IT may have been a grey summer, with the sun all too often replaced by rain and cloud. But there is a corner of Oxford where it the sun is beating down, and there's a whiff of salt, seaside rock and candyfloss in the air.

The Sarah Wiseman Gallery in Summertown (appropriately) is revisiting the magic of bygone summer holidays with an exhibition of pictures inspired by the British seaside.

The show, called Escape, runs at the South Parade gallery until August 26 and features work by some of the country's leading artists, among them Clare Bonnet, Peter Kettle, Fletcher Prentice and Dan Parry-Jones.

Gallery owner Sarah Wiseman said a visit was the next best thing to grabbing a bucket and spade and heading to the coast. She said: "For many of us, the summer months are a time to escape, re-charge and refresh, but for many artists this can be a key time to find new inspiration and ideas. The longer days and brighter light is much more conducive to drawing and painting, and artists often draw new inspiration from travel.

"Bringing together the best of contemporary painting, this exhibition is inspired by travel, while keeping in mind that it’s possible to start a journey anywhere, even in your own back garden."

Among the most eye-catching are Cornish painter Clare Bonnet's colourful, and nostalgic, pictures of crowded beaches – painted in the open air, with broad and lively brushstrokes, as if buffeted by a strong sea breeze

Ms Wiseman added: "The wonderful thing about artists, is that they see possibilities everywhere. They know that you don’t always need to travel far to find inspiration.

"One or two of the artists in this year’s show have made trips overseas, or around the UK, but many find constant inspiration and excitement just being where they live."

* Escape is at the Sarah Wiseman Gallery until August 26.