Visual Arts

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Visual Arts

In a stimulating and supportive environment students specialise in painting and drawing, sculpture, tapestry and textile art, or explore interdisciplinary practice. Students benefit from generous studio space, a broad range of visiting artists and lecturers, excellent workshop facilities, highly skilled technicians, seminars, workshops, individual and group tutorials, critical sessions and self-directed research.

"I found out about West Dean through word of mouth but more people need to know it is here because the facilities are world class and the studio spaces are great compared to most London schools." Lotti Closs, MFA Sculpture student

"The best thing about being here is the ability to expand your ideas. We aren't restricted and we have the freedom to challenge ourselves." Anne Alldread, Postgraduate Diploma Tapestry and Textile student

"I have had the opportunity to experiment with different techniques and my painting has developed and expanded considerably." Pam Ibbotson, MA Visual Arts student

“In a uniquely immersive environment full-time students can dedicate their time to exploring and expanding their work. The College’s emphasis on skills-based making in the context of contemporary practice is rare in arts education." Dr David Stent, Visual Arts Programme Leader

Visual Arts Alumni include Eleanor Buffam, Mariella Baldwin, Steven Thompson, Emma Dexter, Des Kilfeather, Jayne Sandys-Renton, Pippa Blake, Tim Kent.

Graduate Diploma, Visual Arts, one academic year - University of Sussex award

A one-year interdisciplinary programme, validated by the University of Sussex, designed to provide a route into postgraduate study. As a concentrated undergraduate degree, the programme gives graduates of other disciplines the opportunity to transfer their skills to Visual Arts. As they progress through the programme, students can choose to specialise in Painting & Drawing, Sculpture or Tapestry & Textile Art.

Entry requirements
Degree in an art-related subject
Qualification equivalent to a second year of undergraduate study e.g. HNC, HND, DipHE
Foundation Degree in Fine Art or related subject Portfolio including a concise overview of the development and current focus of your practice, including sketchbooks, journals and an example of previous written work
English language, CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level B1 or equivalent.

Postgraduate Diploma, Visual Arts, one academic year - University of Sussex award

The Postgraduate Diploma in Visual Arts* is awarded by the University of Sussex and offers students the opportunity to spend one academic year specialising in a specific discipline or working across different media. Whether focused on the study of Painting and Drawing, Sculpture or Tapestry and Textile Art, the emphasis is on practical, studio-based skills, underpinned by theoretical and contextual studies. Students can undertake collaborative projects, drawing on the expert teaching and facilities across all other programmes of study at West Dean. *Subject to revalidation.

MA, Master of Arts, one calendar year - University of Sussex award

During the successful completion of a Postgraduate Diploma students can extend their studies to a calendar year to gain an MA in Visual Arts. Through a combination of advanced studio-based work, contextual studies and critically reflective research, students will increase the sophistication of their work in preparation for the transition to professional practice.

MFA, Master of Fine Arts, two academic years - University of Sussex award

A two-year full-time programme of study suited to those who want to focus upon specialist studio practice. The first year follows the Postgraduate Diploma in Visual Arts, whilst the second is primarily studio based, with a dissertation completed early in the second term. Whether specialising in one discipline or working across media, MFA students will have time to develop and expand their studio work, bringing in relevant theoretical and historical perspectives.

Entry requirements for the Postgraduate Diploma/MA/MFA
An Honours degree or equivalent qualification in Visual Arts or a related discipline. Relevant work experience in an arts-related field demonstrating your ability to study at postgraduate level Portfolio including evidence of current practical work, sketchbooks and evidence of critical writing. An appropriate level of engagement with current debates in contemporary arts and making. English language, CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) Level B2 or equivalent.

Expert teachers

Programme Leader, Dr David 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, and sonic and sculptural installation. His most recent work has been concerned with 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 in Fine Art from the University of Reading.

Associate Tutors
Philip Sanderson studied at Middlesex University and the Royal College of Art before joining the Professional Tapestry Studio at West Dean College in 1993. As Creative Director of the Studio, Philip has designed tapestries for numerous clients, most famously being 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.

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.

Dr Neil Chapman
is an artist and writer. His work explores material textual practices, questions concerning visuality in art and writing, collaborative method, and the history of these themes. He has a PhD from the University of Reading.

Visiting lecturers
- Rebecca Partridge, Will Shannon, Melanie Smith, Nicolas Feldmeyer, Michael Brennand-Wood, Outpost Gallery, Bouke de Vries, George Charman, Rebecca Salter, Caroline de Lannoy, Caroline Achaintre, James Rigler, Pat Taylor, Sarah Hughes, Andrew Brown and Peter Webster.

External examiners
- Hester Reeve is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University. Lesley Millar, MBE is Professor of Textile Culture at the University of the Creative Arts, Farnham.

To find out more call our Academic Office + 44 (0)1243 818 291. Email us at

How to Find Us

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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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