Press Release: Artisanal Craftsmanship

Londoners get to unleash their creative potential as the world-renowned college of arts and craft opens in the heart of the capital.

Ahead of launching a new campus for both full-time degree and diploma courses and part time courses in September 2024, West Dean College arrives in Bloomsbury from the Sussex countryside, giving Londoners the chance to make their mark this Spring and Summer with an inspiring range of short courses.

Between 4 April and 27 June 2024, Londoners and visitors to the capital looking to learn new skills, meet new people, and boost wellbeing after the long winter months, will be able to choose from an eclectic range of over 100 one-day, two-day and weekend creative courses acrossthe arts, craft, design and conservation.

Since opening in 1971 as a centre for education and training in conservation and the visual and applied arts, with a specialist focus on artisanal craftsmanship, West Dean has built a global reputation as a home for groundbreaking creativity and world-leading conservation.
Housed within a stately home, nestled in the idyllic environs of the South Downs National Park, the college offers the widest range of full and part time courses on its rural campus.

Now, for the first time, the magic of West Dean will be transported from West Sussex to London where a selection of its signature classes taught by accomplished and award-winning experts, from published novelists to calligraphy masters, will be offered. From traditional techniques passed down through generations, to modern twists on classic creative pursuits, the programme will feature courses in painting, life drawing, photography, textiles, printmaking and writing, alongside highly specialised courses, from ceramic conservation and Japanese woodblock printmaking, to passementarie weaving to writing crime fiction. Encouraging fresh approaches that are sustainable and promote a sense of wellbeing, all courses will be rooted in West Dean’s founding belief that ‘making makes lives better’.

The short courses will take place in the light-filled studios of West Dean’s newly renovated London HQ, located in Bloomsbury in the heart of London’s thriving Knowledge Quarter—a stone’s throw from the University of London, SOAS, the British Library and the Museum of London. Tailor-made for Londoners with busy lives, day courses will start mid-morning to allow for travel while evening courses ensure people can attend after work.
Please see the full list of courses here.

From September 2024, full and part-time students studying on degree and diploma courses at West Dean’s KLC Design School will also be based at the campus, following a move from their current location in Chelsea Harbour.

In recent years, interest in art, craft and making of all kinds from ceramics and book binding to interior design, has seen huge growth. For over fifty years, West Dean has trained the artists and craftspeople who have kept alive endangered heritage and artisanal skills now being valued once again. Well before ceramics became the chosen hobby and mindfulness refuge of hipsters and Hollywood stars, West Dean understood the health and environmental
benefits of making. West Dean’s bold expansion, stands in contrast to declining provision for creative courses in FE and HE education.

“While I specialise in ceramic conservation, I am always looking to widen my skills and knowledge of other materials. Since studying conservation there in the late 1980s, West Dean has been instrumental to my career both as student and tutor. It’s a place I keep
returning to, to share my experience but also to learn from my fellow tutors—all experts in the widest range of craftsmanship, so I am thrilled by the opening of West Dean: London, and beyond excited to be taking the tapestry course—something I have never done before!”
Kirsten Ramsey
West Dean alumni and Ceramics Conservator for The Repair Shop

“ As we prepare to open our new London campus for full and part time courses later this year, we throw open our doors this Spring and Summer and invite people to choose from the widest range of short courses taught by leading experts in their fields. It’s an incredible opportunity for the creatively curious to try out something they had always wanted to do, or
indeed had never imagined they wanted to do.”
Francine Norris
Principal, West Dean College

“In 2021, we brought together two of the most prestigious and well-established providers of specialist creative education—Sussex-based West Dean College and KLC School of Design in Chelsea. Since then, we have been exploring how to fuse the best of both into a truly exciting next step. Our move to a wonderful heritage building in Bloomsbury is that leap! We’ll bring the best of West Dean’s Sussex offer to the heart of London’s knowledge quarter, reinforcing our growing status as the UK’s pre-eminent College of Art, Design and Conservation. We can’t wait to introduce ourselves to London!”
Alexander Barron
Chief Executive, West Dean College

West Dean College was founded by Edward James, a poet and patron of the Surrealist Movement who bequeathed his West Sussex family estate to become a centre for conservation and the historic craft practices he feared might be lost to humanity. Since opening in 1971 as a centre for education and training in conservation and the visual and applied arts, West Dean has built a global reputation as a home for groundbreaking creativity and world-leading conservation, offering a wide range of full and part time courses on its campus nestled in the inspiring natural realm of the West Sussex countryside. While the tutors are all renowned experts in their field, notable alumni range from award-winning
painters and ceramic artists to the Repair Shop presenters. West Dean’s sustained commitment to craft and endangered heritage skills has underpinned the growth of arts and crafts in the UK and internationally.

Founded on the belief that making makes life better, West Dean embraced the health and environmental benefits of making long before the current vogue for craft as a mindfulness outlet. In 2021, in what was hailed as an exciting new era for specialist creative education, West Dean merged with the renowned KLC School of Design. September 2024 will see the
two colleges cement their union further by establishing a London outpost and home for both full and part time courses in Dilke House in the heart of London’s Knowledge Quarter.

For further information, and journalists wishing to sample the courses on offer, please contact
Miles and Helena at MAP:

Helena Zedig
[email protected] | + 44 (0) 7803 596 587

Miles Evans
[email protected] | + 44 (0) 7812 985 993