My parents moved to Chichester after they’d both retired a couple of decades ago. It’s never struck me as a particularly exciting town. My father died in 2015 and my mother died two years ago this coming Saturday, so I don’t tend to visit these days.
I walked from the train station through the town centre to the churchyard of St Paul’s, where my parents’ ashes are interred. It was, admittedly, a downbeat start to a grand day out, but needs must with the biennial of my mother’s death hovering over this week.
I’d never visited the gallery before, not really expecting anything exciting in a small West Sussex market town (well, market city under the old way of deciding city status), but I must admit that I was very wrong in my low expectations.
The exhibition is really very good indeed, starting from William Blake’s work during his three year’s living in the Sussex village of Felpham, through Turner and Constable, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Graham Sutherland,Paul Nash, John Piper, Roland Penrose, Lee Miller, Eric Ravilious, Ivon Hitchens, Bill Brandt, Andy Goldsworthy, and many others.
There is something about the Sussex landscape — the chalk and flint bones of the Downs that are visible all too closely to, sometimes bursting through, the grassy surface — that is so visually inspiring, even for a non-landscape artist like myself. I think, somehow, this exhibition has managed to capture that special nature.
Potential visitors should be aware (or perhaps just beware) of the gallery shop, which holds a collection of art books and exhibition catalogues just as impressive and wide-ranging as the artwork on display, from which I ended up buying more than one book before I left to head back eastwards and across the border to East Sussex.
Getting there with Public Transport
7 minutes walk from Chichester train station.
Exhibition details: Sussex Landscape: Chalk, Wood and Water
The first major exhibition to celebrate Sussex as a place of inspiration for artists.
Sussex has a unique sense of place. Its distinctive chalk-cliff coastline and the rolling hills of the South Downs have inspired artists for centuries. From some of our greatest landscape artists like Constable and Turner to contemporary artists working in the area today, this exhibition lets you discover Sussex as a place of creativity, exploration, retreat and alternative lifestyles.
Whether it’s William Nicholson’s beautiful, sparse paintings of the Downs, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell’s colour-drenched depictions of the pond at Charleston, or Lee Miller’s photographs of the farms around her house, this wide-ranging exhibition, which encompasses print, sculpture, photography and digital works, will show you Sussex as you have never seen it before.
Pallant House Gallery
8-9 North Pallant, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1TJ