Press Release: On the wild side, creative short courses 2017

tep out of your comfort zone and learn something a little different from the range of spring and summer short course just released by West Dean College. There are courses from beginners to advanced levels using familiar materials in new and unusual ways. The college offers the opportunity to learn traditional and contemporary arts and crafts in fully-equipped professional studios, guided and inspired by expert tutors who are all practicing professionals with impressive reputations. Experience the unique atmosphere of the college, which is rich in art history as the former home of Edward James, poet and patron of the Surrealist Movement. Students have access to the award-winning West Dean Gardens during their stay and can enjoy walks in the 240-acre parkland and St Roche's Arboretum during breaks in classes.

Learn traditional taxidermy techniques including preserving and reconstruction using wood, wool and thread. Taxidermy for beginners with sculptor and taxidermist, Rose Robson (28 - 30 April, weekend, £260).

Learn how to make jewellery from those little things you love to collect from the beach, the woods and urban finds. Experiment with useful techniques including threading, crocheting, wirework and working with resin to make unique pieces. Wild jewellery - recycle, re-craft with Sarah Drew (7 - 10 May, three days, £349, suitable for all).

Use a contemporary technique that is loose, expressive and breaks all the rules to make clay animals. Learn how to bring life, energy and grace to your work through demonstrations. You will aim to make one sculpture per day with clay sculptor, James Ort. Modelling ceramic animals (7 - 10 May, three days, £374, suitable for all).

Learn how to strip fresh willow bark and combine it with a previously stripped larger piece to create a unique project of your own with your harvest of this versatile, natural material. Willow bark basketry with basketry artist, designer-maker Maggie Smith (5 - 8 June, three days, £359, suitable for all).

Explore the craft of woodcarving and its potential to depict the beauty and vibrancy of the natural world with Alex Jones. Realise your own individual design carved in relief as a decorative panel as you learn about the safe use of hand tools. Wildlife woodcarving in relief (9 - 11 June, weekend, £227, beginners/intermediate).

Learn the basic technique of needlelace making with some simple embroidery stitches to make a bee or insect of your choice to mount onto a brooch. Needlelace embroidery - stitch a bee or butterfly brooch with Fleur Oakes (8 July, one day, £116, beginners/intermediate).

The Visual Arts and Crafts Summer Schools comprise three extended week-long courses each offering a range of subjects, for example:

Week One (29 July - 4 August). Painting trees and woods in oils outside in the arboretum and Kingley Vale woods with landscape painter, Tom Benjamin (£691, suitable for all).

Week Two (5 - 11 August). Experiment with the mediums of lino, dry-point, collograph and monoprint to make unique prints. Hybrid printmaking with Mary Dalton, RCA (£699, suitable for all).

Week Three ( 12 - 18 August). Explore the use of layers in found textiles and papers to create folding forms and objects inspired by the land and landscape. Unfolding landscapes - cloth, paper and stitch with textile artist, Cas Holmes (£731, suitable for all).

The College offers over 700 short courses each year from basketweaving to bobbin lacemaking, and sewing to sculpture. To browse the digital brochure and to book online visit

Special Offer. First time bookings are entitled to a 10% discount on the cost of course fees (telephone bookings only) +44 (0)1243 818300. Gift vouchers of £10, £25, £50 or £100 can be used as full or part payment towards a short course.

The college offers B&B accommodation from £102 per person for two nights (twin occupancy).


Notes to editors

  • West Dean College is part of The Edward James Foundation also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studio. Charity No. 1126084.
  • The college offers over 700 creative short courses each year, as well as a Diplomas and Degrees programmes in the School of Conservation and School of Creative Arts.
  • All photography is free to use for editorial purposes.

Media Contact Information

For further information, high-resolution digital images of filming opportunities contact

Irene Caswell, Senior Media Officer, +44 (0)1243 811301


West Dean College, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ