World Art Day is celebrated around the globe on Monday 15 April, the birthday of artist Leonardo da Vinci. Art encourages expression, creativity, diversity and innovation. To mark World Art Day in East Sussex, here’s a roundup of some of our favourite local galleries, art projects and festivals. Why not head out and see where art takes you today?

Towner Eastbourne

Towner Eastbourne has been collecting and exhibiting contemporary art for 100 years. The Towner Art Gallery was founded in 1923 with 20 Victorian narrative paintings. The Collection now numbers over 5,000 works with a focus on modern British art. It also has the largest collection of works by Eric Ravilious.

The gallery holds regular family days, as well as behind the scenes Art Store Tours.

The award-winning gallery opened in April 2009. It’s the largest purpose-built gallery in the South East.

Towner is closed until early May to allow for the installation of new exhibitions following its hosting of the 2023 Turner Prize.


Charleston is the modernist home and studio of the painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. The house at Firle, near Lewes, also hosted the Bloomsbury Group, who were some of the 20th century’s most radical artists, writers and thinkers.

Nowadays, Charleston presents a programme of exhibitions, festivals and events at Firle and at a new cultural space, Charleston in Lewes.

Sussex Art Shuttle

This hop on, hop off bus runs between Towner Eastbourne, Charleston in Firle, Seven Sisters Country Park and Charleston in Lewes.

The art shuttle connects these major Sussex arts venues via a spectacular route that takes in the iconic Seven Sisters cliffs, the Cuckmere Valley and the picturesque villages of Alfriston and Litlington.

The services runs four times a day on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the spring and summer, until Sunday 27 October inclusive. The service will also run on bank holidays.

Hastings Contemporary

Located on Hastings seafront, Hastings Contemporary exhibits world-class modern and contemporary art.

Current exhibitions include A Hundred Portraits by Quentin Blake, and The Sea and Me, part of the gallery’s flagship schools programme, Pearls of the Sea.

Family Days take place on Thursdays during school holidays with a drop-in creative activity, as well as self-guided activities throughout the gallery. The gallery also holds a regular after-school art club.

Rye Art Gallery

Just along the coast is the charming Cinque Port Town of Rye. The Rye Art Gallery is housed in a Grade 2 listed historic building. The gallery showcases examples from its permanent collection of around 700 works of art as well as changing displays of contemporary art.


Artwave is the annual festival of artists and makers from Lewes, Seaford, Newhaven and the surrounding villages.

The event takes place this year from 7 to 22 September. Artwave gives art lovers the chance to discover new work, meet artists and makers, and buy directly from them.

Local artists and makers of all ages are being invited to register for this year’s festival. Visit the Artwave website for more details.

South East Open Studios

South East Open Studios takes place during June. The event showcases creative talent and the visual arts across the south east, including in East Sussex.

Visitors can tour and explore participating studio spaces such as customised sheds, beachside galleries and beautiful purpose-built studios. Work by artists and makers practising a range of disciplines from painting and pottery to sculpture and textile art will be on display.

Eastbourne ALIVE

To celebrate the centenary of Towner Eastbourne and running alongside the gallery’s hosting of this year’s Turner Prize, the Eastbourne ALIVE project is bringing art to the town’s streets and buildings.

Exhibitions, performances and workshops are taking place in and around Eastbourne over the coming months, including dance performances, pottery workshops, and art trails.

You can read more about the public artwork on display in our Eastbourne ALIVE article.

Project Art Works

Project Art Works is a collective of neurodiverse artists and activists based in Hastings. The project’s studios provide the conditions for a broad range of autonomous and collaborative practices with neurodivergent artists, who take part on their own terms.

Members of the Collective regularly stage exhibitions locally, nationally and internationally.

Crypt Gallery

The Crypt Gallery in Seaford is the home of Sussex Contemporary Illustrators & Printmakers.

Work by national, international and local artists and makers is on display all year round in the Flint Gallery. Lit Fest 24, a celebration of words, art and music is being hosted by the gallery until Sunday, 21 April.

The gallery building also contains a medieval undercroft, which is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Seaford. The undercroft can be accessed free of charge by visiting the Crypt Gallery any time it’s open for an exhibition.

Farleys House & Gallery

Hidden away near Chiddingly, Farleys was the home of Surrealist photographer Lee Miller and Surrealist painter Roland Penrose, two of the key personalities in 20th century art.

Miller and Penrose filled the house with contemporary art works and regularly hosted leading figures from the world of 20th century modern art including Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, May Ray and William Turnbull.

Visitors can tour the house (pre-booked tours only), or visit the two onsite galleries and stroll around the Sculpture Garden.

De Le Warr Pavilion

Situated on the seafront in Bexhill and boasting stunning sea views, the De Le Warr Pavilion encompasses one of the largest galleries on the south coast of England.

Exhibitions of contemporary art are regularly staged at the arts centre. Free drop-in creative workshops, Art Sundays, are held on the first and third Sunday of every month. Open to all ages, the workshops are led by an artist taking inspiration from the exhibitions programme.

Let us know about any local art haunts we’ve missed by posting in the comments section below. We’d love to hear about your favourites.


Photography: Thomas Broadhead; the Sussex Art Shuttle at Charleston, File