Alumni news

Our worldwide and world class alumni share their news and stories.

Andrew Braund, metals alumnus, gives talk at Buckingham Palace

Metals alumnus gives talk at Buckingham Palace

Since completing his studies in 2023, Andrew Braund, metals alumnus, has established himself as an armoury conservator and in November contributed to an event at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace.

In addition to Andrew's replica shield being on display, Andrew joined Simon Metcalf (The King's Armourer) and Dr Alex Hildred (from The Mary Rose Museum) in talking about how the replica was made, offering insights into how recent research and conservation of these unusual inventions has informed our understanding of how gun shields were intended to be used during Tudor warfare.

For his Masters thesis, Andrew explored the use of gun shield replicas in collections for interpretation and engagement. As part of his research, he consulted with Simon Metcalf and Dr Alex Hildred who are experts on 16th century gun shields; and decided to base his replica on a gun shield from Henry VIII's arsenal, found on the Mary Rose.


December 2023

Fine Art alumna joint exhibition

Fine Art alumnae Ruth Glasheen, Ruth Heaton and Philippa Clarke will be participating in a joint exhibition entitled Landworks at Jack House Gallery, Portsmouth this autumn.

Each artist displays a unique approach to landscape - including drawing, painting, sculpture and weaving. United by a shared interest in landscape, their work uses visual language to describe the complexities of place shaped by history, myth, geography and the imprint of human and animal-kind

Preview: 20 October, 6 - 9pm

Exhibition: 21 - 29 October


October 2023

Creative Writing Class of '23 Anthology Launch

Congratulations to our MA Creative Writing and Publishing class of 2023 on the launch of their anthology, 9 Stories.

Published by Epoque Press and supported by Programme Leader Mark Radcliffe, the collection in the anthology represents extracts of work that began as part of their studies at West Dean. The book features beautiful illustrations by Catherine Kurtz, who is an artist, as well as a writer, and has provided the art for each of the stories.

A talented group of writers with bright futures ahead of them! We are proud that they came to West Dean to develop their craft.


October 2023

Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize

Fine Art graduate, Nina Gross, is exhibiting work as part of the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2023. Nina’s work is exhibited as one of 22 drawings shortlisted for the Working Drawing Award.

Exhibition: 29 September – 15 October


September 2023

Alumna's Toronto Exhibition

Fine Art alumna Catharine Somerville's works will be included in a new exhibition at Gallery 1313 in Toronto. The exhibition is a collaboration between three artists embracing their own personal ideas of what “landscape” means.

Exhibition: 25 October - 5 November


October 2023

Cecile Masson West Dean Ceramics Alumni New Book

Alumna’s time at West Dean influences new book

Cécile Masson studied ceramics at West Dean in 87/88 and remembers it was the year of the big storm.

She recently got in touch to let us know that the years at West Dean also influenced her novel called Rose Letters of Love to Life. The beauty of the Gardens have certainly had an important place and the great storm too in the narrative.

Cécile told us: ‘My time in West Dean College was a rich and diverse experience and was influential in my personal and professional journey. The beauty of the estate, with its gardens, the arboretum, and experiencing the practical application of proven theoretical expertise of various conservation practices, made it the foundation for my future life. The international community of students certainly gave it an extra flair.’

Find out more about Cécile's book Rose Letters of Love to Life.

July 2023

Julian Bickersteth

Furniture alumnus establishes Conservation Studies Bursary for West Dean students

West Dean are delighted to announce that Julian Bickersteth has established the International Conservation Services Australian Bursary. Having received a part-scholarship himself to study at West Dean, he is keen to support practicing Australian conservators and students looking to further their education at West Dean on the MA Conservation Studies.

Julian, who studied the Graduate Diploma Conservation Studies Furniture and Related Objects at West Dean, graduated in 1982 and within four years founded International Conservation Services (ICS) in Australia. 30 years on, Julian is now CEO of ICS, Australia’s largest private fine art and heritage conservation practice, with labs in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Perth employing over 40 permanent staff plus casuals. ICS works across the disciplines of furniture, paintings, works on paper, textiles, sculpture, archaeology and outdoor heritage for myriad collecting institutions including, government bodies, corporations, major universities and private collections.

Julian explained: “West Dean showed me how I could combine something that I loved with earning a living. It set me up for a highly rewarding career for which I will always be grateful.”

Heidi Hennessy, Funding and Outreach Manager at West Dean, also added: “We are thrilled to have Julian’s support in this way. Having received a part-scholarship himself to study at West Dean, this is such a great way to support others overcome financial barriers to learning and access a course they are so passionate about. Thank you so much, Julian!”

June 2023


Aptly titled Conservation of Books, a definitive 700-page reference guide which took two years to create and was edited by esteemed West Dean alumna Abigail Bainbridge has been recently published by Routledge. 

Abigail enlisted 16 alumni and former tutors from West Dean to join a global team of 70 conservators and conservation scientists to produce the book. This is the first ever reference book of this magnitude for book conservators and will be a cornerstone text for years to come.

Read more here

June 2023

Arts alumni to show work in joint exhibition

Congratulations to MFA alumnae Philippa Clarke, Ruth Glasheen and Ruth Heaton who are holding an exhibition in Sheffield in July. Their combined works include drawing, painting, sculpture and weaving. The artists each use different visual languages to describe the complexities of landscape shaped by history, myth geography and the imprint of human and animal-kind. Philippa, Ruth and Ruth have exhibited at some of the foremost exhibitions in the UK including Collect at the Saatchi Gallery and the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize.

'Underfoot' - Working and Walking the Land, Gage Gallery, Kelham Island, Sheffield. Preview  7 July 6pm - 9pm. 8 - 17 July 11am - 6pm.

June 2023

Alumna awarded Honourable Mention

Congratulations to FDAD and DACC alumna Sylvia Radford on being awarded an Honourable Mention in the Contemporary Expressions Award 2023 by Contemporary Art Station!

The Contemporary Expressions Award is an acknowledgement of remarkable performance in expression, communication and creativity.

Of her work, Sylvia told us, "I dismantle and reframe family photographs to question and change the context of how we see and read things. 'In the Springtime' asks questions about reproduction of an image and assembling materials linking with themes about the fragility and instability of memory and temporal identity.

I would like to thank my West Dean Fine Art tutors for their support, and especially Sarah Hughes, who encouraged me to enter this!"

Sylvia is now studying for the MFA and her work will be included in the West Dean Fine Art Summer Shows in July, alongside fellow students on the Diploma in Art and Contemporary Craft, Graduate Diploma Fine Art, and MFA programmes.

June 2023

Alumna selected for Artist Support Pledge exhibition

MFA alumna and short course tutor Kate Boucher has been selected for the next Artist Support Pledge in-person exhibition, A Generous Space 3, at Huddersfield Art Gallery.

Kate told us “I’m very pleased to have been selected and to be able in turn to select another artist to exhibit. Artist Support Pledge has been life changing for me, and continues to be my main income.“ Kate is also in the middle of writing her second book with The Crowood Press, Making Charcoal for Artists, which will be published late 2023/early 2024.

Artist Support Pledge founder Matthew Burrows MBE was a recent keynote speaker at the arts alumni inaugural event in April.

June 2023

Poetry inspires FDAD alumna’s exhibition piece

Rosemary Bickle (FDAD 2017-2019) has a painting currently being exhibited in the West Downs Gallery, University of Winchester, Romsey Road. Her painting was inspired by Georgia Hilton's poem 'The Lost Art of Staring into Fires', which is published in the University of Winchester Alumni poetry book of the same name. (Valley Press 2022). All the artworks have been inspired by one or other of the poems in the book and produced specifically for the event. After the exhibition, they are to be exhibited permanently in an online University of Winchester Winton Society Exhibition.

Her painting 'Metamorphosis' fits into her current sublime theme of inspiring meditative questioning on the nature of life, death, good, evil and spirituality. The exhibition of over 30 paintings and poems is open from Monday to Saturday weekly until 25 June with free entry.

June 2023

Would you believe it?

After 40 years we have reconnected furniture alumnus David Watkinson (1982-1984) with furniture tutor Humphrey Sladden, having featured David’s donation of his personal archive to the College in the alumni newsletter.

Humphrey, himself an alumni (1974-1975) receives the alumni newsletter and got in touch with us when he read the feature about David.

Humphrey told us: ‘Reading David’s feature in the last newsletter brought back so many memories of my happy years as a tutor on the furniture restoration course at the college. I think my time there was at the zenith of the antique trade and it was at its peak too with Stanley Block and his extraordinary skill, knowledge and above all connection with all the finest dealers who gave us such valuable furniture to work on.

I feel greatly privileged have been able to help so many students, many more skilful than me, to a new career in the trade as envisaged by the BADA when they set up the course in 1972. My own time at college in 1974 was a fascinating transformation following some 20 years of farming.

Now, at 91 it is all a happy memory and I send best wishes to those of the 226 students who are still with us.’

David told us 'Forty years on and reconnecting with Humphrey has been truly magical.' Read more about David’s personal archive donation to West Dean here.

June 2023

It started 15 years ago

Congratulations to clock alumnus Matthew Read on having his conservation paper published. The paper discusses how changes to the cam-track of the Bowes Swan Automaton might change what a thing is, what a thing means and what a thing 'does'. This cross-disciplinary investigation draws on 'practical' conservation and ontological insights. And it all started as a Masters at West Dean College nearly 15 years ago! Read more.

June 2023

Suzie Wilde

Congratulations to MA Creative Writing and Publishing alumna Suzie Wilde who has had book three in the Book of Bera Trilogy published!

April 2023

Carola Del Mese

We caught up with MA Metals Conservation alumna Carola after her recent talk for the Icon Archaeology group. She told us:

I am currently working for MSDS Marine, as an archaeological conservator, and am based at the Historic England conservation and material science labs in Portsmouth. Angela, Heather and I presented a lunchtime lecture for the Icon Archaeology group on 22nd Feb, entitled '100 Sabres - or is it 101?'. We spoke about the various treatment approaches involved in the disassembly and conservation of a wooden chest which was retrieved from the wreck of the Rooswijk, a Dutch East India Company ship which sank in 1740. The chest contained 100 sabres which I carefully micro-excavated from the corroded block (seen in the image). I spoke about the method I used, and the subsequent conservation of the individual blades. About 45 people attended, and there were some really interesting questions afterwards!

This is an image from the talk, with my co-hosts from Historic England, Heather Stewart (Project Conservator) at the top, Angela Middleton (Senior Archaeological Conservator) in the middle and me at the bottom.

April 2023

Kate Jennings

Metals alumna and West Dean tutor Kate Jennings recently went to the Endless Metal training school in Ljubljana to get some in-depth training on the accessible analytical and treatment tools that the team behind the tools have been developing and disseminating information about as part of an EU funded project.

The tools that were the focus of the training school are known as DiscoveryMat, MiCorr and Pleco. DiscoveryMat is an application for the analysis of metal and alloy compositions, Pleco is an instrument for identifying corrosion products formed on the surface of metals and (where appropriate) allowing their transformation by reduction to stabilise or clean metal surfaces, and MiCorr is an application for identifying the family of metals people wish to investigate and understanding the corrosion structures present on the metals in order to assist with developing appropriate conservation strategies.

More information about the project can be found here and Kate particularly recommends having a look at the MiCorr website which has been specifically developed to assist specialists and non-specialists alike in understanding the likely composition of metal objects, and as such is a highly accessible, practical and free(!) resource.

April 2023

Furniture alumnus gifts personal record of West Dean

West Dean College has for the first time acquired a personal archive of one of its former students. David Watkinson, a furniture restoration student 1982-1984, has kindly gifted the College his collection of photograph albums, portfolios, correspondence, certificates, audio and video recordings, together with material about his subsequent career as French Polisher at the Palace of Westminster. 

We are delighted to acquire David’s archive which is such a comprehensive record of his experience as a student here in the 1980s. This not only provides an invaluable record of the technical skills that he acquired from his tutor Stanley Block working on a wide variety of furniture, but also the wider events and social life at the College at this time. In a letter to his parents, David records his surprise at meeting Edward James when he came to the College to open the new workshops in 1982.

David has also shared his memories through our College Oral History Project. It is wonderful that we can preserve his memories and his archive for the future interest.

April 2023

Furniture alumna Abi Tudor

GD Furniture alumna Abi Tudor (now studying the MA Conservation) will be giving a talk at ConNext 2023 about her sadeli box and explained the processes she used.

You can read more about the project here.

April 2023

Clocks alumna Rebecca Hawkridge

FdA Clocks alumna Rebecca Hawkridge, who graduated in 2022 and is now working with the highly regarded turret clock specialists, The Cumbria Clock Company based in Penrith. This prestigious company recently worked on the conservation and restoration of the great clock at the Palace of Westminster.

Since employing Rebecca, they have established a new workshop for smaller domestic clocks due to a high demand for such expertise. This also coincided with a new horological project taken on by independent collections advisor Su Fullwood, who regularly works with West Dean College students and alumni.

The work consisted of the overhaul and installation of four historic clocks on the Isle of Mull. As Su has connections with the Cumbria Clocks Company and had also worked with Rebecca during her student training at West Dean College, it seemed a perfect opportunity to work together again in a professional capacity.

The project involved Rebecca and her colleague Callum Scobie-Youngs overhauling and installing four clocks for Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull.

The location and environment presented some challenges with overhauling and installing the clocks, which Rebecca and Callum rose to with great accomplishment. The clocks were successfully delivered from Cumbria to the Isle of Mull in March 2023, one of the longcase clocks being installed in the impressive hall of the castle, where it can be seen and appreciated by visitors.

Su said of working with Rebecca and Callum “It was fantastic to work with two younger clock makers who are both recent graduates, yet they are already so impressive in their knowledge and ability, especially in the way they dealt with all the challenges and responded to me and my colleagues. I think this is a testament to their training.  I did have the pleasure of working with Becca when she was a student at West Dean, but it was so good to see her at work as a professional clockmaker, especially on such an interesting project.”

Rebecca, who decided to take the course at West Dean College after a placement spent with The British Horological Society, explained that working with the Cumbria Clock Company is improving her knowledge, skills and confidence greatly. She also “can't recommend the clock course and the tutors at West Dean enough” and appreciates the support network it has provided.

Su said “It has been a very inspiring time for me, but it really highlights that we need clock makers like Callum and Becca coming through these courses, to deal with the obvious demand. I am very much looking forward to working with them again in the future”.

Susan Fullwood
April 2023

Books alumna works on Canadian Conservation Institute's Notes

We caught up with Christine McNair who told us about an exciting project she has been working on over the past year at the Canadian Conservation Institute.

“I was thrilled to rewrite the CCI Notes 11/7 Basic Care of Books and 11/8 Display of Books. The CCI Notes are a legacy publication which I remember consulting during my time as a student at West Dean. Updating and maintaining the CCI Notes is a wonderful continuous initiative done in collaboration with the CCI publications team. I was fortunate to receive feedback on my early drafts from two other West Dean alums who have worked at CCI on contract — Tiffany Eng Moore and Bronwen Glover!”

February 2023

Hala Sabet

MFA alumna Hala Sabet exhibited at the Cairo Art exhibition held at the Egyptian Grand Museum earlier this month, represented by Arcade Gallery. The Museum is due to open this year and will be one of the world's biggest, most modern and renowned museums in the world. Hala told us: 'I am thrilled and cannot believe such a honour. This is a dream come true'.

February 2023

Suzanne Van Leer

Suzanne Van Leer has had an article published on the topic of Heritage Houses in the Netherlands in Conservation News, a Dutch conservation magazine. In the article she describes her role as a Collections Care Advisor in her province and how she is able to tap into her national and international network to provide the best information for the people who work to preserve the Dutch cultural heritage. Currently available to read in Dutch here.

February 2023

Jo Boddy

Jo Boddy (FDAD Alumni 2021) is excitedly preparing for two exhibitions in March. One will feature six of her recent linocut and collagraph prints as part of the ‘Print at the Park’ Spring Exhibition at the Old Fire Station Gallery, Henley-on-Thames, March 16th – 29th. One collagraph, ‘Storm’s Coming’ began life on an Approaches to Drawing course at West Dean with Jo Veevers.

Jo embarked on an MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins in September 2022 and will be joining first year MA students from across the Fine Arts Programme in their interim exhibition (approximately 100 students). This offers a wonderful opportunity to not only participate by exhibiting but also by helping to curate the exhibition which will be an experience in itself!

Jo is currently working on something rather new for this exhibition which will be based around her explorations of the Swinley Forest where which she walks most days and which has featured in her work since she discovered printmaking during her FDAD. She’s currently extending her linocut techniques with caustic soda etching and opening up new possibilities with poly-plate lithography and etching techniques.

February 2023

FdA Musical Instruments alumnus wins national award

Many congratulations to Foundation Degree Arts Musical Instruments alumnus Jonathan Hill on winning the inaugural Heritage Crafts Woodworker of the Year Award 2022!

Awarded at a special presentation at the House of Lords earlier this week, the accolade celebrates a heritage craftsperson who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of woodworking over the past year. It recognises a contribution that is far beyond the ordinary, based on a proven dedication to a particular woodworking skill.

Luthier Jonathan is a maker of historic and modern stringed instruments including the viola d’amore, lira da braccio, violin and viola families. He completed his training on the Foundation Degree Arts Musical Instruments programme at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation in 2012, and then worked for a number of stringed instrument makers in the UK and Europe, before setting up his own stringed musical instruments workshop.

Jonathan is the only maker in the UK specialising in Violas d’amore and has now made more consecutive instruments than any other maker, living and historically.

Jonathan said:

“My initial training at West Dean, where I learnt to make a wide range of historical instruments with varied methods of building, encouraged me to be open minded in my approach to making instruments. This mindset has allowed me to work with freedom and creativity within a very traditional field, making my work stand out. I am honoured that this has been recognised by the Heritage Craft Association in being awarded Woodworker of the year 2022.”

February 2023

MA Conservation Studies alumna collaborates with West Dean College

Carola Del Mese has been working at Worthing Museum after they received funding from the South East Museums Development fund and Arts Council, for conservation of metalwork grave goods from a Saxon cemetery in Sussex. As a collaboration with the Metalwork department at West Dean College, she brought some of the objects in to analyse them using the XRF (X-ray fluorescence equipment) to find out the elemental make-up of the objects. This gave the students some practice and experience with the equipment and with some significant archaeological finds. It also added information to the greater pool of knowledge regarding the Roman and Saxon communities which were buried on Highdown Hill. In particular they discovered that a belt buckle was made of a high tin bronze, instead of pewter, and confirmed that inlay on a unique belt slide was silver. James Sainsbury (Curator of Archaeology at Worthing Museum) will be returning to carry on analysis of some rare objects called Sussex Loops, later on in the year.

February 2023

FDAD/DACC alumna selected for CAC Emerging Artist Programme 2023

Congratulations to current MFA student Sylvia Radford who has been selected for the Contemporary Art Collectors (CAC) Emerging Artist Programme 2023!

CAC is an art and culture platform that discusses relevant conversations and topics in art, explore the culture of contemporary collecting and asks how art itlsef can become a more prominent and meaningful part of people’s everyday lives. Their Emerging Artist programme selects twenty artists internationally each year, celebrating the best new practices from around the world.

January 2023

MFA alumna exhibits at The Other Art Fair

Carrie Jean Goldsmith is exhibiting her work at The Other Art Fair 9 – 12 March. She uses various media to create both abstract and loosely representational artwork with colour and tonal gradation key elements to her work. She endeavours to create imagery that is both compelling and ambiguous and always with a glimmer of light. She is influenced by her surroundings and her own physical and contemplative state. Carrie Jean’s work attempts to capture the essence of her subject, seeking the balance between expressionism and informed thought. The exhibition is at The Truman Brewery, Shoreditch.

Susanne Irving exhibiting at The Holy Art Gallery virtual exhibition

Susanne Irving at The Holy Art Gallery Virtual Exhibition

FDAD-alumni Susanne Irving is pleased to be exhibiting at The Holy Art Gallery virtual exhibition, after seeing the opportunity promoted in the October 2022 alumni newsletter.

Susanne’s work has been exhibited in Petersfield, Portsmouth and Godalming, and this is the first time Susanne has applied for a virtual exhibition.

Since graduating in 2018, Susanne has experimented with creating thought-provoking, richly layered mixed media pieces. Keenly aware of how the making of art can contribute to environmental issues, Susanne upcycles materials, incorporating items that would otherwise end up in landfill, and experiments with environment-friendly materials and processes.

She is interested in exploring how art can enable us to connect with our inner and outer worlds, spiritual experiences, and each other. A work may be inspired by a material, nature, a memory or inspirational prose or poetry. Susanne takes time to step back to bring out the uniqueness of each artwork until it becomes a snapshot of a particular moment, insight, or experience.

Two original paintings, which were first shown in Portsmouth Cathedral in the summer, are included in the virtual exhibition. “Tidal play” was inspired by Susanne’s love of the sea. “Spiritwind” was inspired by a small paper collage which was stolen the previous year. Susanne decided to explore the idea again on a canvas that would not fit into anyone’s handbag!

Also included in the exhibition are 3 hand-finished prints, which were produced by carbon-neutral print company The Print Space.Two of the prints are based on a 90x90cm original work called “Origins”, which has recently been purchased. Susanne enjoyed the challenge of capturing some of the vitality and explosive power of the original painting in the hand-finished 50x50cm prints, using pieces of other prints and millet husks.

The third hand-finished print, “Memories”, is based on a painting that was sold at the Appart exhibition in Godalming earlier this year. Benches have been an important motif since 2020.

Susanne shares about her artistic process and inspiration in her weekly blogposts on her website She also posts on Instagram under #susanneirvingcreative

Carpal Karaoke by Helen Clifford

Recent arts alumna sells first commissioned artwork

DACC alumna Helen Clifford-Jones is delighted to have sold her first painting to a private collector this month. The abstract work, Carpal Karaoke, focuses on the colours of her childhood and her recent double carpal tunnel surgery on both wrists! She told us:

'Carpal Karaoke because of my limited use of my hands at the moment, making it challenging to work. Karaoke, because of my love of song and the palette, is very much of my childhood - the 1970s. Growing up in Cyprus, where the sun always shone and the sky and sea were a fabulous blue. I yearned for pretty pink dresses, but my mum thought they were naff and tasteless. The red is me. In and amongst it all. It's life. It's living. Drama and passion. It is the essence of being present and here. Reflecting on this, my most recent piece of work, I look back fondly to all the wonder and awe of not knowing what lies ahead. Childhood is the chance to dream of what's possible in the future. That is why these colours are important to me. The shapes, in this instance, compartmentalise aspects of nature, emotions and memories.'

Medium - Acrylic on canvas and is 100cm wide by 150cm long.

November 2022

Christmas at Quebec House - Ghazala Jabeen

Christmas at Quebec House - Ghazala Jabeen

This year Christmas at Quebec House was to be something special.

'I was lucky during my time as a Conservation Assistant at Greys Court to work with an incredibly talented house team led by our then House Manager, Lizzie Champion. She took us on a trip to the wonderful Dennis Severs house to inspire us to create something magical for our displays and exhibition. I was wowed by the way in which Dennis Severs played with light and dark, the senses (sight, smell and sound) and atmosphere. Inspired, we created visionary displays, one of which won the National Trust's 2018 interpretation award.

Following the success at Greys Court, I felt ready to lead Christmas in my role as Collections and House Officer at Quebec House. My experience at Grey's, combined with my MA studies, helped inspire and challenge me to create something atmospheric and sensory. As part of my CCCM MA at West Dean College, I was taught best practices in project management, as well as challenging yourself to ask why what you do matters.

For me, I wanted to create a Georgian Christmas that used light to create an atmosphere similar to the 18th-century and provide sensory experiences for our visitors to enjoy. I started by creating a mood board to map out my vision and then proceeded to develop a project management plan. The most important element was communication among the team and volunteers to ensure we were working towards the same goal and achieving our objectives.

The CCCM MA taught me the fundamental importance of building a strong foundation as part of any successful project management plan. It also taught me to prepare for challenges and the unexpected and assess risks to collections. As a result of excellent project management, Christmas at Quebec was completed with time to spare! Our Georgian Christmas has been received with overwhelmingly positive visitor AND volunteer feedback. Throughout the project, I kept going back and asking myself 'why it matters' to ensure our Georgian Christmas tied in with Quebec's Spirit of Place.
This mattered because we want visitors to learn, discover and explore 18th-century Georgian history and the childhood home of General James Wolfe.'

Ghazala Jabeen studied MA Collections Care and Conservation Management 2018 - 2020

December 2022

Jane Freemantle - MFA

MFA alumna Jane Fremantle has announced she is exhibiting at Oxmarket Contemporary in Chichester this month. She says:

‘I recently lost my studio space, and the question of where I was going to put all my stone sculptures was the catalyst for asking if Oxmarket Contemporary had any spare exhibition space/time. They very kindly offered me two weeks before Christmas. A recent project has been the putting together pieces of my work with that of painter, printmaker, teacher and writer Mike Walker. We were delighted to find that there was a real correspondence between our work, so the coming exhibition is a chance to put the 2D and 3D in close proximity. We're excited about curating it together and leaving the final arrangements to happen on the installation day.

I will also be showing outdoor sculpture in lotus onyx and soapstone in the adjacent courtyard.

I’m viewing it as a ‘pop-up’ as the short timescale doesn’t allow me to obsess over every detail, but I will continue to aspire to the stratospheric standards of curation learnt at West Dean (thanks to Sarah Hughes) and a rigour of thought process (thanks to David Stent).

It would be great to see any West Dean friends at the Private View on Tuesday 22 November 6-8pm.

The exhibition is in the Wilson Gallery, Oxmarket Contemporary from the 22 Nov - 4 December. Entry is free.

October 2022

Jonathan Hill

Jonathan Hill – Musical Instruments

Congratulations to Jonathan Hill on being shortlisted for a new Heritage Crafts award. Jonathan is one of three finalists for the Woodworker of the Year award which celebrates outstanding contributions to the field of woodworking over the past year that is far beyond the ordinary, based on a proven dedication to a particular woodworking skill. The winner of the award will be announced on November 7th at a Winners’ Reception at the House of Lords.

Jonathan is a maker of historic and modern stringed instruments including the viola d'amore, lira da braccio, violin and viola families. After graduating from West Dean in 2012, he worked for a master violin maker in Yorkshire, and studied instrument making in Turkey with a master traditional oud maker.

October 2022

Kate Boucher Petersfield Museum Drawing with Charcoal

Kate Boucher – Fine Art

Kate Boucher is currently exhibiting 13 charcoal drawings at the Petersfield Museum and Gallery where she'll be demonstrating techniques on 5 November. The series entitled Beating the Bounds, was started in 2020 in response to her daily lockdown walks and a close investigation of the landscape of West Dean, West Sussex.

She also has a piece in 'A Generous Space 2', The New Art Gallery, Walsall which is the second exhibition for Artist Support Pledge, a charity raising money to support artists struggling financially during the pandemic. Her work was selected by Stephen Snoddy, the gallery director.

Artists Support Pledge was founded by artist Matthew Burrows in March 2020 as a way of supporting artists struggling financially during the pandemic. Utilising the social media platform Instagram and using the hashtag #artistsupportpledge artists posted works on the platform for a maximum price of £200.  Artists and buyers could liaise directly through messages to agree a sale. Every time an artist made £1000 in sales, they pledge to spend £200 buying work from another artist/s. Over the past 18 months Artist Support Pledge has become a global phenomenon and in 2020 it generated an estimated £60 million in sales for artists.

Several of Kate's pieces are also at the Art & Rivers exhibition at the Fen Ditton Gallery and at 'A Rabblement of Bone & Rot' at Artworks, Halifax.

October 2022

Emma Straw Tapestry

Emma Straw – Tapestry

Emma Straw has recently been to Finland to see her work in an exhibition. On her birthday back in 2020, Emma heard that her 4 tapestries had been selected for the Artapestry 6 exhibition. The following January the exhibition started its 2-year tour in Denmark before moving to Sweden, Latvia and finally Finland.

The 4 tapestries were the main pieces she exhibited in the MA show here at West Dean, using pigment drawings she had created in the Fine Art studios throughout the year. She then went on to complete a summer school at the College with Cos Ahmet where she learnt 3D techniques which inspired her to create these open warp tapestries using coloured wools she had dyed throughout the year.

October 2022

Matthew Read

Matthew Read - Clocks

Congratulations to Matthew Read who was shortlisted as one of ten finalists for the prestigious International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works [IIC] Keck Award for his lockdown project, ‘Open Clock Club’.

The IIC Keck Award is presented every two years to the individual or group who has, in the opinion of the judging panel, contributed most towards promoting public understanding and appreciation of the conservation profession.

Matthew’s application to the Keck Award focussed on a lockdown project that was the follow up to a book, which he finished writing during a period of furlough, about clock repair. The book, ‘How to Repair Pendulum Clocks’, was aimed at beginners and underpinned by conservation values. ‘Open Clock Club’ was next - an on-line, lockdown support event for anyone, especially beginners, interested in clock repair.

Using a desk top computer and a mobile phone as a camera, the first, open-to-all, free-to-attend, online, interactive, Open Clock Club (OCC) took place on Zoom in November 2020. The OCC met for 50 weeks and participants were invited to comment as Matthew showed the clocks on his bench and demonstrated conservation techniques.

Each episode was uploaded to YouTube and when the OCC closed its virtual doors in 2021, 50 hours of free-to-view content had been produced for, and hosted on, the OCC YouTube channel. By April 2022, the OCC archive had received 28.9k views and 6.1k watch hours, with viewers from over 30 countries.

In mid-2021, Matthew started a parallel Facebook group, to support beginners. The ‘How to Repair Pendulum Clocks’ (HTRPC) FB group now has 3k members, who all have twice-daily, free-of-charge access to Matthew’s decades of experience as a clocks conservator. Members of the group are encouraged to post work in-progress and to describe their tools, clocks and work on clocks.

The IIC’s Executive Director, Sarah Stannage FRSA, said, ‘your narrative stood out for its originality and capacity to create a model for lasting change..’

October 2022

Ruth Heaton University of Salford installation

Ruth Heaton MFA

Before studying three art courses at West Dean Ruth worked in greater Manchester as the deputy director of nursing in a mental health trust and then as a lecturer in mental health nursing at the University of Salford.

Recently the university held an event around mental health and invited Ruth back to speak to staff about her career journey from mental health to art. Ruth had some works of art installed in the Mary Seacole building in the School of Health and Society at the university which were unveiled for the staff. As part of World Mental Health Day, a group of students came to see her pictures and explored with tutors some of the themes in her work.

October 2022

Leah Humenuck

Leah Humenuck - Books

Books alumna, Leah Humenuck who is a colour science graduate student at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has been involved with developing methods to make spectral imaging more feasible for end users.

She is in a team of scientists from RIT that is turning studio photography technology on its head to help museums and other cultural heritage institutions preserve historically significant artifacts. Faculty and students from RIT’s Munsell Color Science Laboratory have developed new LED-based spectral imaging techniques they say will offer small to medium museums a practical way to capture accurate digital representations of items in their collections.

October 2022

John Chapman

Clocks alumnus John Chapman brought a very unusual clock to show the students last week. The one year duration regulator clock was the most accurate type of mechanism back in the day. Made by Abraham Taffinder of Rotherham, it advertises the 1851 Exhibition at Crystal Palace, although it is not known if it was actually on display at the Exhibition.

July 2022

Claire Buckley Tapestry

Claire Buckley – Tapestry & Textiles

Claire is really pleased to have had her work accepted for the Hasting Open 2022 at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery. It is on 1 October 2022 - 15 January 2023.

She is showing her tapestry weaving Moon:Stone which includes Sussex Hag stones. There were a large numbers of entries submitted so she is especially pleased and excited to be one of the just over 80 artist to have had work selected for this exhibition which celebrates the diversity of artistic talent in Hastings and beyond. 

October 2022

Catia with Ian Macleod

Catia Viegas Wesolowska - Metals

Catia recently told us about her involvement with the Metals Working Group of ICOM-CC which is concerned with the conservation, restoration and preservation of all objects made of metals or metallic alloys of archaeological, indigenous, artistic or historical origin.

The aim of the Metals Working Group is to foster conservation and to promote the conservation science of Metals, to encourage the networking of conservators and metals experts, and to facilitate the dissemination of information on current conservation practice, research, and education; by electronic communication, meetings, specialty groups and social networks.

Every three years there is a conference to present current work, meet and discuss topics related to the group's aim. In September 2022 the National Museum of Finland and the Metropolitan University organised the Metal2022 conference, which took place in the beautiful island of Suomenlinna

‘I was invited to be part of the programme committee, which entailed reviewing the conference papers, a process which took over a year. I was also honoured to be invited to chair one of the sessions on conservation treatment. It was an honour to chair a varied group of conservators from Sri Lanka to The United States and join the discussions. These conferences offer a unique opportunity to meet face to face (at last!), and share projects, discuss treatments, talk about institutional procedures, and share our sustainable attitudes towards conservation.’

October 2022

Dale Sardeson Clocks

Dale Sardeson - Clocks

It was great to see MA Conservation Studies alumnus and horological conservator Dale Sardeson at Arundel Museum in September as part of the Heritage Open Days with Icon; an initiative raising awareness of the work conservators do.

During the day, Dale worked on some of the museum's beautiful time pieces that were made by local clockmaker Thomas Walder, giving visitors a fascinating insight into what goes into keeping these antique machines ticking for hundreds of years.

October 2022

Julian Bickersteth Keck Award 2022

Julian Bickersteth - Keck Award 2022

Furniture alumnus comments on 2022 Keck Award
We spoke recently with Julian Bickersteth, President of the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC) about the 2022 Keck Award.

The winner of this prestigious international conservation award fronted by the IIC is gaming company Game Jam, a project from Mexico which educates people about conservation through computer games, has won IIC's Keck Award 2022. The winner, the National Coordination for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage (CNCPC), receives a £2,500 prize. The Keck Award is presented every two years to the individual or group who has contributed most towards promoting public understanding of conservation and engagement.

Julian said: ‘The Keck Award is all about conservators engaging the public. The way in which Mexico's National Coordination for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage has developed Game Jam for Conservation progressively over the last 3 years is truly inspirational. From archaeological conservation and repairing the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City to preventing illicit theft and trafficking in fossils by using the gaming world a whole new audience has been opened up for conservators. Do explore!’

October 2022

West Dean College Oral History Project

Do you have any special memories of studying at West Dean?

An oral history project to capture student, staff and alumni memories of West Dean College is gathering pace. Jackie Herrington, a former member of staff, has now recorded over 25 hours of memories from the time the College opened its doors to students in October 1971 to the present. Unsurprisingly, common themes are emerging about the experience of being at West Dean - a totally immersive environment, the value of one's own workbench space, the freedom many people feel here to be themselves, long friendships made and maintained. Each personal memory is contributing unique and distinct gems to the overall picture – making varnish, work placements, induction fire safety demonstrations. We are keen to collect memories from staff, students and alumni, so if you would like to add yours, we’d love to hear from you. Most of the recordings have been made in the College but Jackie is happy to travel to homes or workplaces that are not too far flung. For those further afield there may be an opportunity for us to record your memories online or by email.

If you are interested to find out more, please contact Jackie direct on [email protected]; she will be eagerly checking her Inbox on a regular basis.

June 2022

Kate Boucher to exhibit in Petersfield

Fine Art tutor Kate Boucher will be exhibiting in the newly renovated Petersfield Museum and Art Gallery with sculptor Alison Crowther from 21st September - 26th November. The exhibition, 'Alison Crowther and Kate Boucher: Traces in the Landscape' brings together, for the first time, hand-carved wood sculptures by Alison Crowther and charcoal drawings by Kate Boucher.

August 2022

Creative Writing Alumna gets published

Congratulations to MA Creative Writing & Publishing alumna Nicki Herring on the upcoming publication of her debut novel 'This place of happiness'!

The novel is the first to be published of a two book publishing deal Nicki signed last year with publishers Dark Edge Press.

'This place of happiness' was written as part of Nicki's studies at West Dean College, and has been described as "a genre-busting piece of social history merged with a slice of literary fiction and with an added splash of romance".

The book is available to pre-order online ahead of its August 9th publication.

July 2022

Las Pozas inspires MFA alumna

MFA alumna Catharine Somerville talks about her work, her inspiration and the influence of her time spent in the gardens at Las Pozas whilst studying at West Dean College.

August 2022

Leah Humenuck

Books alumna Leah Humenuck was invited to present at the Society for Imaging Science and Technology conference ‘Archiving 2022’. At the conference, her talk entitled Practical Comparison of Rendering Programs for 2.5D Models of Embroidered Binding Covers covered a recent research project she has undertaken. She told us more about it:

“I was inspired to perform this research project based on the Bodleian's Textiles in Libraries series
and Icon's Textiles & Book and Paper Groups: A Patchwork of Shared Skills
event. As a conservator and developing color scientist, I like to pursue projects that display the
materiality of books in practical ways. Embroidered books are objects that present a unique
challenge to show their materiality and sometimes traditional photography is not always sufficient. During a course last semester in my program at Rochester Institute of Technology Munsell Color Science Lab, I explored 3D modelling of embroidered
books and wanted to develop the idea further. I am grateful to the Rochester Institute of
Technology's Cary Collection for allowing me to examine one of their items and present at Imaging
Science and Technology's Archiving 2022."

June 2022

Harriet Sylvester

Ceramics alumna Harriet Sylvester joined five other businesses who together formed ‘The Restoration Hub’, a new initiative and a worthy opportunity for a stand at the Suffolk Show, a two-day event celebrating the best of Suffolk. Held on the 31st May and 1st June 2022, six businesses came together under one tent roof to display their work and have ample time to converse with the general public. An event that draws in over 90,000 visitors it was certainly an attraction for the avid fan of the BBC's The Repair Shop! From rugs to ceramics, book binding, furniture, upholstery and saddle leather repairs there was plenty of expert advice on offer. It was certainly a great opportunity to raise awareness of my new business, Hythe Conservation, within the area. A thoroughly enjoyable and sociable two-day event, which will hopefully encourage the safeguarding of artefacts and prevent the idea of reaching for the bin first! This is potentially the start of a variety of more shows to come, promoting conservation to a wider audience.

June 2022

West Dean CCCM Alumna curates new National Trust Exhibition

Aeryn Townley has seen the efforts of all her work come together in a new exhibition she has curated that has opened this month. ‘Front Lines’, an exhibition of sketches by artist Geraint Ross Evans is inspired by Stanley Spencer’s First World War murals and explores life in a hospital during the battle against COVID-19.

Aeryn has organised the whole event, from approaching the artists, curating which pieces to include in the exhibition and where they should sit, the publicity and marketing and has enjoyed involving key stakeholders.

She has been able to use elements she learnt from the CCCM course in risk management at West Dean College, ensuring that the appropriate insurance was in place and that the art works were all hung safely, including a large panel in the gardens.

The exhibition is on at the National Trust’s Sandham Memorial Chapel in Hampshire, home to war artist Stanley Spencer’s famous series of artworks, which were created from his own experiences as a hospital orderly and a soldier during the First World War.

For more information about the exhibition which runs from 11 June to 25 September click here.

June 2022

Maria Borg

A large number of manuscripts in the collection at the Notarial Archives collection and other collections in Malta are written in iron gall ink, which increases in acidity over time and tends to damage the paper. The video, taken at the National Archives of Malta, shows the process of consolidation whereby areas of text damaged by iron gall ink are repaired and stabilised using very fine Japanese tissue paper and a non-aqueous adhesive. This treatment requires great patience and gentle application due to the fragile nature of the paper.

The manuscript shown in the video is a nineteenth century manuscript containing notarial deeds. The manuscript was in good condition,but required large areas of text to be consolidated due to the acidity of the ink used. The consolidation treatment took months to complete, but the manuscript is now ready for display and can be handled safely by researchers.

Video filmed by alumna Sarah Portelli.

June 2022

Hala Sabet – MFA alumna

Hala appears on a podcast where she talks about how she changed her life from being the most senior woman in the multinational oil and gas giant, Shell, in Egypt, to becoming a fine artist. Hala draws on her Egyptian roots to express the universe through sculpture and painting. She was selected by the Royal British Society of Sculptors and the International Art Fair in Egypt, where she also has recently had large scale solo exhibitions. We explore curiosity and courage through the idea of biblical coding, Islamic geometry, gravity and profound grief when art was her essential life force. Hala shares the loss of her mother, brother and feeling devastated when her husband needed major heart surgery.

Take a listen to the podcast, Can Art Save Us? by Paula Moore ( here.

April 2022

Alumni investigate the Bowes Swan

Clocks Alumni Matthew Read , Daniel Corda, Dale Sardeson and Anna Rolls (Metals) came together to study the Silver Swan, the Bowes Museum’s most famous and magnificent exhibit. The week-long in-depth investigation by this group of the country's leading dynamic object curator-conservators considered ‘What is Swan and What is its Future?’.

Watch this video to find out more here.

April 2022