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Image © ONCA via Facebook

Our Independent Gallery Tour of Brighton

9 July 2019 | Holly Eliza Temple

If you fancy a culture-packed day out, but don’t fancy hours of tube travel around London, Brighton is home to some of the most exciting independent galleries and arts projects – if you know where to look. We’ve put together a walking tour of our favourites that won’t tire you out, or your wallet. 


Image credit: Mike Stoakes, via Phoenix Brighton on Facebook 
Conveniently situated on Waterloo Place on the way to the arts campus of the university on Grand Parade, Phoenix is a not-for-profit arts organisation providing artists’ studios, exhibitions and events for the creative community in Brighton. The industrial, glass-fronted building in between The Level and St Peter’s Church is hard to miss, but often passed by without exploring inside. However, Phoenix houses over 100 studio spaces and is committed to promoting public education of the arts through their wealth of events, space and support offered to artistic groups and individuals. 

A four minute walk across the road, you will find ONCA on St George’s Place, near the entrance to Brighton’s famous North Laine area. Another local arts charity aiming to provoke cultural change, ONCA has a focus on ‘social and environmental justice issues’ and is dedicated to creating a safe and inclusive space for discussion and creativity. Operating from a Grade II listed building, the space is available to hire for workshops, events and exhibitions, making event-hosting more accessible to the creative community of Brighton. By collaborating with artists, activists and academics ONCA has a constantly packed programme of inspiring projects – you can learn about what’s on here.


Image credit: lighthouse.org.uk
Of course, we couldn’t write an independent art piece without venturing through North Laine, Brighton’s hub of independent, creative businesses. A short through these bustling lanes will bring you to Kensington Street – a quiet, (almost) empty street which upon closer look is home to Lighthouse, specialising in exciting art and technology developments. Their projects include Last Dance, a series of events looking at the changes that affect UK music and youth culture, and Viral, which supports young creatives in Brighton to get the support and facilities they need to kick-start their career. A must-see organisation making the changes we need to see in the arts industry.

OK, we have given Family Store a shout out before, but the most quintessentially 'Brighton' store around is just next door on Kensington Gardens, so it’s worth popping in for a peruse. Once you’ve forced yourself to pass by their brilliant illustrated stock, the Family Gallery upstairs is a hidden gem, home to the store’s Guest Walls projects, which allow four illustrators to have full use of the space to exhibit their work for a month. Family Store also throw other great events, like their ongoing Projects, an illustrated zine and exclusive range of products released in collaboration with some of their favourite illustrators.


Image credit: In Colour by Peter Hudson at Fabrica 
North Laine isn’t the end of the tour, however, as by crossing over to the South Lanes area you will stumble upon Fabrica on the corner of Duke Street and Ship Street, a gallery based in a former Regency church. This unique organisation commissions installations specific to the building’s size and shape, meaning with every exhibition the space is considered, and used to maximise the impact of the work. Fabrica has been host to a huge programme of  exhibitions and events, including Homes by British photographer Harley Weir, Life Model II by David Shrigley, Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2018, and In Colour, an interactive light installation by Peter Hudson.
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