For four years, Heidi Kuisma worked at Central Station. She started as an Intern, continued working as a Community Manager and for the past two years she was responsible for Central Station’s Content Strategy. She recently moved to Brighton where she’s looking forward to photographing her surroundings, exploring screen printing techniques and finding a job in the creative industries. Here she tells us about her new home:
I’ve only recently moved to Brighton so my creative scene doesn’t have many hidden gems and despite walking several miles on its streets and lanes in the past week, I feel that I don’t know the city that well yet. So, instead of writing about all things creative in Brighton, I decided to note down a few things that you can do and experience in one day or over a weekend. See it as a whirlwind tour of Brighton if you will with things I’ve discovered and loved so far.
You are probably going to arrive by train, so let’s start at the station. Once you get outside the station, head down Queen’s Road. You can carry on walking this street right down to the seafront, but from about two minutes from the station there’s a flight of stairs to your left taking you to North Laines. Please go down that way instead!
You’ll soon see 3 galleries all worth a visit. Art Schism is run by a co-operative of artists and makers which started as a pop up shop. Gallery 40 showcases local emerging artists in a variety of disciplines, including painting, photography, sculpture and installation. They are currently showing portraits by local photographer Alexa Clarke Kent. And last but not least, White Rabbit Gallery – a great little place that showcases and sells independent artists and makers’ work.
By now you are probably feeling a little peckish and I urge you to pop into La Choza for amazing Mexican street food. They don’t take bookings and can get very busy, so go in before the lunchtime rush. If Mexican is not your thing, another brilliant lunch option in nearby Kensington Gardens is Iydea, a vegetarian café/restaurant where you pick your own main, sides and toppings from several healthy options. No matter how full you are after lunch, I doubt you’ll be able to resist Little Bird’s massive slices of gorgeous cakes next door. Especially as they’ve helpfully set them by the window for the passersby to see!
Now that you have filled yourself with tasty food, you should walk down Gloucester Road down to Gloucester Street, turn right and then turn left when you reach the busy road. In just few minutes you should find The ONCA Gallery. Their art exhibitions focus on environmental issues and raise awareness for conservation projects. If you carry on walking further 5 minutes up the road, you’ll come across a little photography gallery called One Eyed Jacks. Their current exhibition, American Odyssey is well worth seeing. Their next exhibition opening in early April will showcase photographer, Barbara Nitke’s behind-the-scenes photographs of the American porn industry in the 80s.
It’s time to head back to North Laines. Just retrace your footsteps but instead of walking all the way to Kensington Gardens, pop over to The Coffee Counter on Vine Street for take-away drinks. Or you could stay a while playing Atari or browsing their newly opened vintage market. They have amazing brownies too.
Now to explore some of the small shopping lanes in North Laines which can get super busy at weekends. From records and spices to books and Moomins, you can find pretty much everything here. I’d walk along Kensington Gardens, cross the road to Gardner Street and then turn right when you reach Church Street, popping inside different shops when you see something you like. When you get to end of Gardner Street, look right and you can see Unlimited’s bright yellow hello character. Unlimited sells prints and other items created by contemporary illustrators, designers and printmakers. Go in but be prepared to leave with a pretty print or two. They seem to have an animal theme going on at the moment and I love their little wooden trees.
From here walk down Church Street, turn right at New Road and then head to the Pavilion Gardens which offer small green respite. Walking diagonally across the park will take you to East Street. You can now explore some of the South Laines’ shops and alleyways. The shops here are more commercial and mainstream and you won’t find items created by local people. It’s more Paperchase and Prettygreen in this part of town. Some of the tiny lanes are worth seeing though especially during quieter times.
If you carry on walking on East Street and turn left at the Fishbowl pub/restaurant, you’ll find Boho Gelato. Oh my, this is THE place to get ice-cream. Their flavours range from plain vanilla and chocolate to more unusual ones like chocolate with chilli, avocado, chocolate with pepper and mascarpone and figs. Get at least 2 scoops of different flavours (don’t worry, they let you taste the more experimental flavours before committing to a whole big scoop) in a small tub (or cone, who am I to judge) and head to Brighton Pier which is only couple of minutes away.
You can spend a while walking by the sea, browsing some of the small galleries and sit on the pebble beach. It’s great for recharging batteries and slowing down a bit. If you walk along to West Street, you can walk straight back to the train station (the street changes into Queen’s Road halfway through). If you fancy a stop, snack or a drink (or all of them), I’d recommend The Blue Man. Its North African theme makes it incredibly cosy and their food is great.
So, here you go, a quick walk around Brighton’s creative, and somewhat culinary scene in a day. If you have more time, you could wonder to Kemptown and its numerous bars and charity shops or towards Hove and its colourful beach huts. There are also plenty of other galleries such as Phoenix, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, and Prescription Art.
Right now Brighton is getting ready for Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe which are both happening in May. I also have so much more to explore from galleries to photography events and talks. Definitely many more exciting and creative times ahead of me.
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