Making ceramics inspired by West Dean with Jo Taylor

Ref: SSS29701

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Places available

About this course

Make a group of ceramics to decorate using the architecture, interiors, flora and fauna or landscape surrounding the College to inspire your pieces. You will be free to experiment with throwing, coiling or press moulding techniques, then choose which method of making suits you best to create pieces for the table or garden.

Course Description

Suitable for beginners or those wishing to build on existing skills, this course uses the beautiful house and gardens surrounding the College to provide inspiration in the full bloom of summer. During the week you will make a group of works and decorate them using the architecture, interiors, flora and fauna or landscape to inspire you.

With options for throwing, coiling and press moulding, you will be able to experiment and choose the making technique which suits you best for your main project. The aim is to create forms with a large, clear surface to act as a canvas for the decorating stage; examples would be pots, plates or dishes, which will be suitable for use on the table or in the garden, or as a decorative piece in the home.

During time set aside for exploring the house and grounds, you will record what inspires you through photographs and sketches to use as a start point when considering decoration for your pieces. Sketching in this instance is for gathering information and working through ideas rather than a finished drawing – no previous skills are required.

Using coloured slips and sprigs there will be plenty of time to create delicious surfaces on the work made, which will be clear glazed and fired to a high temperature making it suitable for use in the dishwasher, microwave or garden.

The course timetable consists of over three days of making, time for sketching and a day and a half for decorating, with plenty of flexibility to suit the individual. There is full tutor support throughout the making and design process, with demonstrations and friendly advice whenever needed.

Summer School highlights:

The Summer School week is an immersive learning experience with more time to develop your creativity and embrace opportunities for creative development beyond your chosen course. A detailed timetable for your Summer School week will be given to you on arrival. This will include:

• Short inspirational talks by tutors and displays of their work

• A short creative experience session in another discipline/media or course

• An optional evening at the Chichester Festival Theatre (if pre-booked)

• An optional lunchtime tour of West Dean Gardens, the historic rooms at West Dean College, or West Dean Tapestry Studio

• A celebration dinner on the last evening themed on Impressionism, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first Impressionist exhibition held in Paris in 1874. Feel free to respond to the theme if you wish.

• Informal end-of-course group reviews and displays of students' work in studios

As evening events are planned as part of the Summer School week, dinner is included in the course fee to enable all students, including non-residents, to participate fully.


Timetable for Summer Schools

Several evening events are planned throughout the week, a detailed timetable for the summer schools will be given to you on arrival.

Arrival Day

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).

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 should vacate their rooms by 10am please.

Course Materials


  • On this course the College will supply all of the materials including clay and slip.
  • The cost of clay/glazing materials and firing costs of work made – large work in size and quantity may be charged extra.

What students need to bring

  • An apron, or several for the course of the week
  • A sketchbook or notebook of any size plus pen or pencil or any material you prefer – alternatively all can be bought from the College Craft Shop

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Sketchbooks and sketching materials

Additional information

Firing And Glazing Options: 1. Leave selected raw, finished pieces, which you wish to keep, for biscuit firing, basic clear glazing and re-firing by the College, for collection within six months. 2. 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). Possible equipment restrictions in tutor absence.


Jo Taylor portrait

Jo Taylor

Jo studied at Bath Spa University gaining Ceramics BA, MA & teacher training qualifications. An experienced tutor, Jo regularly teaches from beginners to MA students. A member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors, her work is exhibited internationally in shows such as COLLECT at the Saatchi gallery.


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.