Sussex art trails are back - yes, it's that time of year. Sussex is an artists' and art lovers' paradise - whether you dabble, do it seriously, collect or just love looking, do visit Sussex for inspiration. A piece of local artwork, created by someone who is immersed in the landscape and atmosphere, makes an evocative and lasting souvenir.
For those of a creative turn we have the views, the detail, big skies, deeply-shaded woodland, seascapes and a fabulous coastal light. This is a county where almost any medium seems to work, from watercolours to scrap metal. If you're an artist you'll know what I mean - some places just cry out for a particular medium that seems to convey their atmosphere, softness or perhaps harshness, but here in Sussex I don't think that applies.
You only have to visit local galleries or follow art trails to open studios to discover the contemporary truth in this, but we have history on our side too. From neolithic carvings to Roman mosaics - of which fabulous examples can be seen at Fishbourne and Bignor, presumably commissioned by rich patrons - the tradition goes way, way back. In more recent times, Edward James of West Dean, near Chichester, was a great collector of Surrealist art and patron of Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte. Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant of the Bloomsbury group lived at Charleston, near Lewes, while ground-breaking art nouveau illustrator Aubrey Beardsley was born in Brighton - as was the sculptor and designer Eric Gill, who founded an art colony in Ditchling (he seemed to have a thing about colonies). Edward Burra's work moved seamlessly between his Sussex roots and his American jazz obsession, and I am always moved by Eric Ravilious's watercolours and engravings of the South Downs and the sculptures of Philip Jackson, whose gallery is at Midhurst.
Pallant House Gallery in Chichester must be high on any art-lover's agenda and if you're staying in Sussex it really should not be missed - we have plenty of superb holiday accommodation nearby. There's the Paolozzi exhibition to look forward to from July to October.