The show includes works patronised by the famous benefactor and resident of nearby West Dean, Edward James (1907-1984), and key pieces by the photographer and model Lee Miller (1907-1977), and the painter Roland Penrose (1900-1984) who lived at Farley Farm in Chiddingly, East Sussex.

Edward James and Roland Penrose were pivotal in bringing the European avant-garde to the attention of the British public and artistic sector at a time when most public institutions in Britain pointedly ignored modern art: James through his extensive patronage, and Penrose through his curatorial and collecting activities.

Roland Penrose and Lee Miller were part of the Parisian art scene in the 1930s and forged friendships with Pablo Picasso, Paul Éluard, Man Ray, Max Ernst, Leonora Carrington and many others. Penrose with Andre Breton organised the first International Surrealist Exhibition at the New Burlington Galleries in London in 1936, to which Edward James was a key lender. ‘Surrealism in Sussex' celebrates this surrealist heritage through a glimpse into lives of these three figures.