Ceramic animal sculpture with Jack Durling

Ref: SLW33231

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About this course

Learn how to make hollow three-dimensional animal sculptures from slabs of clay in combination with coiling techniques and armatures . Working from your source images, learn how to capture the essence of your animal and give your work a feeling of expression, movement and character.

Course Description

In this course you will be taught how to create a hollow formed animal sculpture using slabs of clay, along with coiling and modelling techniques. The tutor will demonstrate techniques to make a three-dimensional sculpture, which you can then apply individually or in combination to create your own sculptural animal. This course is ideal for individuals with prior experience working with clay who are interested in exploring new approaches to sculpting.

Initially, you will observe the tutor's demonstration and replicate the process to familiarize yourself with the technique for making freestanding, portraiture and wall-mountable pieces. Subsequently, you will commence work on your own unique piece. Each participant will receive personalized guidance based on the specific animal they have selected to sculpt.

Participants are encouraged to choose an animal of their choice, such as rhinos, elephants, primates, hares, pets, or farm animals. It is recommended that you bring along detailed visual references, including photographs, drawings, and sketches of your chosen animal. During the first session, you will be encouraged to create some basic expressive sketches and maquettes following the guidance of your tutor. Familiarity with the animal's skeletal structure, as well as various perspectives (front, rear, and overhead views), will greatly enhance the final outcome.

The primary goal is to capture the essence of the animal and imbue the sculpture with a sense of individual character, expression and movement. By the end of the course, you should feel proficient in the technique and capable of adapting it to inform your future projects.

You will have the opportunity to work with a suitable handbuilding white clay chosen for its exceptional strength in the early stages of sculpting. The hollow nature of the sculpture allows for internal shaping if needed, reducing the need for extensive hollowing out.

On the last day, you will have one or two complete sculptures and the tutor will teach basic coloured slip decoration techniques that participants can use to enhance the aesthetic appeal of their sculptures, though is optional. Alternatively, you may take your work away for firing, and further decorate elsewhere.


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


  • All clay and firing if work is left at the College for biscuit firing.
  • (Large work in size and quantity may be charged extra.)

What students need to bring

  • Images, photographs, drawings, sketches, etc. of the animal you have chosen to make. Knowledge of the skeletal structure of the animal will be of a great advantage, and views from both sides: front and rear and from above, wherever possible, will enable a good outcome.
  • Any modelling tools you have, fine tools are especially useful (marked with your name)
  • An apron and covered non-slip footwear.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good selection of art materials, sketchbooks
  • Modelling tools

Additional information

Firing and Glazing Options: 1. Leave any raw, finished pieces that you wish to keep for biscuit firing by the College, for collection within six months. 2. Take away your unfired sculpture for firing and underglazing elsewhere. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Jack Durling

Jack Durling is a ceramic animal sculptor based in Brighton. He studied at Brighton University in 2014 and has run workshops with Blind Veterans UK and several educational facilities. He is currently working with Maidstone Borough Council to create a permanent public sculpture and is a David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation shortlisted wildlife artist in 2022.


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.