Radical Retreat

Sussex Modernism, a new exhibition at London's Two Temple Place, explores the work of the radical group of artists, designers and writers who made their home in enclaves across Sussex in the early twentieth century...

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Edward Wadsworth, Light Selections, 1940 © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Two Temple Place, a striking neo-Gothic mansion on London's Victoria Embankment, plays host this winter to a new exhibition focusing on the development of the Modernist movement in Britain, with particular focus on the output of Sussex-based artists. Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion examines the work of the broad range of artists, writers and designers who made the county their home during the first half of the twentieth century—among them Eric Gill, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Serge Chermayeff and Paul Nash.

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Eric Gill, Icon (for Divine Lovers), 1923 © Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft

The exhibition brings together work from the collections of Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Ditchling Museum of Art & Craft, Jerwood Gallery in Hastings and the De La Warr Pavilion, among others, to show how the rural idylls and enclaves of Sussex had a profound and diverse impact on the output of the artists in question. From the surrealist collaborations of Edward James and Salvador Dalí to the sculpture and engravings of Eric Gill, the works demonstrate the breadth of Modernist work created in the area during this period, and offer an insight into the manner in which different practitioners responded to their environment.

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Duncan Grant, Venus and Adonis, c.1919 © Tate, London 2015

Running until Sunday 23 April, Sussex Modernism also offers visitors the opportunity to explore the ostentatious neo-Gothic splendour of Two Temple Place, which is only open to the public during exhibitions. Envisioned as a 'crenellated Tudor stronghold' by its original owner, William Waldorf Astor, its interior boasts bizarre and lavish decorations, including carvings of the Three Musketeers, and a gilded frieze featuring a rather disparate and unlikely range of bedfellows including Pocahontas, Machiavelli and Marie Antoinette.

Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion
Until Sunday 23 April
Two Temple Place, London WC2R 3BD
twotempleplace.org