Press Release: Embrace your surroundings outdoor and indoor

- 98 New short courses from April to October launched at West Dean College -

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has just launched a wide range of more than 354 short courses online ( – many of which encourage you to embrace your surroundings and create objects for your home, while others transport us to a far off place or inspire us to recycle and reuse items. Running from mid-April to October 2021, the courses include painting and drawing; gardening; metalsmithing; pottery & ceramics; creative writing; textiles; sculpture; jewellery; woodworking and basketry. They span from one to five days, are for all abilities and range in price from £128 upwards.

There are more than 98 new inspiring courses varying from Bespoke maps – embroidering a sense of place with Ekta Kaul (May 20-23/ Suitable for all/ £413); through to Tailoring – hand crafted ties and bow ties with Ian Scott Kettle (June 11-13/ Suitable for all/ £275) to Goldwork beetle brooches with Hannah Mansfield (September 10-12/ Beginners/Intermediate/ £288).  

The College is a perfect place to escape and recharge, and the courses offer the opportunity to get hands on with arts and craft skills as well as boost your wellbeing in the process. Set in the heart of the South Downs National Park, in a stunning location, the College’s rural setting makes it particularly attractive as more of us take the opportunity to reconnect with and discover the restorative power of the natural environment during the spring, summer and autumn months. 

Inspiration from outside

There are courses covering all aspects of the outside environment including the flora and fauna. Three-dimensional courses also inspired by nature, include Sculpting and gilding a natural object with Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva which focuses on turning an old piece of a tree in a unique artwork (May 27-30/ Suitable for all/ £443); Plant sculptures – clay modelling techniques with Frances Doherty (July 26-29/ Beginners/Intermediate/ £425); Organic additions to clay surfaces – sculptural ceramics with Lucy Cobb (September 10-12/ Suitable for all/ £301) and Woodcarving – natural forms with Alex Jones (July 16-19/ Beginners/Intermediate/ £394).

In addition, there are variety of equine-related courses such as Three-dimensional drawing with wire – horses with Linda Lewin (May 21-24/ Suitable for all/ £415) and Sculpting the horse from wax with Vincent Gray (July 22-25/ Suitable for all/ £409).

Among the painting and drawing courses, there is Outdoor watercolour sketching with Kim Whitby (June 11-13/ Suitable for all/ £260) and Drawing to painting in oils – inspired by West Dean with Tim Patrick (June 6-9/ Intermediate/Advanced/ £409).

Textiles include Eco-dyeing and printing with plants with Nawal Gebreel (May 25–27/ Beginners/Intermediate/ £280); Drawing inspiration from the everyday with Cas Holmes (June 3-6/ Suitable for all/ £388) and Stitchbooks inspired by a walk in the park with Anne Kelly (June 28-July 1/ Suitable for all/ £384). Stitch in bloom – couching embroidery workshop with Lora Avedian offers the opportunity to learn to create a botanical artwork (July 9-11/ Beginners/intermediate/ £282); there’s also Pleated nautilus and feather-leaf ribbon brooches and trims with Milliner Leanne Fredrick (July 5/ Suitable for all/ £148) and Millinery silk flowers – meadow flowers with Anne Tomlin (July 22-25/ Suitable for all/ £394).

Inspiration from travel

Courses inspired by overseas travel include create a hand embroidered Mexican blouse with Hilary Simon (June 11-14/ Suitable for all/ £457) and Make a shibori textured scarf with Nawal Gebreel (May 25/ Beginners/Intermediate/ £152).

Items for the home - traditional skills

Among the new courses that offer the chance to create a one-off piece for your home, or as a gift using traditional skills, include Weave a willow hen basket with Dominic Parrette (June 14-16/ Intermediate/ £291) and Bookbinding for all with Marysa De Veer (September 19-24/ Suitable for all/ £622). Elsewhere, a beginners’ course in Weaving on a body-tensioned loom with Rebecca Connolly teaches a skill very similar to backstrap weaving (September 10-12/ £265) and there’s Make a raffia work bag with Claire Richards (June 19/ Suitable for all/ £140). Metalworking courses include General silversmithing with an emphasis on traditional skills with Julian Stephens (September 19-22/ Suitable for all/ £381); and Blacksmithing with Cara Wassenberg (June 5/ Beginners/ £149).

Re-using/recycling materials

Throughout the season, various jewellery and textiles courses will use recycled materials. Sculptural sustainable wood jewellery with Sarah King (September 10-12/ Suitable for all/ £278); Colourful anodised aluminium jewellery with Lindsey Mann (July 9-11/ Suitable for all/ £286); Plastic smithing – creating jewellery with waste plastics with Bronwen Gwillim (September 24-26/ Suitable for all/ £268) and Textile collage using vintage fabric with Mandy Pattullo (June 25-27/ Suitable for all/ £280).


Gardening courses are always hugely popular at West Dean, home to the award-winning West Dean Gardens. Included are Making the most of your glasshouse – advanced kitchen gardening with West Dean’s Head Gardener Tom Brown (June 12/ Intermediate/Advanced/ £128), while Growing vegetables from scratch with Laura Bolton and Max Crisfield (June 5/ Beginners/ £128) and Create your own topiary with James Crebbin-Bailey (April 17/ Beginners/Intermediate/ £163). Other garden-themed courses include Botanical photography – plant portraits with Kevin Dutton (July 23-25/ Intermediate/Advanced/ £271) and Pebble mosaics – a creative garden feature with Sue Rew (June 25-28/ Suitable for all/ £472) as well as Willow plant supports and obelisks with Dominic Parrett (September 3-5/ Beginners/Intermediate/ £321).

Creative writing

Lockdown has undoubtedly made people think differently and consider writing about their experiences and there are a few courses that could guide you. These include Creative writing – inspiration from experience with Ruth Brandt (May 28-30/ Suitable for all/ £260); Writing from life: autobiography, biography and creative non-fiction with Hannah Vincent (June 18-20/ Suitable for all/ £260) and Writing historical fiction with Elizabeth Haynes (September 3-5/Beginners/Intermediate/ £260).

To ensure a safe and welcoming campus, the College has put in place measures operating on a principle of the same as, or better than, national guidelines. This includes social distancing, self-opening doors, less students in workshops, and extensive cleaning and sanitising protocols to protect students and staff. For more details on Social Distancing and COVID-19 measures, please visit

For full details, plus information on accommodation, please visit Bookings can be made online or by calling +44 (0)1243 818300.

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation can be found on Social Media:

Notes to Editors:

  • West Dean College of Arts and Conservation was founded in 1971 by the poet and Surrealist patron, Edward James, recognised by BBC Arts as the ‘the greatest patron of art of the early 20th century’. 
  • West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has an international reputation and offers a wide selection of short courses a year, as well as part time and full time diploma and degree programmes to Masters level.
  • The College is part of The Edward James Foundation (Charity No. 1126084), also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studio.
  • All photography is free to use for editorial purposes. 
  • West Dean College is situated on the A286, six miles north of Chichester and within easy access of Portsmouth, Guildford, Brighton and London. 

For all media enquiries please contact Rachel Aked:

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 07790 732448

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ