Work by West Dean MFA alumni Cherie Lubbock

Foundation Degree Arts - Musical Instruments 2020 - 2022

Jacob Stirrat

Junior Restorer

What do you consider your biggest achievement to date?

I feel that my biggest achievement so far is being able to make a living and support myself independently doing a job that I love.

Talk us through your career path since graduating.

Currently, I am at the beginning of my career working with stringed instruments. I have only worked at Stringers for 4 months so far, having started there a week after graduating from West Dean. Stringers of London is a stringed instrument retailer with its own workshop for set-up, restoration and repair work. Whilst in my final term studying at West Dean, I met the workshop manager of Stringers at an event in Newark. I was offered a trial, and from that an internship, which I started after graduating. A couple of months into the internship, I was offered a full time contract as a Junior Restorer in the workshop.

What projects are you currently working on?

Day to day, my work involves the general maintenance and set up of violin family instruments. As well as this, I am learning and developing the skills that will allow me to move on to more high end restoration work. In my own time away from the shop, I am working on my first commission sale which I am excited to complete.

Do you have any tips for recent graduates?

Keep the standards you set yourself high and continue to push them. It was a bit of a shock realising the difference in quality and speed between my work as a student and what is expected in professional environments.

How do you think studying at West Dean College prepared you for what you do now?

West Dean gave me a great foundation to build on with my hand skills and knowledge of instrument making. Although it was only a two year course, studying under the tutors there gave me confidence in my abilities as well as a huge base of knowledge for a range of instruments, an understanding of different geographic and historical styles and a range of different construction techniques. I feel that the skills and knowledge I learnt are very unique to West Dean. They are things that would be very hard to acquire to such a high standard had I studied elsewhere. With the course being so practically  based, and there being access to the workshop 7 days a week, I was able to develop my hand skills very fast and the adjustment to full time working hours did not feel like a major step as I was already used to spending long hours in the workshop.

What's your favourite memory from your time at the College?

I made some great friends who I am still very close to from my time at the college. We had a great atmosphere in the workshop, creating a very supportive, friendly environment. Seeing them everyday, and having such beautiful surroundings to explore, have given me many happy memories of the college.

Did you have a different career before coming to West Dean? If so why did you change career paths?

Not really. I had worked in many different jobs in a range of industries but didn’t have a sense of a career. Studying at West Dean allowed me to start my career with stringed instruments.


Find out more about the Foundation Degree Arts – Musical Instruments programme.

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