Over the past 50 years, Brighton has transformed into an art Mecca. In fact, you can barely walk 5 metres without passing a convoluted street of craft stalls or a giant paint sprayed mural of a celebrity; Elvis Presley is a firm favourite. For its 200,000 residents, the cosmopolitan weave of art and inclusivity are intrinsic to the city’s energy.
Many people are attracted to the Brighton art scene, which champions self-expression and innovation above all else. Here we break down some of the city’s most accessible and inspiring works of art.
What Does Art Mean in Brighton?
Brighton has built up a reputation as an eccentric seaside town, starring drag queens, YouTube performers, influencers, eco-warriors, and artists.
Unsurprisingly, this conglomerate has resulted in a unique and creative culture. For those unfamiliar with its streets, stepping into Brighton is comparable to stepping off a plane into hot, tropical destinations; it’s common to experience a sudden feeling of “otherness”. However, this sensory explosion is more inclusive than most, and it primarily revolves around the city’s creative scene.
Practically everywhere you turn, you’re met with a form of art. And to be clear, we’re talking about art in a liberal sense, from striking architecture to classic literature. To quote a famous Brighton novelist;
“I’ve never changed. It’s like those sticks of rock: bite it all the way down, you’ll still read Brighton. That’s human nature.” – Brighton Rock by Graham Greene.
In this article, we’ll be exploring graffiti, fashion, architecture, and many more forms of emotional expression.
Map markers of the 6 art scens in Brighton
#1 Banksy’s Mural
Location: The Prince Albert, Trafalgar Street
Has there ever been a more suited duo than Brighton and Banksy? Perfectly encapsulating the city’s vibrant LGBTQ scene, the Kissing Coppers can be found on the wall of The Prince Albert pub.
While the policemen are the stars of the show, the wall is full of other colourful characters such as Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, and, surprise surprise, Elvis Presley.
Unfortunately, the piece is a replica. The original was unveiled in 2004 and received a fairly controversial response from the public. This was largely due to the provocative nature of the stencil as well as Banksy’s reputation as an activist.
After multiple acts of vandalism, the pub’s owner cut and sold the original. It was eventually purchased by an anonymous buyer in an auction in Miami for a grand total of $575,000.
In many ways, the mural represents more than sexuality; it’s a direct challenge to authoritative figures and stereotypes. However, given its history, it’s also a living reminder of the societal challenges we’ve faced in accepting sexual freedoms.
Directions to The Prince Albert pub: The full address for the pub is 48 Trafalgar St, Brighton BN1 4ED. It’s just a minute’s walk from Brighton train station and the art can be viewed from Frederick Place (road adjacent to Trafalgar Street)
#2 Enter Gallery
Location: Enter Gallery, Bond Street
When we think of galleries, huge buildings like The Tate spring to mind; grand structures full of endless halls. However, many of Brighton’s galleries are small, localised places, making it easier for visitors to look around.
Additionally, it allows less-renowned artists to grab a foothold in the industry and showcase their work.
Enter Gallery is one of these places. Their claim that “the era of art elitism is over” is both bold and much-needed in an industry sometimes known for its stuffiness. Visitors can find a variety of daring, modern works of art in their space, as well as a warm and inviting team.
In all truth, the city is stocked full of unique galleries and art shops that deserve attention. Some of the most popular are:
- Kellie Miller Arts
- Conclave Brighton
- Two Cats and a Cow
- Dynamite Gallery
So, if you want to pick up a unique Brighton art print, you’ll have plenty of choices!
Directions to Enter Gallery: The full address for the gallery is 13 Bond St, Brighton, BN1 1RD. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from the famous Royal Pavilion.
#3 The Royal Pavilion
Location: India Gate Entrance, North Street
Completed in 1811, The Royal Pavilion is a majestic, grade-I listed building close to Brighton beach. It was first used as a seaside retreat for George Prince of Wales, who saw Brighton as a pleasure town full of gambling houses, theatres, and great food.
Much of the pavilion is built in Indo-Saracenic style, inspired by 19th century Indian Islamic architecture, popularised during the British occupation. This can be seen in the building’s huge domed roofs and minaret towers.
Inside the building, the foreign influence continues. Vast decorative drawing rooms are built in French neoclassical design, while the interiors are largely decorated with Chinese and Indian furnishings.
All in all, The Royal Pavilion is a prime example of how foreign influence has inspired and moulded art in modern Brighton. Visitors to the area can freely walk around the pavilion’s grounds and gardens, and organised tours are available for the interior.
Directions to The Royal Pavilion: The full address to The Royal Pavilion is 4/5 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton BN1 1EE. It’s a 15 minute walk from Brighton train station, located right in the heart of the city.
#4 Proud Cabaret
Location: Proud Cabaret Brighton, St. George’s Road
You can’t talk about Brighton’s art scene without mentioning drag queens and kings. The city hosts England’s most established Pride festival each summer, but there are plenty of LGBTQ-friendly events year-round.
One popular spot is Proud Cabaret Brighton, a club that offers drag shows, cabaret, and much more. Expect plenty of elaborate costumes, experimental make-up, and buckets of personality and entertainment.
Most shows are performed on the weekend, so make sure to check available dates in advance.
Directions to Proud Cabaret: The full address for Proud Cabaret is 83 St George’s Rd, Kemptown, Brighton BN2 1EF. It is located in Kemptown, in one of Brighton’s most famous nightspots.
#5 Kensington Street Graffiti
Location: Kensington Street
Tucked in between a few of Brighton’s most talked-about neighbourhoods lies Kensington Street. It’s an area sometimes referred to as “the Bohemian quarter”; it’s renowned for its large and domineering graffiti pieces.
In fact, it’s become a blank canvas for expression and activism. Impressive scenes raising awareness for environmental causes, class divide, and racial inequality litter the walls. Some of the more well-known works include:
- The Aung San Suu Kyi mural (a Burmese political activist)
- The James Brown tribute
- Brighton Whale Mural by John Ives
The works of art are a great representation of the past, present, and future. It’s worth wandering through each small street and alley, exploring the art in your own time.
Directions to Kensington Street: The full address is Kensington Street, BN1 4AJ. It is a small street located in the North Laine area of central Brighton and measures just 145 metres long!
#6 North Laine Bazaar
Location: North Laine Bazaar, Upper Gardner Street
From antique collectables to 1960s fashion, the North Laine Bazaar is a culmination of 50 market stalls.
The market is open most days of the week and has become a gravitational centre of creative types looking for unique objects at an affordable price. Many people walk down the street for the experience alone, which feels bustling and, on a Sunday, chaotic.
The local streets have become a popular place to find salvaged oddities and unwanted, nostalgic quirks.
Down these streets, you can also find various brick-and-mortar stores, including Lucy and Yak, Resident Music, Komedia performing arts theatre, and Down to Earth coffee.
Directions to North Laine Bazaar: The full address to get to the Bazaar is 5-5A Upper Gardner St, Brighton BN1 4AN. It is located within the North Laine shopping area.