Press Release: West Dean College of Arts and Conservation appoints new Collections Manager

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation near Chichester, West Sussex is pleased to announce that Hugh Morrison has been appointed as Collections Manager. The West Dean Collection includes Surrealist and Modernist artworks including Dalí’s iconic Mae West Lips sofa and the Lobster Telephone, along with a wealth of furniture, tapestries, paintings, ceramics and other objects associated with the historic house and an extensive and highly significant archive relating to Edward James, the James family, the estate and the College. Hugh has joined West Dean from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) where he worked as Collections Registrar.

As Hugh commented: “I am delighted to be joining the team at West Dean at such an exciting time when work is underway to develop this significant archive and collection and make it more accessible to students, researchers and the public. Curiously it isn’t the first time that I have worked with West Dean College.  In my former job I was fortunate to be involved in The Hunt of the Unicorn tapestry project in which Historic Scotland commissioned West Dean Tapestry Studio to weave a series of seven tapestries to be installed in the palace apartments at Stirling Castle. It was the biggest weaving project undertaken in the UK for 100 years.”

He continues: “My particular interest is developing collections and making them more accessible. This collection offers huge opportunities to be used as a resource for students learning and developing object conservation and fine art skills in the college. Its international significance has a huge potential to be catalogued, digitized and published online to attract researchers from all around the world and this will also help us develop interpretation that will inform and engage future visitors to the College."

He added, “New and exciting discoveries are frequently coming to light as we catalogue and research the collection and archive. Objects around the house are revealing new and surprising insights into their local and international significance and the untold human stories connected with them. The extensive correspondence between Edward James and leading artists of the twentieth century in the archive is providing us with new and rare insights into their creative ideas. It will be exciting to continue developing this collection as a student resource and opening it out for researchers and new audiences visiting the West Dean College."

The Surrealist art collection continues to be in high demand for international exhibitions and Hugh and the collections team are currently busy planning forthcoming loans to the National Portrait Gallery in London and leading museums and galleries in Germany, Spain and Austria.

During his time at Historic Environment Scotland (HES) where he was Collections Registrar, Hugh had a lead role in a team responsible for the care and management of more than 35,000 objects and artworks at 162 historic properties across Scotland. He also managed loans to and from national and international museums, worked with colleagues to research and develop interpretative displays for long term and temporary exhibitions and developed a website to publish the collection online.

Prior to that, he was Assistant Curator at the Stroud District (Cowle) Museum, where he was part of a small team that delivered a Heritage Lottery-funded project to relocate the local district museum to the new Museum in Park – which has since seen annual visitor numbers increase from 2,000 to more than 40,000.

Forthcoming Exhibition Loans:

  • February 16 – August 16, 2020 - Lobster Telephone for Salvador Dali: The Birth of Memory - ARP Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck (Germany)
  • March 12 – June 7, 2020 - Photograph of Edward James by Cecil Beaton and watercolour of Tilly Losch by Cecil Beaton for Cecil Beaton's Bright Young Things - National Portrait Gallery (London)

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’.

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.

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