

Several Sussex-based gallerists at the Fair run their businesses from London; these include Julian Page, and Iain Barrett and Imogen Green, who together run Catto Gallery in Hampstead. The latter gallery will offer a sea view: Brighton Art College graduate Ramsay Gibb paints photorealistic seascapes you can practically hear crashing onto the shingle.

William Nicholson, Pansies and Other Flowers, c1926, courtesy Browse & Darby

Wandering through the Fair will offer Sussex-art aficionados the usual chance to view works from artists, alive and dead, who are connected with the south-coast county. These include, to name but a few, John Craxton at Osborne Samuel, Eric Gill and David Jones at Architectural Heritage, William Gear at Redfern Gallery, Duncan Grant at Piano Nobile, Ivon Hitchens at Alan Wheatley and Jonathan Clarke, Emily Kirby at Columbia Road Gallery, Kate Montgomery at Long & Ryle, William Nicholson at Browse & Darby, and Grayson Perry at Raw

Kate Montgomery, Swans and Blossoms 2023, courtesy Long & Ryle Gallery

You will, of course, recognise most of the illustrious names of Modernist artists cited in the last paragraph. But, it must be stressed, Sussex is a thriving centre for contemporary artists, both emerging and established. One name you might be forgiven for not recognising is Emily Kirby, a painter of Zambian origin based in Brighton, with a similar palette and style to Peter Doig: definitely a name to look out for.  

Good old Sussex by the sea takes a weekend trip to Islington, then? It is for good reason that ROSA Magazine (Review of Sussex Arts) has partnered up with London Art Fair 2024, as we did in 2023. We are launching a new Sussex art map drawn by artist Helen Cann and showing off the Winter Issue (#7) of our sumptuous quarterly print magazine, plus offering subscriptions and partnerships, and other information about our print and digital coverage of the ever-more-vibrant Sussex art scene. What’s more, ROSA readers, whether from Sussex or beyond, are offered 20% discount on tickets to the Fair. See you there!