50th anniversary online exhibition

Welcome to our 50th anniversary online exhibition

To celebrate our 50th anniversary we invited everyone who has studied at West Dean College to share their experience of learning here through a single image and short description. We are thrilled to present over 140 varied and personal responses which we are immensely proud to have contributed to.

Don't forget if you're visiting West Dean Gardens you can see the exhibition in print displayed in our glasshouses in the Walled Garden. Read more

Plaster fill before retouching.

I will never forget this object because it was my very first life object during my graduate year of Conservation of Ceramics and Related Materials. The neck area had broken into 5 shards and there was an area of loss. After reattaching the shards I moulded the plaster fill, which was challenging because there was a relief and the dots and lines of the fill had to match exactly. This photo was taken before retouching. The course was wonderful and I learned so much! Now I am a conservator of glass and ceramics.

Adelheid Hansen, conservator of glass and ceramics | © Adelheid Hansen 2021

Ephemeral sculpture: sphere made from cleavers. Made for the final assignment on the Diploma in Art and Contemporary Craft.

After a couple of short courses at West Dean I completed the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (FDAD), followed by the Diploma in Art and Contemporary Craft (DACC). The breadth of tutor knowledge, excellent facilities, and wide choice of courses helped me to find a personal creative direction and give me the confidence to trust myself. I have now been accepted for an MA at Dartington Art School focussing on artist residencies, and the support and encouragement from the tutors at West Dean have made that possible. It has been a privilege to study at the college.

Alison Jackson-Bass, mixed media artist | © Alison Jackson-Bass 2020

Monarch's Way

The Monarch’s Way is one of the longest of all English footpaths and part of it goes through Kingley Vale, near West Dean. This I discovered in March 2009, on day one of Merlyn Chesterman and Rod Nelson's woodblock printmaking course. Over the years, an idea took shape: to try to capture the ancient trees’ magnificence in harmony with the modest, shimmering, wayside flora. It was a large print to make by hand (in an edition of 4). West Dean technicians cut out the larger block areas, as I experimented wilfully with muted colours and contrast.

Anita McCullough | © Anita McCullough

Devore scarf: the magic of transformation

I have always loved velvet and the opportunity to transform it was irresistible! We arrived at the College to see rolls of white velvet and left with beautiful, wearable items which have been admired and greeted with incredulity ever since. I have continued to screen print and dye as a life long adventure; inspired by a week at West Dean many years ago!

Ann Warren | © Ann Warren

Fuchsia - watercolour

A throwaway comment to a friend “I wish I could paint” was the catalyst for a journey I never imagined I would undertake. Instantly I was armed with her travel paints, instructions to buy paper and return from my forthcoming holiday with at least one painting before booking myself onto a course at West Dean College! Beginners' drawing and water colouring followed, and a Botanical Painting taster day resulted in a fuchsia I was rather proud of as I approached 60. My message - It's never too late, wonderful tutors inspire you to discover creative ability you never dreamt existed.

Anne Arnold | © Anne Arnold 2021
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