Press Release: New hub of making & creativity opens in Central London ahead of London Craft Week


Ahead of London Craft Week, the annual London festival taking place in May celebrating creativity and craftsmanship, Londoners and visitors to the capital are invited to unleash their own creative potential as world-renowned college of arts & craft opens in the heart of the capital. 

West Dean College London was today, Wednesday 24 April 2024, officially opened by BBC The Repair Shop’s ceramics expert Kirsten Ramsay, alongside a range of expert makers demonstrating their craft skills - from weavers and leather makers, to Passementerie artists and painters. 

Arriving in London’s Bloomsbury from the Sussex countryside, the world-renowned college described as a ‘Hogwarts for making’ invites Londoners to get creative with an eclectic range of over 100 one-day, two-day and weekend courses across the arts, craft, design and conservation to choose from.

Kirsten Ramsay, Ceramics Conservator for BBC The Repair Shop and West Dean Alumna, said: 

“I am thrilled to be opening West Dean London which offers the opportunity to learn new skills and make right in the heart of London. I am also beyond excited to be taking the tapestry course - something I have never done before! 

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 widen my skills and knowledge of other materials. 

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 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 - in close proximity to the British Museum, the British Library, Wellcome Collection, University of London and SOAS. 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 London 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. 

Francine Norris, Principal at West Dean, said:

“Today we throw open our doors and invite people to choose from the widest range of 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.” 

Alexander Barron, Chief Executive at West Dean, said:

“We are thrilled to introduce ourselves to London! 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.” 


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

Helena Zedig   

[email protected]

0044 7803 596 587 

Miles Evans 

[email protected]

0044 7812 985 993


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.

Kirsten Ramsay West Dean alumna