LOCATION: Hastings, United Kingdon
NEAREST AIRPORTS: Gatwick Airport, 1hrs 30 by train


Brace the fresh sea air and rugged cliff faces lining Hastings promenade, along the beach to find the Jerwood Gallery, a real art gem that makes the town well worth a visit any time of year. Not without charm, especially in the summer when the small funfair is in full swing, Hastings has been hit by a lack of tourism. Look beyond the closed store fronts and decaying 50’s seaside to the Palladian grandeur and black double height sheds erected to dry fishing nets that are unique to Hastings.  I am yet to visit the town on a day that the weather won’t re-blow your hairstyle, but always think its worth it when I enter the gallery (and after a fish and chips lunch).

Home to the Jerwood Collection of British modern art on the upper floors, the lower galleries are dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art with a programme that  remained true to painting when others were tempted by the easy income of sensationalist art. They have carved themselves out as true leaders in the display of the best contemporary thought in the field of painting.

There is a small outdoor space which is used creatively – often handed over to artists who turn it into a verity of environments, everything from an art garden to rotating saunas.

The collection, diligently collected by Alan Grieve, comprises of 300 British works of art from the 20th and 21st centuries, the brunt of which lies in post war England. In an intimate encounter of touching closeness, one can admire Barbara Hepworth, Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson, John Piper, L. S. Lowry, Walter Sickert, and Christopher Wood, and contemplate the similarities of consideration from the artists working at that time.

The galleries are small but spacious with an elegant quality that draws the eye to tastefully arranged lines of site. The design is with thanks to HAT Projects who won the 2013 National RIBA award for it. The museum, apparently, is sustainable for its  CO2 creation per m2 being 60% less than a museum of comparable size, and almost entirely naturally ventilated. Sounds good. I think. On the first floor there is a nice cafe serving local fare overlooking the sea and the shop is small but well stocked.

The train journey is a bit long but very straight forward from London. It is a great day out to do with the kids and doesn’t require an overnight stay. The small streets surrounding the gallery have fresh fish shops, chip shops, and antique stores which make for a fun gander. When you are done, the funicular will whisk you up the cliff for a wonderful view of town and sea. According to the site: a source of immense local pride.