West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, exterior

Press Release: National Arts charity Outside In and West Dean College of Arts and Conservation announce residency opportunity as part of Whose Heritage? Rethinking the West Dean Collection

Submissions are now open for artists from national charity Outside In (www.outsidein.org.uk) or artists that fit the criteria of the charity in terms of facing significant barriers to the art world for reasons including health, disability, social circumstances or isolation to undertake a residency at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation (www.westdean.org.uk).

The selected artist will be invited to respond to the College’s Historic House, Collection and Archive as part of Whose Heritage? Rethinking the West Dean Collection is a research project set up to re-evaluate how the collections are displayed throughout the Historic House, and asks how broader social and cultural engagement can help institutional ambitions and change. Applications are strongly encouraged from artists from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds and artists who would like to explore the artefacts in the collection and the ethics around the display and interpretation of these pieces.

The week-long residency is an opportunity for an artist who is interested in the themes of this project and would like to spend time at West Dean College making new artwork in response to them. Artists can work in any medium including, but not limited to textiles, sculptures, painting, drawing, film, installation, writing and music. Please note that this residency is an opportunity for research and experiment so there is no expectation to produce a final piece of work.

The selected artist will receive £500 for taking part in the residency. This fee must also cover the costs towards any art materials needed during the residency. Accommodation will be provided at the college and there will be support for travel costs within the UK. The deadline for application is on Monday 3rd August 2020 at 10am.

Ekoi Headdress from South Eastern Nigeria

About 'Whose History? Rethinking the West Dean Collection'

Whose Heritage? Rethinking the West Dean Collection is a research project set up to set up to re-evaluate how the collections are displayed throughout the Historic House. The project is initially focusing on the African Collection which contains objects from Nigeria, Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia. These include an Ekoi Headdress, a Sudanese drum captured at Tamai, and an expedition photo album from Sudan dating to 1882. The project aims to develop new exhibitions and interpretation that address the current neutrality in the display of related artefacts. It will actively engage members of the various communities represented in the Collection and Archive and is being conducted in consultation with heritage sector professionals. The project is actively interdisciplinary and seeks responses from areas that are currently supported by the College including arts, conservation, creative writing and making. 

About the West Dean Collection

The West Dean Collection includes artworks, antiquities, artefacts, furniture and books from pre-history to the twenty-first century. The James family lived at West Dean from 1891 and they acquired a lot of the objects on display and in use in the House. These objects represent the fashionable Edwardian household they were intended to furnish as well as the family’s various travels across Europe, Africa, Asia, South and Central America and the Arctic.

From 1984 the Collection expanded to include the collection of the poet and arts patron, Edward James. This included Surrealist and Modernist artworks by artists including Salvador Dali, ReneĢ Magritte, Leonora Carrington, Pavel Tchelitchew, and Leonor Fini.

How to apply

Artists are invited to send proposals outlining how they wish to spend their time at West Dean College, how they would like to respond to the Whose Heritage? project, what facilities they require in order to fulfil their proposal, and any additional support needs they have.

To apply please fill out the application form which you can download from the Outside In website – www.outsidein.org.uk

Please note, artists can submit alternative formats. Please get in touch for details.

Please submit your form via email to [email protected]


This is the criteria that the selectors will be using when looking though applications:

- Relevance and interest: does the application fit with the support we’re offering, the collections we’re highlighting and aims we’ve expressed?
- Artistic development: Is there clear potential for the artist’s practice to develop by doing this project?
- Personal development: How the artist can personally develop from this opportunity and support. Will the artist be challenged enough? Is it too much of a challenge?
- Commitment: Artist’s enthusiasm for the opportunity.
- Research interest: Is the artist interested in working with collections or perhaps they have experience doing this?

Key dates and deadlines

- Open Call deadline: Monday 3rd August
- Residency dates: The residency is available for one week between October and December 2020. Final dates to be decided in negotiation with the selected artist and may get postponed due to the impact of Coronavirus.


- Applicants must be 18 or over.
- Residencies can only be awarded to individual artists, not collaborative groups.
- Artists should be based in the UK
- Artist should have an Outside In online gallery. Please note: this is free to set up and is for any artist that fits the criteria of the charity.

Important information

If you need help filling in the application form or would like an easy read version, please contact Outside In by:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 07903 028397

*Outside In and West Dean College of Arts and Conservation are committed to providing fair and equal opportunities for all of its artists. In light of this, we will also consider applicant’s previous participation in Outside In activities to ensure everyone is given a fair opportunity to take part.

Outside In logo

About Outside In

Outside In is a catalyst for change. Founded in 2006, it is now an established national charity that aims to provide a platform for artists who face significant barriers to the art world due to health, disability, social circumstance or isolation.

Outside In’s work covers three main areas: Artist development, exhibitions and training. These activities, supported by fundraising and communications, all aim to create a fairer art world by supporting artists, creating opportunities and influencing arts organisations.

Website: www.outsidein.org.uk Email address: [email protected]

Social media: @outsidein_uk

The Marble Hall at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

About West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

West Dean College is an educational charity whose mission is to provide the highest quality education in arts and conservation. Alongside the academic provision, the College supports an annual programme of residencies designed to provide research and development opportunities to artists whilst enhancing the learning environment of the College.

Website: www.westdean.org.uk/ Social media: @westdeancollege /

PR Enquiries:

West Dean/ Rachel Aked – 07790 732448

Outside In – Matt Forbes-Dale – 07949 039715