Form, function and family – wheel thrown porcelain with Chris Keenan

Ref: S4D29556

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About this course

Learn how to make a group of functional forms that contain a visual narrative. Consider how scale, shape, function and decoration bring a sense of coherence to your work.

Course Description

Functional pots including the handmade and industrially-produced, which do their job well and look good, are always a pleasure to use. The starting point for this porcelain throwing course is an examination of the formal relationships between pieces in a maker's work. How the consideration of scale, shape, function and decoration can bring a sense of coherence to a body of work and make the impact of the group greater than the sum of its individual parts. All of these elements are integral to the development of a maker's voice. You need to be able to confidently centre and throw a porcelain cylinder to enable you join this course.

During the course, with the support and guidance of the tutor, you will devise and work on individual projects making groups of pots that contain a visual narrative utilising the processes of throwing and turning. As you will be working on primarily functional forms there will also be the opportunity to work on handles, lids and spouts. The tutor will be on hand to demonstrate the techniques used in his own practice. In addition to the making there will be the opportunity to discuss various decorative and glazing techniques.

The tutor will provide source material as inspiration and there will be plenty of time for discussion of ideas between the tutor and individual students. At the end of the course all participants will present a selection of work for an informal group review.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • The course fee includes the cost of providing all clay, glazing and firing costs (large work in size and quantity may be charged extra).

What students need to bring

  • Overall/apron
  • Old towel
  • Cardboard boxes and tissue paper/newspaper are useful if taking away raw pots at end of course

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Pottery tools including pottery knife and natural sponge
  • Paper, sketch pad, pencils

Additional information

Firing and glazing options: 1. Leave any raw, finished pieces that you wish to keep, for biscuit firing, basic glazing and re-firing by the College, for collection within six months. 2. Leave raw, finished pieces for biscuit firing at the College. You can then book a place on a Glazing Day and glaze your own work (allowing four weeks for your work to be biscuit fired). This work will be re-fired after glazing and available for collection within six months. 3. Take away your unfired pots for firing and glazing elsewhere. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Chris Keenan lipped bowls credit Michael Harvey

Chris Keenan

Chris has taught at West Dean since 2011 and has been a visiting lecturer at several London colleges and in Freiburg. He trained as Edmund de Waal's first apprentice. Chris' work is thrown porcelain and is held in several museum collections, including the V&A. Chris is a Fellow of the CPA.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.