Press Release: Be inspired, basketmaking short courses at West Dean College

An increased appreciation for sustainability has led to a revival of basketmaking, chair seating and willow work. Be inspired on a short course with the inspirational tutors at West Dean College and explore age-old techniques drawn from around the world. Use sweet scented willow, rush or cane and other sustainable weaving materials to make useful or sculptural items for the home or garden. West Dean offers a country-style house setting, where you can learn a new creative skill, enjoy the award-winning gardens and meet like-minded people.

Make an Irish potato basket or skib in Willow basketmaking - traditional to contemporary with Joe Hogan. An award-winning basketmaker, Joe teaches in his native Ireland and beyond, where he makes indigenous Irish baskets such as the creel. (13 - 17 May £447 Intermediate/Advanced).

Introduce structure into your garden by learning how to make a spiral or domed plant support with Dominic Parrette. Dominic is a coppice craftsman and experience basketmaker and teaches many rural crafts. Willow work for the garden (8 - 11 June £337 Beginners/Intermediate). Dominic also teaches sculptural willow for the garden (7 - 9 October £230 Beginners/Intermediate).

Mary Butcher is a basketmaker, exhibition curator and writer. Mary was made an MBE in 2012 and a Crafts Skills champion in 2013, in recognition of her work with the next generation of makers. Experience three classic materials and learn a variety of techniques in Willow basketmaking or chair seating in cane and rush (28 June - 1 July £339 Suitable for all).

Tim Johnson is an artist and innovative basketmaker and has exhibited internationally, winning awards for his work in Spain and Poland. Combine basket making, textile art and sculpture while working with a diverse range of plant fibres and basketry techniques. Explore fibre art and basketry (8 - 14 August Summer School £711 Suitable for all).

Learn traditional willow basket weaving methods influenced by East Germany, including invisible joins, flat, thick wale for use on trays, rope weaves and follow-on borders adding to your repertoire, making a range of baskets to suit your own needs. Willow basketmaking - influences from East Germany with Mary Butcher. (24 - 27 September £337 Suitable for all).


Wake up to beautiful views over the Sussex Downs in the stately splendour of a country mansion. The bedrooms are a mixture of contemporary and traditional styling. Student rates from £55 Bed & Breakfast.


For more information about Short Courses at West Dean and to browse the Short Course digital brochure visit First time bookings receive a 10% discount (telephone bookings only call 01243 818300).


Notes to editors

  • West Dean College is part of The Edward James Foundation which also comprises West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and the West Dean Tapestry Studio. Charity No. 1126084.
  • The award winning Gardens are open from 1 February - 20 December with special event days throughout the year; Mother's Day in the Gardens (15 March), Easter Egg Trails for children (1 - 6 April), Annual House Opening (9 & 10 May), Design and Craft Fair (19 - 21 June), 20th Anniversary Chilli Fiesta (7 - 9 August), Half Term Halloween activities (26 - 31 October) and Father Christmas visits (12 & 13 and 19 & 20 December).
  • The College runs over 700 short courses in arts, crafts, gardening and music each year as well as full time postgraduate programmes in Visual Arts, Conservation, Making Stringed Musical Instruments and Creative Writing.
  • All photography is free to use for editorial purposes.
  • Any journalist interested in visiting the Gardens, attending a course or an event for news or review purposes or filming at West Dean should contact the Media Relations team.
  • West Dean College is situated on the A286, six miles north of Chichester and within easy access of Portsmouth, Guildford, Brighton and London.

Media contact information

For media accreditation or high-resolution digital images, please contact:

Irene Caswell, Senior Media Relations Officer +44 (0)1243 818301


West Dean College and Gardens, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ


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We are part of a registered charity and rely on the support of generous donors, members and legacies to help us deliver world-class education in conservation, design and the creative arts and maintain our award-winning gardens.

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