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The Best Contemporary Art Galleries in Brighton

Brighton Beach | © PROGeoff Penaluna/Flickr
Picture of Charlotte Chorley
Updated: 8 June 2017
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Kitsch, classic and overwhelmingly kooky, Brighton is England’s favourite seaside town. Famous for its flamboyant creativity and extensive street art, this cosmopolitan city on the South Coast is a treasure trove for art lovers, with exciting street festivals, cultural events and compelling exhibitions hosted throughout the year. Our eclectic mix of the top ten contemporary art galleries in Brighton showcases the best of local creativity.

IO Gallery

If diversity is what you are after, then IO Gallery is the place to go. A gorgeous little gallery in the bosom of Brighton’s bustling North Laine, this gallery represents over 100 artists at any given time. Run by artists for artists, it has a relaxed and friendly vibe, while its ethos of supporting locally produced work and its wide spectrum of artistic mediums and forms mean that visiting IO is always a different experience. Exhibiting everything from glassworks to ceramics to jewellery and paintings, this ecologically friendly space has something to offer for everyone.

Courtesy of io Gallery

Bellis

A little bit more expensive than other galleries in Brighton, Bellis is a beautiful seafront shop and gallery that specialises in local art. Tucked away by the pebbled beach, Bellis exhibits over 20 local artists’ works, with permanent exhibitions of Ulrika Jarl‘s bone china pieces influenced by natural forms and structures; Harriet Butler’s unique and funky sketches; gorgeous gold-and-white ink drawings by Angie Meaden-Bonnel; and Miranda Swift’s kiln-formed glass pieces. Ponder the artworks in the nautical-inspired shop space and, although the prices are higher than elsewhere, visitors can get their hands on some really unique and beautiful things, and rest assured in the knowledge that they are supporting Brighton’s artistic communities.

ONCA Gallery

Typical of Brighton’s progressive and left-wing mindset, the ONCA Gallery – which stands for the One Network for Conservation and the Arts – is a self-defining left-leaning art gallery. For those who love to contemplate paintings and installations, this gallery always has something provocative on display, often hosting exhibitions focused on activist and political themes. Past exhibitions have included a pop-up exhibition called Down to the Bone which raised awareness of the plight of street dogs in Spain and Portugal. More recent was the collaborative exhibition Our Time in Ice which featured over 40 artists, writers and explorers, who documented the Arctic ice melt. Beautiful and engaging, ONCA is much more than just an art gallery.

Interior of ONCA

Sallis Benney Theatre

Perfectly situated only a few minutes away from the seafront, the Sallis Benney Theatre and Gallery is as diverse and exciting as the Brighton students who display their work there. The gallery displays student coursework exhibitions throughout the year, with the culmination being the increasingly popular annual Graduate Degree Shows which take place annually in May and June. But, aside from high-quality student exhibitions, the gallery also often provides retrospectives of famous artists connected to Brighton; in the past, these have included the works of William Kentridge, Bernard Schottlander and Max Gill. Open Monday until Saturday during exhibitions, the Sallis Benney Theatre and University of Brighton Gallery houses a show-stopping array of contemporary art, design, illustration and fashion.

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery

The Brighton Pavilion, famous for its gorgeous architecture and voluptuous royal interior, is worthy of a mention in this collection of Brighton’s artistic excellence. But, located right next to this beautiful palace is a little-known secret haven of art, design and history. Set in the heart of the city’s cultural quarter, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery is a free public museum and art gallery, exhibiting everything from 20th century decorative art, to upcoming fresh local talent. Its rich collections are always dynamic and stimulating, and present a mix of well-known and local artists. Showcasing more typically ‘classic’ artworks than other Brighton galleries, the Brighton Museum is a great stop for those interested in history and extravagance.

Two Kats & A Cow

After finishing an ice cream on the pier, make sure you pay a visit to this open studio and gallery situated right on the Brighton seafront. A little archway exhibition space filled with oil paintings, contemporary ceramics, jewellery and stunning screen prints by Artizan Editions. Two Kats & A Cow is a personal and intimate gallery owned by local artists John Marshall, Katty McMurray and Kathryn Matthews. Although Marshall’s artwork is dominated by cows, the gallery itself offers an array of evocative and beautiful seaside paintings. If you’re interested in visiting this exhibition space, it’s only open weekends throughout the year with extra dates over the summer.

Photo Courtesy of Two Kats and a Cow

Phoenix Gallery

Proud of its status as ‘the largest artist-led arts organisation in the South East of England’, the Phoenix Gallery is the exhibition space for the Phoenix Arts Association, a charitable arts organisation providing studio space for and run by artists. Featuring both international and local art, this gallery is an electric hub of talent and exploration with experimental exhibitions and stimulating artworks; this reputation for pushing boundaries is the reason it has become the venue for large-scale exhibitions such as the Brighton Photo Fringe and The White Nights installations. Open Tuesday until Saturday during exhibitions and a stone’s throw away from the nearest bus station, make time for a visit to this kooky gallery.

artrepublic

If a Banksy, Hirst and Blake are what you’ve always dreamed of having on your wall, then artrepublic can certainly help out. This chain gallery is one of the best-stocked commercial galleries in the South East, and although it’s easy to walk past this unimposing, modern space as your traverse the vibrant mixture of shops in Brighton’s North Laine, artrepublic is a gem of an art gallery. Alongside classic artists like Andy Warhol and Edward Hopper, artrepublic stocks a huge range of local and international urban artists including D*Face, Shephard Fairey, Dan Baldwin, Imbue, Static and Bonnie and Clyde. For those with a limited budget, Artrepublic are part of the Own Art scheme which allows buyers to make monthly payments over an agreed period of time.

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