Cultural Destinations: Brighton 

Brighton’s Victorian pier, Royal Pavilion and the Laines with its eclectic mix of independent shops and art galleries make it a covetable destination for those seeking some sea air and a dose of culture.

Culturalee stayed at Drakes Hotel, a beautiful boutique hotel set in a pair of Regency townhouses on Marine Parade, overlooking the iconic Brighton Pier and a short walk from Soho House, the Lanes, the Royal Pavilion and Kemptown Races. Seafront-facing rooms with free-standing bath tubs and natural Green & Spring products mean you can enjoy a soak in the tub looking out onto the beach whilst listening to the sound of the sea.

Playful artworks featuring lego characters in Brighton landscapes by artist Alberto Martinez are exhibited in the cocktail bar, and downstairs at Drakes is  Dilsk, a Michelin recommended restaurant centred on sustainability, using ingredients sourced from ethical growers and local producers in and around East Sussex.  The front of house staff are super helpful and the cooked breakfast is delicious.

Image courtesy Drakes Hotel Brighton

Brighton has long been a magnet for artists, writers and culture vultures. Culturalee visited Brighton and selected some of the most exciting art galleries and cultural highlights. 

Paxton+Glew  is an independent art gallery situated in Hanningtons Lane opposite an iconic circus-themed mural. Paxton+Glew are curatorial duo Emily Paxton and Pam Glew: Emily Paxton is a photographer, educator and creative and Pam Glew is an international textile artist. They showcase British and European artists with a focus on collectable art from artists who push the boundaries and offer something unique. The current exhibition ‘Blooming Marvellous’ features artists responding to the theme of the emergence of Spring, botanics and nature. Paxton+Glew recently welcomed Lou Taylor to the gallery with her vibrant prints and collages, and other highlights include; Sophie Abbotts’s plein air paintings, colourful bird paintings by Heidi Landridge, Liz Pounsett’s original collages, landscapes by Tiffany Lynch, the saturated colours of Richard Heeps’ photography, and new paintings by gallery co-founder Pam Glew. 

Artwork by Pam Glew at Paxton+Glew. Photography by Lee Sharrock

Enter Gallery in the North Laines is a welcoming space exhibiting prints and originals by some of the most interesting contemporary and modern artists including Culturalee favourites Sara Pope, Lauren Baker, The Connor Brothers, Pure Evil, Cassandra Yap, Peter Blake, Slim Aarons, Lucy Sparrow, Maxim and RYCA. The ethos of Enter gallery is ‘art for all’, and they embrace an atmosphere of inclusivity and rejection of ‘art elitism’ by mixing up eras and styles, from street art to photographer to pop art. Enter Gallery recently hosted a sell-out exhibition of collaborative artworks created by Vintage Shuffle and Brighton-resident hero Fatboy Slim, and the current exhibition ‘Botanical Scapes’ features a new collection of fungi-inspired collages by Jana Nicole, which explore the mystical world of mushrooms, moss and mycelium. 

Jana Nicole exhibition at Enter Gallery. Photography by Culturalee.

Hidden Gallery is a little gem of a gallery located in the North Laine and exhibiting originals and prints by modern and contemporary artists such as Warhol, Matisse, Grayson Perry, Chagall, Tracey Emin and Banksy.  Hidden Gallery also has locations in London, Bristol and Bath. 

The art on display at Labyrinth Gallery on Market Street has a distinctly Rock n’Roll vibe, including images of George Michael, David Bowie, Debbie Harry and other music legends by iconic photographers such as Duffy, and contemporary artists including local pop artist TBOY. 

Labryinth Gallery. Photography by Culturalee.

Away from the Laines it’s well worth visiting the Royal Pavilion and Garden, which was originally built as the seaside pleasure palace of King George IV. King George hired architect Henry Holland to transform his Brighton lodging house into a modest villa which became known as the Marine Pavilion. In 1815, he commissioned John Nash to transform the villa into an oriental palace. A highlight of the art on display at the Royal Pavilion is John Constable’s ‘Colliers Unloading on Hove Beach’. The painting was rediscovered in 2017 and is a significant addition to the body of Constable’s work. 

Not far from the Royal Pavilion is Fabrica, a community arts space with a programme of talks, film screenings, exhibitions and creative workshops. The In Between Gallery is an exhibition space for contemporary photography in Fabrica’s window exhibiting work from 2 artists each year including an artist selected via an Open Call which is advertised annually in October. Christian Jago’s ‘Spring’ from his project “Ephemeral Bloom” is exhibited until 21st April, 2024.  Also offering creative workshops The much anticipated, and highly successful Paint and Sip experience fresh out of Australia and New Zealand has landed in the UK. We’re looking for PASSIONATE and INSPIRED people to bring a Pinot & Picasso studio to their community and create GREAT TIMES through CREATIVITY.

Art lovers who also enjoy a glass of wine might like Pinot + Picasso workshops offering a ‘paint and sip’ experience with a concept imported from Australia and New Zealand.

A visit to Brighton wouldn’t be complete without a walk along the extensive seafront, with traditional seaside activities including the fun fair on Brighton Pier and Carousel on the beach. There are also some interesting little galleries along the seafront including the Brighton Fishing museum Brighton Fishing Museum which traces the journey of Brighton from a bustling little fishing village on the south coast to a fashionable seaside resort popular during Regency England, to its present day incarnation as ‘London-by-the-sea’.

Atelier Beside the Sea Atelier Brighton is an art gallery, shop and makers workshop on the beach offering a platform for more than 160 local artists and makers including printmakers, jewellers, painters, ceramicists, wood-workers, publishers, knitwear and textile artists, as well workshops and classes. On display until 19th May is ‘The Riso Show’, an exhibition of environmentally friendly stencil printing which was popular in the 1970s. 

Culturalee’s favourite place for breakfast or lunch on the beach is a low-key beach cafe next to fishing museum in Kings Road Arches, where you can sip a fresh juice or coffee whilst sitting in a deckchair looking out onto the pebble beach and rippling waves, or eat freshly battered fish and chips. It’s so low-key there isn’t a website, but you will find it next to a sign saying ‘Brighton Smoke House’.  

For dinner by the beach check out Riddle and Finns, a champagne and oyster bar with an extensive menu of sustainably sourced fish dishes, fruits de mer, and a daily specials board with local catch of the day. The original Riddle & Finns opened on the Laines in 2006, but if you can’t get a table there try the beautiful Rotunda restaurant on the beach. Or for a more laid-back American-diner style experience with great retro music, check out Kenny’s Rock and Soul Cafe in the North Laine Kenny’s Rock and Soul Cafe . Feast on reasonably priced burgers, fries, breakfasts and Shakes and feast your eyes on the awesome mural covering the walls featuring iconic music legends Prince, Joplin, Hendrix and more. 

Brighton is a great place for a bit of retail therapy, with plenty of boutiques, antiques and vintage shops. Some Culturalee favourites include The Modfather (think ‘Brighton Rock’ meets Mods n’ Rockers), Sophie Darling (for exquisite handmade clothes and scarves), Rebound Store for preloved designer clothes, and Snoopers Attic for rare vintage finds.

Drake’s Hotel. Photography by Culturalee.

With thanks to Drakes Hotel

Photography by Culturalee.

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