Press Release: Start from the beginning. West Dean College of Arts and Conservation's range of new short courses are tailored to those who want to try something new

- Almost 60 New Courses to inspire a creative, fulfilled summer -

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has just launched their new programme of arts and crafts short courses for June through to September 2022. It’s been shown that getting creative can work wonders for your metal health and wellbeing, adding to your sense of achievement and fulfilment so the wide variety of courses with expert tutors offer the opportunity to paint, sew, sculpt, garden, forge and nourish your mind. There’s 300+ short courses to choose from including almost 60 brand new courses 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 summer.

Many of the new one-day courses are a perfect taster to a new craft or offer the chance to return to a lost skill. Freestyle enamelling with new tutor Naomi Nevill is a fun way for beginners to explore the many ways you can use opaque vitreous enamels (June 13/ £154), while Blacksmithing introduction with new tutor John Mosse offers an introduction to the techniques and tools required for basic forgework and you will come away with your very own hand forged object (June 11 or June 12/ £151); and Beginners blacksmithing with another new tutor Thomas Gontar will offer the opportunity to learn some basic forging techniques and learn to make a forged item such as a bottle opener or forged toasting fork (August 13 or August 14/ £151). An Introduction to drawing and painting with pattern with Annabel Tilley is suitable for all and focuses on the motifs and patterns found in our everyday environment as a starting point for a series of drawn, painted or collaged abstract or semi-abstract works (June 29/ £141); while Drawing and draping for fashion design with Mark Anstee offers the opportunity to work with a life-model to create experimental fashion design drawings using alternative approaches that put the real body at the centre of the process (July 2/ intermediate/ £148) and Unsticking a stuck artistic practice with Isobel Smith encourages students of all abilities to rediscover their creative mojo (July 3/ £140). For those inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee Christine Chester’s Free machine quilting with monoprint is a beginners course that enables you to learn how to create texture and pattern using the sewing machine (August 30- September 1/ £273).

Hone your gardening skills

Summer is the perfect time to hone your gardening skills and one-day gardening courses include How to prune wall-trained fruit trees with Dr Silvia Travers which includes demonstrations in the West Dean Garden orchard and kitchen garden, and explains how and why we prune wall-trained fruit trees, the different tree forms and shapes and which situation suits each best (September 7/ intermediate/ advanced/ £128); while Setting up a micro-nursery with Sally Gregson, will outline to beginners the pleasures and considerations of running a micro-nursery for profit (September 10/ £128) and Growing and arranging dried flowers with Clare and Tom Brown will explain how to grow dried flowers from seed, harvest and then arrange them into a bunch to dry at home (August 27/ beginners/ £134).

Create lasting memories

Three courses that allow students of all abilities to create lasting memories of loved ones in very different ways include new tutor Amy Dury with Contemporary oil painting from an ancestral photograph which offers the chance to learn how to paint using traditional methods and materials (June 10-12/ £292), while Portraits on the iPad with another new tutor Philip Tyler is an introduction to portrait drawing and painting using Procreate on the iPad (July 8-10/ £271) and Anne Kelly’s Animal portraits in fabric collage and stitch will enable you to make a unique piece of work to celebrate or remember a special pet or animal in your life (September 9-12/ £381).

Be inspired by coast and countryside

With the stunning surroundings of both the South Downs and the coast close-by to West Dean, several new courses focus on these elements. Painting inspired by the solstice with Melanie Rose is an experimental painting course on the day of the summer solstice, which focuses on five Bronze Age bell barrows, called the Devil’s Jumps, that align to the setting sun (June 20-24/ intermediate/ advanced/ £502), while Coastal landscape painting with George Popesco is suitable for all and will capture the characteristics of the land, coastline and sky by evolving preparatory sketches to complete paintings back in the studio (June 12-16/ £502) and Coastal photography with Roy Matthews encourages intermediate photographers to discover the photographic potential of the local Sussex coast and coastal towns combining both seascapes and the urban landscapes (September 22-25/ £397). Drawing and painting the West Dean landscape with Robert A Newell is an intermediate course that enhances your perception of the landscape through observational drawing and painting (July 14-17/ £384).

Also of note is Sketching the living world with Maxine Relton which aims to improve your drawing fluency while engaging more closely with the living world by learning to respond rapidly to a variety of ever-changing subjects such as animals, birds, trees, and insects (June 6-9/ suitable for all/ £401) and Painting inspired by Goldsworthy’s chalk stone walk, also with Melanie Rose is a contemporary painting course that is inspired by walking Andy Goldsworthy’s 5-mile chalk stone trail. The slow acts of walking, drawing and painting ‘en plein air’, will inspire and influence final artworks made in the studio (August 18-21/ intermediate/ advanced/ £383). Courses focussing on the award-winning West Dean Gardens include Botanical drawing in coloured pencil – summer splendour with Susan Christopher-Coulson which gives the opportunity to capture the lively colour and forms of summer fruits, flowers or vegetables (July 7-10/ beginners/ intermediate/ £381), while Botanical drawing – pushing the boundaries with Ann Swan challenges students to create eye-catching contemporary botanical compositions with coloured pencils (September 25-28/ intermediate/ advanced/ £381) and Millinery flower making – dahlias with Anne Tomlin, which is suitable for all, offers the opportunity to make a realistic silk dahlia using traditional flower-making tools (September 2-4/ £270).

Try a traditional skill

Several long weekend courses focus on traditional crafts including Willow basket making with new tutor Jenny Crisp, which will result in intermediate students completing one or two, small scale baskets (June 5-8/ £397), while Textile basketry – twined tubes and vessels with Mary Crabb teaches students how to twine, working around a tubular mould to create tubes and vessels and will focus on form, surface textures and details (June 24-26/ beginners/ intermediate/ £289) and Sue Kirk’s intermediate course on Large scale asymmetric baskets is focussed on two days weaving with a variety of coloured willows, inspired by Polish Basketmaker Stanislaw Dziubak (September 23-25/ £280). Another new course that is suitable for all is Sculptural textile basketry – freeform wrapping and coiling with Mary Crabb which will focus on the techniques of coiling and wrapping using. the three-dimensional off loom work of Tadek Beutlich, as a source of inspiration (September 26 – 30/ £555).

For fans of Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker and those keen to fine tune their furniture skills new furniture and woodworking courses include two courses with new tutor Jason Breach Woodturning basics – spindles, boxes and bowls teaches the basics of how to use a woodlathe (July 7-10 & August 30- September 2/ beginners/ £425) and Turned wooden boxes shows the basics of how to make turned wooden boxes, from the timber selection, tools, and sharpening, to design ideas and different shapes (September 2-4/ beginners/ intermediates/ £297) and Furniture making skills – a simple cricket table with Derek Jones explains the key principles for building a cricket table (June 2-5/ suitable for all/ £452).

Ceramics and glass courses are always hugely popular and Lids, handles and spouts – thrown functional-ware with Louisa Taylor has been created for intermediate students who can already adequately throw a cylinder on the pottery wheel, this course aims to develop your throwing skills to gain experience with making suitable lids, handles and spouts for your thrown forms (June 24-27/ £427) and Upcycling for glass engravers with Tracey Sheppard looks at more imaginative and creative uses for glass otherwise destined for the bottle bank or dustbin and will combine sandblasting, engraving and carving techniques (August 12-14/ intermediate/ £260), while Coiling for pots or sculpture with Jo Taylor explores coiling as a handbuilding method to create pots or sculpture and decorate your works using sprigs (small decorative clay additions) and a range of slip decorating (August 29-September 1/ beginners/intermediates/ £427). New tutor Sasha Wardell’s Enhancing translucency working with bone china is an introduction to working with bone china through simple mould making techniques and decorating processes aimed at enhancing the translucent qualities of this seductive material (September 26-29/ intermediate/ advanced/ £427).

Jewellery, silver and metal courses include Traditional enamelling with new tutor Naomi Nevill which offers the chance for beginners and intermediate students to learn how to enamel onto copper and silver using transparent enamels to create a wearable, enamel pendant (June 9-12/ £421), while Jewellery using mixed metals and stones with new tutor Laura Ngyou will combine metals and learn basic stone-setting techniques (August 18-21/ intermediate/ £396) and Making chains with new tutor Lucie Gledhill focuses on chain patterns including loop-in-loop chain, rope chain and curb chain (July 15-17/ suitable for all/ £270). Handle with care – combining metal and wood with Grant McCaig is aimed at those with some experience of small-working or silversmithing (July 17-20/ intermediate/ £421) and Graham Ashford’s Medieval armouring – the15th century Italian breastplate will show how to form a mid 15th century Italian style breastplate (September 4-9/ intermediate/ £772).

Among the new textiles courses are two that are suitable for all abilities – Painting - floral pattern on calico and linen with Sarah Campbell will encourage you to explore hand-painting flowers onto textiles using heat-fix paints and inks (June 17-20/£411) and Poetry of stitch – mark-making with the sewing machine with Christine Chester offers the opportunity to extend your repertoire of stitches as you explore ways of machine stitching that will extend your language of marks (July 18-21/ £399). Other courses include Felt making – exploring colour, subtle texture and surface with Jeanette Appleton which explores different methods of colour mixing and manipulating wool tops during the felt process to create subtle textures and surfaces (July14-17/ beginners/ intermediate/ £384).

New painting and drawing courses include Colour drawing with mixed media with Christabel Forbes allows you to hone your observational skills and dare to use colour more creatively using mixed media (June 24-27/ beginners/ intermediate/ £413) and Painting contemporary still life – colour and space with Heather Gray-Newton refreshes your view on approaching still life subject matter, transforming the ordinary to something more extraordinary, through colour knowledge and choice, and spacial ambiguity (August 28-30/ suitable for all/ £280).

Take inspiration from travel

Whether you are planning a summer trip abroad or staying home, be inspired by overseas travel with a variety of courses, such as, Chinese brush painting - Shanghai – pearl of the Orient with Julia Martin which offers the chance to learn the fascinating techniques of Chinese brush painting while painting scenes that showcase the enchantment of Shanghai (June 26-30/ suitable for all/ £493); The magic of Mexico expressed through watercolour with Hilary Simon explores the magic that West Dean College’s founder, Edward James, created at ‘Las Pozas’ – his exotic folly, deep in the jungle in Mexico (August 26-28/ intermediate/advanced £297); Rob Jones’ Introduction to Kogin Sashiko Embroidery is a one-day course for beginners that offers the opportunity to learn the ancient craft by using Japanese open weave fabric (June 3/ £148) and Mokulito printmaking with Mary Dalton introduces you to the principles of Mokulito printmaking, or lithography on wood to create unique, dynamic prints (August 18-21/ beginners/ intermediate/ £421).

Three new sculpture courses which are all suitable for all abilities include Stone carving – animals with new tutor Patricia Barker, which offers the chance to carve an animal of your choice in soft Maltese limestone (August 21-25/ £562), while Rodin inspired casting and stone carving with Paula Haughney encourages students to cast hands, feet and faces in plaster to use for reference or as a starting point for your own sculpture carved in stone (September 18-23/ £622) and Wax sculpting for lost-wax casting with new tutor Abigail Burt offers an introduction to the art of lost-wax casting, during which you will learn how to sculpt with natural wax and create items of your choice (July 8-11/ £410).

Other new courses include Creative writing – plan a novel Rebecca Horsfall, which offers the chance to plan your novel in an intensive weekend workshop (August 19-21/ suitable for all/ £260); while Music appreciation – Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte with Roy Stratford allows students to immerse themselves in three of the greatest operas: The Marriage of Figaro, Cosi Fan Tutti and Don Giovanni (September 23-25/ suitable for all/ £270) and Creative in-camera techniques – digital photography with Roy Matthews explores alternative techniques available to the photographer which can be achieved at the point of taking the photograph and with little or no post processing/editing required (June 10-12/ intermediate/ £271) and Bookbinding – a hard bound journal binding with slip case with new tutor Mark Cockram is an introduction to hand making your own hard bound journal or sketchbook, with protective slip case (August 28-30/ beginners/ £285).

To ensure a safe and welcoming campus, the College has put in place measures operating on a principle of the same as, or better than, national guidelines. This includes social distancing, self-opening doors, and extensive cleaning and sanitising protocols to protect students and staff. For more details on Social Distancing and COVID-19 measures, please visit

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.


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

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