Press Release: Get creative in the autumn and winter months with West Dean College of Arts and Conservation's short courses

- Perfect way to escape and try something new -

For those looking for a way to escape this Autumn and Winter, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has just launched their new programme of arts and crafts short courses for October 2022 through to March 2023. There are 20 new tutors for the AW22/23 Season and more than 70 new courses encapsulating themes such as traditional crafts; learning from other cultures to being eco friendly and sustainable. The courses could also make a wonderful and memorable gift as they offer the perfect opportunity to try a new craft or the chance to return to a lost skill.

The wide variety of courses with expert tutors offer the chance to paint, sew, sculpt, garden, forge and nourish the mind. There’s 400+ short courses to choose from which are on sale now via Courses span from one to five days, are suitable for all abilities and range in price from £128 upwards. Set in the heart of the South Downs National Park, the College’s rural setting makes it an ideal place to escape, recharge, and immerse yourself in a new skill this Autumn and Winter.

Welcoming Autumn

The gardens and surroundings at West Dean look stunning during Autumn and several courses are inspired by its colours and textures. Two new courses with Veronica Main MBE, who is the most experienced traditional straw hat plaiter in the UK include Traditional straw work – harvest tokens from November 6-8, 2022 (suitable for all/ £300) and Swiss straw work – hat decorations on November 9, 2022 (suitable for beginners/ £168).

Also embracing Autumn is Botanical painting – autumn colours with Sandrine Maugy (October 16-19, 2022/ suitable for all/ £412); Millinery silk flowers – autumn leaves and berries with Anne Tomlin (October 23-25, 2022/ suitable for all/ £283); Painting autumn landscapes in oils with Tom Benjamin (October 28-31, 2022/ suitable for all/ £412) and creating Silver jewellery – leaf pendant with Sarah Macrae (November 11, 2022/ beginners/ £157) and Digital landscape photography – autumn colour with Roy Matthews (October 28-30, 2022/ intermediate/ advanced/ £284)

Traditional and Heritage Crafts

West Dean College is committed to supporting endangered crafts and showcasing traditional crafts. Among the new tutors is historical blacksmith Joe Tyler, who will be inspired by the skills of the Saxons and Vikings with Medieval ironwork (February 18-19, 2023/suitable for all/ £315).

Furniture and woodworking courses with new tutors include Woodturning for beginners with Stefano Santilli which offers the opportunity to create an individual three-legged stool and learn a wide variety of different woodturning techniques and skills that can be applied to future projects (January 13-15, 2023/ beginners/ £299); Shaker box making with Richard Gibson will allow participants the chance to make a beautiful set of three nesting Shaker boxes (February 8-10, 2023/ suitable for all/ £349) and there’s also Richard Findley’s course on Woodturning – better bowl turning (March 28-30, 2023/ intermediate/ £328).

Two drawing courses using traditional methods with new tutor James Napier, which are suitable for all: Figure drawing – quick studies runs from November 25-28, 2022 (£491) and Figure drawing – sustained pose from February 19-24, 2023 (£771). Alternative photographic printmaking with new tutor Peter Renn is designed for anyone who is interested in historic photographic processes and who wants to make prints with or without a camera, using techniques which need minimal equipment and facilities (March 12-15, 2023/ beginners – intermediate/ £496).

Focussing on the traditional craft of basketwork is Willow basketmaking – a forager's frame basket with Dominic Parrette from November 18-20, 2022 that uses traditional European techniques and is suitable for beginners and intermediates (£294) and new tutor Eddie Glew offers two courses for intermediate students - Creating a picnic hamper with partitions (January 23-26, 2023/ £409) and Creating a willow vegetable hod basket (February 27- March 1, 2023/ £279).

Two leatherwork courses with Jeremy and Carla Bonner offer the chance to create a possible Christmas gift. Slip case for tools (December 6-8, 2022/ suitable for all/ £306) and later in the programme is make a full leather shoulder bag (March 2-5, 2023/ intermediate/ £485).

Two painting courses with Maz Jackson that use traditional techniques include an introduction to egg tempera painting on November 3, 2022 (suitable for all/ £159) and painting miniatures using gum tempera (February 10-12, 2023/suitable for all/ £298).

Other traditional crafts include Stained glass – experimental painting techniques focuses on learning expressive painting techniques using traditional media with new tutor Surinder Warboys (November 28 – December 1, 2022/ suitable for all/ £513); Fired enamel copper bowls, that could make a unique Christmas gift is with new tutor Sharon Ford (December 6-8, 2022/ beginners-intermediate/ £293); Book art – vanishing fore-edge painting with Martin Frost (October 22, 2022/ suitable for all/ £174); Silversmithing – an emphasis on traditional skills with Julian Stephens (March 3-6, 2023/ suitable for all/ £400); Raised embroidery – contemporary interpretation with Fleur Oakes (March 9-12, 2023/ beginners/ intermediate/ £400) and Abigail Burt’s course highlights the art of lost-wax casting that has existed for thousands of years and takes place from April 2-7, 2023 (£792).

Eco-friendly and sustainable

From Eco-materials & dyeing to creating items from recycled objects, there is a wide range of courses. For those with a basic understanding, Isabella Whitworth’s course on Natural dyeing – further techniques introduces how to use your knowledge to achieve creative pattern and natural colour (February 5-8, 2023/ intermediate/ £435) while Screenprinted textiles – botanical natural dyes is with Lara Mantell will produce dynamic, beautiful textiles, with ecologically sourced materials, using a contemporary interpretation of screen printing with botanical dyes that is suitable for all (March 16 -19, 2023/ £442)

Among the textiles courses that are suitable for all, Alice Fox explores Natural structures – in mixed-media textiles and will take a series of natural, three-dimensional forms, e.g. seed pods, shells and nests, as the starting point to create drawing, collage and construction techniques (October 31- November 3, 2022/ £410) and Hand block-printing with natural dyes is with Sarah Burns (January 17 -20, 2023/ beginners – intermediate/ £486).

Other courses using natural materials that are suitable for all include: Land art using natural materials with Dan Lobb (October 21-23, 2022/ £273); while Deborah Petch’s Fluidity of ink – drawing will use inks that are handmade from charcoal (November 3-6, 2022/ £415) and Embossing – eco printmaking is with Tracey Bush (January 7, 2023/ £154). For the more advanced – there is Melanie Rose’s Contemporary painting with raw materials (March 9-12, 2023/ £423)

Courses that are suitable for all and give the opportunity to reuse objects creatively include Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva’s Sculpting and gilding a natural object such as an old tree into an artwork (December 2-5, 2022/ £435); while Caroline Wendling’s Printmaking – reworking prints and plates encourages participants to give old plates and unwanted prints a new life (December 15-18, 2022/ £415); Plastic smithing – jewellery with waste plastics is with Bronwen Gwillim (February 19-23, 2023/ £554); Sculpture from recycled steel and forged metal with Cara Wassenberg (February 26-March 2, 2023/ £578).

Learning from other cultures

A wide variety of courses focus on techniques from around the world. New tutor Sara Cook will be offering the opportunity to learn about Bojagi (Korean wrapping cloths) and Jogakbo - a stitched Korean covering cloth on November 21, 2022 (suitable for all/ £143). Another Christmas gift idea is making a textured silver bangle using the ancient Korean craft of Keum-Boo with new tutor Jessica Jue (December 1-4, 2022/ intermediate/ £506).

Courses focussing on Japanese techniques include Experimental Japanese vinyl printing with new tutor Wuon-Gean Ho (March 3-6, 2023/ suitable for all/ £442); Katagami stencilling with indigo is with Rob Jones (February 19-22, 2023/ beginners/ £420); Woodcut prints – exploring the process with Rod Nelson (March 19-22, 2023/ suitable for all/ £440) and Kumihimo – Japanese braidmaking with Jacqui Carey (March 27-30, 2023/ suitable for all/ £417).

Inspired by the icons of Crete is Gilding and painting a Byzantine icon with Peter Murphy (November 13-18, 2022/ suitable for all/ £717), while Chinese brush painting – all the tea in China is with Julia Martin (October 30 – November 3, 2022/ suitable for all/ £518)

MATERIALS WEEK in February exploring the medium of glass

Each year in February, West Dean runs a series of courses exploring a theme, which this time will be glass and its many decorative forms. Sasha Ward’s Stained glass course is suitable for all and titled Working with colour and light (February 12-17, 2023/ £639), as is Enamelling – contemporary techniques with Jessica Turrell (February 12-16, 2023/£550) while Glass gilding and signwriting with Richard Walker (February 12-16, 2023/ beginners/ £583) incorporates a variety of skills that will teach you how to decorate clear glass with pure gold, white gold, silver, mother of pearl and painted finishes. You will also learn how to blend, draw and provide texture onto the surface. Two courses for the intermediate to advanced students include Mosaics – the principles of making with Emma Biggs (February 12-16, 2023/£523) that will look at the thought processes that underlie the production of a successful mosaic and Freya Pocklington’s Experimental self-portraiture – through the looking glass (February 12-16, 2023/£550) explores the vast subject of self-portraiture by examining a variety of artists including Louise Bourgeois, Cindy Sherman, Frida Kahlo and many more.

The Gardens – talks and courses

West Dean College is surrounded by the stunning award-winning gardens. Ben Pope will give an evening talk on his new book ‘What to grow, sow and do, a seasonal garden’, that is followed by a book signing which is a perfect Christmas present for budding gardeners (November 26, 2022/ £38). Another talk will be on Enchanting plants with Hester Forde which is aimed at those with small gardens who want to maximise the space they have and grow more unusual plants (March 19, 2023/ £38).

Ben Pope will also return for two short courses that are suitable for all - How to prune with confidence (January 21, 2023/ £134) and The winter garden – creating and maintaining winter interest (March 4, 2023/ £144). Dr Sylvia Travers will explain about Growing apples, pears, plums and cherries (November 12, 2022/ beginners/ intermediate/ £134); while Ria Marshall will give tips about Planning your kitchen garden (December 10, 2022/ beginners/ £134). For the indoor gardener, Alys Dobbie will focus on making a kokedama, terrarium and living wreath (January 17, 2023/ suitable for all/ £209).

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.
  • KLC Ltd joined The Edward James Foundation in July 2021, allowing West Dean College of Arts and Conservation and KLC School of Design to combine operation from August. The move brings together two of the most prestigious and well-established providers of specialist creative education in the UK. KLC offer a selection of Garden Design courses and more details can be found


For all media enquiries please contact:
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 01243 818300

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0QZ