Art show celebrates Sussex by the Sea

Sussex by the Sea offers an exhibition of paintings of Hastings, Hope Gap, Newhaven and Brighton – all at Lewes’s Star Brewery Gallery.
Tom Benjamin  © 2020 Mauro ArenaTom Benjamin  © 2020 Mauro Arena
Tom Benjamin © 2020 Mauro Arena

It runs from November 4-19, Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-4pm; Sunday, 12 noon-4pm; closed Monday, featuring the work of Tom Benjamin.

Tom, who grew up in Plumpton and went to school at Lewes Priory, has lived in Lewes for the past 30 years.

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“I am a landscape painter and my paintings are made outside in front of the subject. Painting in situ often on a large scale is tricky at times. The canvas can act like a big sail and blow over and the weather and light are constantly changing. I often travel to my locations by bicycle with all my kit in a trailer rattling along behind me.

“I paint in locations across the UK and in France and Italy but this exhibition is focusing on subjects closer to home which I am constantly drawn back to. Of the four locations featured in the show one is new to me. My oldest daughter moved to Hastings a few years ago and when visting I have become increasingly drawn to the boats and machinery on the beach. In particular, I have focused on the bulldozers of which there are many, some fairly well cared for and some which are rusting away. I love the way people improvise, with plywood put over the windows and traffic cones and gloves covering up the exhaust pipes.

“Of all my painting locations Hope Gap is one of the most special to me. I’m drawn to the play of light over the extraordinary rocks – a kind of natural concrete – that litter the beach, the cliffs and the endless complexity of the rock pools and breaking waves.

“The west quay at Newhaven is another location I’ve been making paintings of for a long time – about 30 years! It’s not just the fishing boats and sea and the wet mud but the way each of these forms is broken up and divided by the wooden and metal jetties to make something abstract.

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"Brighton’s North Laine area is full of colour and invention and feels almost like being in a festival. In addition, the low light-coloured buildings reflect the sea light and bounce off all the colours.”