Pallant House in Chichester is a delightful 18th-century townhouse filled with period furniture and a fine collection of predominantly 20th-century British pictures. It is worth visiting at any time of year, but never more so than now with the opening this morning of the Bishop Otter Collection, a small but pleasing display which perfectly compliments the house's permanent collection.
The Bishop Otter Collection was formed for a local teacher training college between the late 1940s and the 1960s by two women with an eye for a certain sort of British art and an annual budget of roughly pounds 50. For the most part they restricted themselves to contemporary works, but among the earlier things are a good drawing by Sickert, a watercolour by Paul Nash, a little oil by Alfred Wallis and a fantastic preparatory study by Stanley Spencer for his 1928 masterpiece, the Sandham Memorial Chapel at Burghclere.
The generosity of such eminent figures as Henry Moore and Ivon Hitchens helped stretch their limited budget (both are represented by decent if modest works) and somehow they even managed to stretch it further to acquire a fine gouache study by Graham Sutherland and a good selection of works with a St Ives bias by the likes of Patrick Heron, Peter Lanyon and William Scott. This is not a grand exhibition - there are no real masterpieces, but it provides an interesting mini-history of two decades of English art and offers a chance to see some work usually kept from public view.
EYE ON THE NEW
The ever-inventive Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne opened 1997 last week with "A Cloudburst of Material Possessions - A Fantasy on A Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci", a peculiar but quite intriguing show of works by 19 contemporary artists. Rather strange - rather good. High St, Old Town, Eastbourne, (01323 417961) to 9 Mar