Free warp tapestry – exploring the legacy of Tadek Beutlich with Tim Johnson

Ref: S4D29850

About this course

Work with colour, form and texture as you explore creative freedom with fibres inspired by the 'free warp tapestry' techniques of Polish fibre artist Tadek Beutlich that Tim researched during his residency at West Dean during the summer of 2022.

Course Description

In the later years of Polish fibre artist Tadek Beutlich's career he improvised and innovated upon his extensive knowledge of traditional tapestry techniques. Drawing on his life's experiences and looking to nature's details he created a distinctive and colourful world of fibre art that provided endless creative possibilities.

During the summer of 2022 Tim Johnson undertook a research residency at West Dean College exploring Tadek's unpublished manuscript 'The Techniques of Free Warp Tapestry'. During this workshop you will gather inspiration directly from natural forms observed in West Dean Gardens, using drawing and/or photography as collecting tools. These inspirations will then provide the starting point for free explorations with Tadek's free warp tapestry techniques. Possible outcomes may include wall pieces, vessels, installations and fibre sculptures.

Using beaten esparto grass, sisal and rush in combination with locally found natural materials and a wide variety of colourful threads, yarns and strings you will wrap, bind and weave your own creative fibre realm rooted both in nature and tradition.


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 College will supply chair rush for use by the group.
  • The additional threads supplied by the tutor need to be reimbursed to him directly – see below.

What students need to bring

  • Finer scissors, larger ones provided
  • Any sewing tools that you like to use
  • Sketchpad and or camera – to gather inspiration from natural forms in the gardens
  • Coloured pencils, Sharpie pens etc if you have them
  • A range of threads, yarns, strings, wool etc to use in addition to those that Tim will bring.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Needles, scissors, some basket making tools
  • Sketchpads, drawing equipment
  • Available from tutor:
  • The tutor will supply a range of yarns and threads plus other natural fibres, esparto etc. the cost of £10 should be paid to him during the course.

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Tim Johnson

Over the past 25 years, artist and basketmaker Tim Johnson has explored the relationships of material, place, nature and culture. His diverse creative practice encompasses basketmaking and performance, photography and painting, sculpture and installation, textiles and costume, his work has been exhibited internationally.


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

Courses of interest

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.