Eva Rothschild tapestry being woven at West Dean College

School of Arts 2019 Highlights

As we reach the end of 2019, Alison Baxter, Head of School of Arts, reflects on some of the School's highlights from the year.

1) Artist residencies

Earlier in 2019, we announced an International Open Call for applications to our Artist-In-Residence programme. Highlights from 2019’s intake include Renee So – who’s new exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion emerged from her three week residency in the Edward James Studios. Students benefited from one-to-one tutorials, workshops and group critiques with Renee So – offering a unique and enriched learning environment for budding artists to develop.

2) Writer residencies

Our International Open Call also extended to writers-in-residences, who are hosted by the MA in Creative Writing and Publishing programme. Formulated to provide research and development opportunities to writers, this year we have had the pleasure of hosting renowned crime writer William Shaw (read more about his experience here), and acclaimed novelist Sharon Duggall. Our Creative Writing students enjoyed daily engagement with the writers and unparalleled industry networking opportunities.

3) Arts Fellow Awarded

2019 has also seen the announcement of the recipients of West Dean College of Arts and Conservation’s first three fellowships.

Artist Rebecca Salter was awarded one of these fellowships due to her ongoing commitment to education, in which she has passed on her skills and knowledge to students as a visiting Artist over the years. Her interest in translating and connecting cultures has led to her recent project with the West Dean Tapestry Studio, in which one of her ink drawings was interpreted into the medium of tapestry.  

Rebecca’s recent appointment as the first female President of the Royal Academy of Arts, and her varied artistry from ceramics, to painting and printmaking sets a fantastic example to our students, demonstrating what hard work can achieve.

4) Events – Salon Imaginaire, Bauhaus

The School of Arts has hosted a variety of successful events throughout the year, designed to bring West Dean students and members of the public together in a creative a space where the power of live music, art, history and literature encourages conversation and the sharing of new ideas and perspectives.

West Dean’s Composer-in-Residence Mary Hampton has been working with the College’s Curatorial Assistant, Sarah Hughes, to curate the live music series Salon Imaginaire. Founded with the aim of promoting UK-based musicians to new audiences, performers have included the Douglas Quartet and Adam Bushell. The series continues into 2020 with performances from Alison Crum and Roy Marks, as well as Caroline Weeks and Mary Hampton.

October saw Bauhaus enthusiasts near and far gather to celebrate the centenary of the Bauhaus School of Design with a one-day symposium in partnership with The De La Warr Pavilion and Centre for Design History at University of Brighton.

5) West Dean Tapestry Studio and Eva Rothschild

West Dean Tapestry Studio has this year completed The Charterhouse Tapestry, which was woven to a design by local schoolchildren for the Charterhouse. Realising the schoolchildren’s design in the medium of tapestry was a fantastic demonstration of what the college’s founder, Edward James, stood for in advocating arts education.

Internationally renowned Eva Rothschild has continued her close working partnership with West Dean Tapestry Studio into 2019, with the second tapestry collaboration being included in her solo exhibition at The Blue Mountain School, Shoreditch, from October to November 2019. This work follows a successful collaboration in 2016 when Eva was selected from 150 artists UK-wide as the winner of the West Dean Tapestry Open Call (the first of its kind) to work with the studio in producing a new tapestry.

As one of the last remaining professional tapestry studios in the UK, these partnerships and collaborations with the community and artists have given students the opportunity to gain an insight into the 50,000 year old tradition of woven tapestries.

Additional reading and information

Residency programme

Find out more about our Residency Programme here.

Read Writer-in-Residence William Shaw’s blog post on his residency, and find out what novelist Sharon Duggall thought about the experience in her blog post.

West Dean Fellowships

Read the full press release for details on our three new fellows for 2019 here.


For our list of events coming up in 2020, please view our events page.

West Dean Tapestry Studio

For further information about the West Dean Tapestry Studios, visit the website.

MFA - Visual Arts Studio

School of Arts

Find out more about degrees and diplomas within the School of Arts here.

Our next Open Day is Saturday 8 February 2020. Register your place now.