The spice of life

Variety was promised and variety is what you got. From the strains of a ukulele orchestra intoning Ms Dynamite, to a melancholic installation by artist Caroline McCarthy dedicated to Ken Dodd and entitled Happiness, the traditional flavours of the English seaside were given a contemporary twist for the reopening of the De La Warr Pavilion on the South Coast.

While it’s nice to see the Modernist masterpiece (designed by German and Russian duo Erich Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff and now restored by John McAslan and Partners) rescued from the clutches of Weatherspoons and the ignominy of decades of neglect, clearly £8m was a tight budget and the work was not quite finished. Some of the delights, such as new public furniture designed by Barber and Osgerby, are to be revealed over the coming months. But as a mixed space it works beautifully, with a large terrace with fantastic sea views, a cavernous gallery and auditorium, plus the now obligatory bar, restaurant and (conspicuously design-conscious) gift shop.

The mix of people, from chained Rotarians to London arty-types, promenading around the opening Variety show, suggests it might be hitting the spot. All very eccentric, peculiarly English and definitely worth a trip.Variety runs until the end of the year at the De La Warr Pavilion, Marina, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex TN40 1DP. Details/

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