The black tiles and sharp angles of the Jerwood Gallery, which would make the building a striking home for its 20th and 21st century collections in the heart of any modern metropolis, nonetheless nestle comfortably among the tall dark net huts on Hastings’ fishing beach.

It is not an obvious settings for a prestigious gallery.

A stone’s throw from the sea, surrounded by kiosks where trawlermen sell their catch and sitting in the shadow of the ruins of a Norman castle, the Jerwood has become another entry on the eclectic list of reasons to visit Hastings since it opened in 2012.

And now for the last couple of years it has pooled marketing resources with the De La Warr in Bexhill and the Towner gallery in Eastbourne to promote the “Sussex “Coastal Culture Trail".

The trail encourages visitors to sample all three art houses and to enjoy the views and hospitality of the 25 miles of coastline which they share.

The Jerwood is currently playing host (until April 17) to a crowd-sourced exhibition of the works of Hastings expressionist artist John Bratby, lovingly named “Everything But the Kitchen Sink, including the Kitchen Sink".

The gallery originally hoped for a few dozen responses to its call, but instead received over 300 submissions, testament perhaps to Bratby’s arguable preference for quantity over quality in a lifetime which generated over 3,000 works.

The paintings selected for display in the Jerwood’s primary gallery - a light and unadorned space of bare screed floors and white walls - are the pick of the crop, but there is tremendous variation of style and quality among the collection.

The highlight is undoubtedly the titular kitchen sink - actually, the bathroom sink - a vivid expressionist work which moves and bleeds and swirls. One can almost imagine that after capturing the dancing night sky in The Starry Night, it was to this prosaic scene which Van Gogh returned before bed.

But around the corner, next to a strikingly gaunt view of Paul McCartney at the height of his fame, a portrait of Michael Palin is somewhat less identifiable, and still life works of sunflowers are perhaps better left to the master himself.

A few hundred yards along the sea-sprayed shore from the gallery lies the Stade, a purpose-built cookery school at which the head chef Toby puts as much enthusiasm as he does seafood into the dishes.

In a well-appointed facility, you can learn how to make the best of shellfish and locally-sourced fish in evening cookery classes which are as much social club as cookery school.

It’s all tremendous fun, although not necessarily for the squeamish. The sauce for the seafood linguine which Toby helped our class whip up was flavoured with the hand-crushed brains and shells of prawns bought fresh that day.

On a bright winter’s day in Hastings the steep walk up East Hill provides some rugged landscape for an afternoon walk and works up a good appetite for dinner, well provided at The Old Custom House in the centre of town.

The cosy little seafood restaurant has an ever-changing tapas-sized menu centred on locally-sourced ingredients, although from further afield the Jersey oysters are a particular treat.

The Culture Trail suggests that visitors can take advantage of cycle paths and bus routes between Hastings, Bexhill and Eastbourne, but whether by pedal power or under your own steam, it would be too much for even the most hardened culture vulture to take in all three galleries in one day.

So an overnight stay is called for, and if you can find it, the unmarked boutique hotel The Printworks, next to the old Observer newspaper building, provides luxurious king size beds and pedestal baths in a renovated loft apartment.

After a hearty homemade breakfast at The Printworks, the intrepid aficionado can continue their trail down the coast with a quick drive to the De La Warr pavilion and gallery, where until April 10 Brazilian artist Tonico Lemos Auad’s contemporary works take up the whole of the glass-walled ground floor.

Auad’s sculptures - in rope, in sand-blasted beer cans and in a living herbal garden - are “tools for processing thought".

The De La Warr exhibition includes a 100-can installation on the un-raised floor of the gallery, meaning the sculpture sits exactly on a level with the shore outside.

Meticulously sand-blasted to remove all but a few design elements - a flame here, a tree there, blue waves on another - the matte silver cans are grouped as islands, evoking questions of culture, of hetero and homogeneity and of an earthy battle between litter and nature.

On from the gallery there are bargains to be found in Bexhill’s charity shops and music fans can enjoy the Keane Trail of the band’s favourite haunts before moving on to Eastbourne to overnight at the Devonshire Park Hotel, facing the Towner Gallery.

In contrast to the spacious renovations of the Printworks, the family-run Victorian edifice of the Devonshire represents a much more traditional seaside hostelry for the weary traveller.

Some R&R can be had in the leather armchairs in the drawing room, and chess sets and a small library provide a diversion from a weekend of high culture.

Then after an English breakfast, cross the road to the Towner Gallery, situated next door to the Eastbourne Congress theatre, which boasts the largest gallery space in the South East.

Rooms devoted to the Recording Britain project, commissioned by Sir Kenneth Clark on the eve of war, offer a unique insight into the landscape and architecture of a world and a way of life which has largely been swept away.

Clark commissioned artists to paint “places and buildings of characteristic national interest”, and the result was 1500 watercolours of which 49 documenting decrepit farmhouses, rural churchyards and picnics at Glyndebourne are on display at the Towner.

Elsewhere the gallery boasts the most significant body of work by watercolourist Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) in the country, the heart of which is a warm and lyrical depiction of the sweeping rivers of Cuckmere Haven heading out to the sea.

And a stark white studio space showcased the photography of Peter Sellers, whose beautifully composed pictures of family friends and his exquisitely photogenic wife Britt Ekland, gave him a successful secondary career with work published in Vogue and the Sunday Times.

A rich and warming Sunday lunch at The Dolphin pub in Eastbourne, with crisp real ales and light fluffy Yorkshire puddings, is the perfect way to round off a long weekend’s ‘culture trailing’ before heading home along the coast road via Beachy Head.

It is not hard to believe that East Sussex County Council and other sponsors have chosen to support these three galleries - the Jerwood, the De La Warr and the Towner - which offer so much and such diversity in such proximity.

It feels pretty fortunate that they’re all right on our doorstep.

For more information go to