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Painting and Drawing

Visual Arts Pathways

You can commence your study of Visual Arts at West Dean at a variety of levels appropriate to your qualifications and portfolio. You will be given the freedom and flexibility to cross all three disciplines within your work; Painting & Drawing, Sculpture or Tapestry & Textile Art. Each level of Visual Arts Programme enables students to increase their standard of practical skills, theoretical understanding and professional knowledge and capabilities. Similarly, students on all programmes are expected to develop their approach to studio practice which should become increasingly more independent and to a standard appropriate to their programme of study.

Programme Content

You will develop advanced practical skills in making fine art, paintings and drawings through three integrated and overlapping domains of
study: practical; theoretical and professional. You will also be introduced to theoretical considerations regarding visual culture and the nature
of aesthetics, as these might usefully impinge upon the artist’s practice.Student led, text based seminars, have been devised to lend support to the studio practice as a viable contemporary art. Visiting lecturers work across all subject areas bringing fresh ideas and unexpected perspectives to the creative dialogue.

Programme Delivery

Many of the lectures and seminars are delivered to students at a particular level of study. However, some may be delivered collectively to students studying at different levels, followed-up by programme specific seminars designed to facilitate the development of knowledge and understanding at an appropriate level.Visual Arts students of all levels work together within the same workshop, maximising the opportunity for the sharing of knowledge and stimulation of ideas and creativity. Students are encouraged to work together with students from other Visual Arts disciplines and other Diploma Programmes.

Graduate Diploma Visual Arts (University of Sussex Award)

The Graduate Diploma in Visual Arts is a University of Sussex interdisciplinary one year programme which provides a route into postgraduate study. You can choose to specialise in Painting & Drawing, Sculpture or Tapestry & Textile Art. The programme is designed for students whose practice is not ready to commence postgraduate study but shows the potential to work at that level.

Entry Requirements

A portfolio of work in the visual/applied arts and either a degree in Fine Art or a related subject such as Art History, Art and Design, Architecture, or a qualification equivalent to a second year of undergraduate study e.g. HNC, HND, Dip HE or a Foundation Degree in Fine Art or a related subject.

Postgraduate Diploma (University of Sussex Award)

Postgraduate Diplomas are awarded by the University of Sussex, and offer you the opportunity to spend one academic year studying Painting & Drawing, Sculpture or Tapestry & Textile Art. In all three programmes the emphasis is on practical, studio-based skills,underpinned by sound theoretical study. You are not limited to your chosen specialist area; rather you are given the freedom to undertake interdisciplinary projects, drawing on the expert teaching and provision across all programmes of study at West Dean, including those within conservation and making.

Entry Requirements

A good first degree in an art or design related subject and a portfolio of work or successful completion of the Graduate Diploma in Visual Arts
(University of Sussex) at West Dean.

Professional Development Diploma (West Dean College Award)

Students wishing to carry out a Professional Development Diploma in their chosen subject should have considerable experience in a relevant industry or successful completion of a relevant diploma or degree and the submission of a project proposal and /or research project.

Entry Requirments

The submission of a project proposal and/or research project.

MA Visual Arts/MA Design (University fo Sussex Award)

All Postgraduate Diplomas at West Dean can be transferred into the MA Degree programmes, thereby extending the duration of study from one academic year to a full calendar year.Mid-way through the academic year (February), students on postgraduate programmes commence MA units in addition to the remainder of their Postgraduate Diploma.On successful completion of the full academic year (July), students will have finished their Postgraduate Diploma and completed a significant amount of MA introductory study. In July, students commence their major projects for the MA degree which involve a further 10-week period of full-time study with a final assessment towards the end of September.

Entry Requirements

Candidates registered on any of the postgraduate diplomas in Visual Arts will have fulfilled the entry requirements for the
MA/MFA programmes. Progression to MA will depend upon identifying and agreeing a suitable individual project to be undertaken.
The MFA students will sustain a primary focus upon their studio practice and continue for a second year of study.

For further information about the MA Visual Arts click here

For further information about the MA Design please click here

MFA Fine Art (University of Sussex Award)

The MFA at West Dean is a two-year full-time programme of study validated by the University of Sussex.

The MFA is a development of the postgraduate diplomas in Painting & Drawing, Sculpture and Tapestry & Textile Art and offers an advanced postgraduate provision for those students who wish to sustain a focused emphasis upon their studio practice in order to reach the highest levels of accomplishment. The programme is structured in accordance with the American College Arts Association (CAA) guidelines for MFA degrees, which are regarded in the USA as a requirement for those who wish to teach in art schools. With its emphasis upon studio practice, the West Dean MFA programme integrates the philosophy and theory of contemporary art and investigates the ‘idea’ of making Fine Art through practical, theoretical and professional areas of study. Intensive teaching in a college which is dedicated to the finest standards of the crafts of conservation and making of fine and related visual arts, make this a unique offering in the UK. Successful students will be well equipped with a command of practice and theory enabling an authoritative engagement with the wider public and with other professional practitioners

Entry Requirements

Candidates registered on any of the postgraduate diplomas in Visual Arts will have fulfilled the entry requirements for the MA/MFA programmes. Progression to MA will depend upon identifying and agreeing a suitable individual project to be undertaken. The MFA students will sustain a primary focus upon their studio practice and continue for a second year of study.

Specialist Facilities

Every student is allocated the space and support to develop an independent approach to studio practice. In his lifetime, Edward James’s passion for art manifested itself in the patronage of and collaboration with many artists. Today, those at West Dean are still driven by a passion for the study and creation of new works, which both reinforce and reinterpret traditional techniques. With access to over 300 tutors and an average student to staff ratio of eight to one, West Dean is the ideal environment to explore contemporary art production.

Programme Leader

Dr David Stent

Dr. David R J Stent is an artist, writer, curator and musician. His diverse practice draws on various media including drawing, photography, digital and print publishing, film and video, sonic and sculptural installation. His most recent work has been concerned with the the role of writing in art practice, particularly in association with artists’ publications, relations between image and text, and the use of theory and philosophy in contemporary art. He holds a PhD from The University of Reading.

Visual Arts Programme Leader Pat Taylor

Pat Taylor teaches across all the Visual Arts programmes. Her tapestries hang in institutions in several countries such as The Palace of Westminster, Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and Chicago University in the USA .

Tutor - Dr Carolyn Wilde

Dr Carolyn Wilde originally trained in Fine Art, but until retirement was Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Bristol and has published various articles in philosophical aesthetics.

Associate Tutors

Marcus Rees Roberts

Marcus Rees Roberts has taught at the Slade and was Head of Printmaking at Edinburgh College of Art. He now makes paintings, prints, artists’ books and short films.

Philip Sanderson

Philip Sanderson studied both at Middlesex University and the Royal College of Art before joining Professional Tapestry
Studio at West Dean College in 1993. As Creative Director of the Studio, Philip has designed tapestries for numerous clients,
most famously the New Parliamentary Buildings in Westminster. His tapestry Nr. The Cheesewring was exhibited and sold at
‘Collect’, the premiere fair in Europe for contemporary craft. He joined the teaching staff of the full-time Tapestry and Textile Art
programme in 2011.

MA Visual Arts Tutor

Dr Roger Bown

Having studied at Leeds, Brunel and Cardiff Universities, Roger Bown holds BA, MPhil and PhD degrees. He is a specialist in critical and cultural theory relating to Visual Arts and held senior posts in a number of specialist colleges and universities before joining West Dean as Head of Academic Affairs.


Robert Pulley

Robert Pulley joined West Dean College in 2001 as Pricipal where he continues to practise as a furniture designer and design researcher.

Visiting lecturers

Andrew Brown, Michael Brennand-Wood, Caroline de Lannoy, Paula Haughney, Jacquie Hurst, Tim Kent, Greg Mosse, Barry Page, Jane Patterson, Freya Pocklington, Daniel Preece, Philip Sanderson, Michael Savage, Sandra Smith, Carole Waller and Ben Youngman. Visiting lecturers work across all subject areas bringing fresh ideas and unexpected perspectives to the creative dialogue.

External Examiners

Professor Edward Allington Head of Graduate Sculpture, The Slade. Victoria Brown BA, MA (RCA) Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, University College, Chichester.

Further information about the MFA click here

For student profiles please click here


Application forms and further information on how to apply click here. An admissions panel, including a programme tutor, will consider your application and if you fulfil the entry requirements you will be invited to visit West Dean for a portfolio interview with the programme tutor and another senior member of academic staff.

ENQUIRIES: Telephone: +44 (0)1243 818208 or 811301 Email: diplomas@westdean.org.uk

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West Dean College and Gardens are situated in South East England, six miles north of the historic city of Chichester and 12 miles from the south coast.

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