Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion Exhibition


Two Temple Place, London

28th January – 23rd April, 2017.


Dr Hope Wolf from the School of English at the University of Sussex curated this free exhibition on Sussex Modernism at Two Temple Place, London. It brought together works from regional museums and galleries including: Charleston, De La Warr Pavilion, Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Farleys House & Gallery, Jerwood Gallery, Pallant House Gallery, Royal Pavilion & Museums Brighton & Hove, Towner Art Gallery, West Dean College, Bexhill Museum, and The Keep.

Sussex and Modernism would seem an odd couple, with London and Modernism making a more obvious match. Why did so many modernist artists, writers, photographers, architects and filmmakers come to this rural and coastal region in the early and mid-twentieth century? Some modernists idealised rural Sussex, seeking an escape from the pressures of the city; others sought refuge from scandal; some were driven there by war. Many created enclaves in which to live and work, bringing with them friends and influences from nearby London and Europe. Some were émigrés or refugees, and the Sussex coast became a place to think about connections to the continent. The exhibition explores all of these points, examining works by artists working in different media and associated with different styles. These include: Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Eric Gill, David Jones, Edward James, Peggy Angus, Eric Ravilious, John Piper, Serge Chermayeff, László Moholy-Nagy, Hans Feibusch, Lee Miller, Roland Penrose, Edith Rimmington, Edward Burra and John Banting. Despite their evident differences, there is much to be gained from examining both the biographical and conceptual links between these makers and their works. Many knew one another, and, whether working with paint, stone, sound or words, their work expresses the realities of living in unsettled and uncertain times.

Please see this link for further information about the venue and opening times:

You can also learn more about the exhibition here:

Reviews of Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion

The Times



Studio International 

Talks related to the exhibition have been given at Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft and Pallant House Gallery, Chichester. Forthcoming talks will be at:

West Dean House on 1st March

Jerwood Gallery, Hastings on 25th March

If you want to find out more about Sussex Modernism please contact Hope at

Banner Image Copyright: Edward James/Salvador Dali, Mae West lips sofa, 1938, Image courtesy of Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Main Image Copyright: Saul Steinberg adding the finishing touches to the Long Man of Wilmington, East Sussex, England 1952 by Lee Miller (FF0280) © Lee Miller Archives England 2016. All Rights Reserved.