Press Release: West Dean College of Arts and Conservation announce two new honorary fellowships

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation are delighted to announce that they have awarded two new Honorary Fellowships to coincide with the end of their academic year. This is the second time that West Dean has awarded Fellowships; the Fellows, Lesley Millar MBE and Mark Roberts, are active supporters of the College and eminent in their sphere.

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As Francine Norris, Principal & Deputy Chief Executive, Education at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation commented: “I am delighted that Lesley and Mark have agreed to accept Honorary Fellowships this year. Both have long associations with West Dean and have been influential in supporting the development of the College’s specialisms alongside making significant contributions to their fields. The Fellowships recognise this history as well as providing the basis for future collaborations.”

Lesley Millar, Professor of Textile Culture, Director of the International Textile Research Centre at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), ran her own weave studio for over 20 years before becoming an exhibition curator specialising in textiles. In 2002 she was awarded an AHRB Fellowship to establish an Anglo-Japanese Textile Research Centre at UCA and by 2014 the breadth of the research had developed to include other cultures and the Centre was renamed the International Textile Research Centre. Her work is much concerned with the transition from traditional practice to contemporary outcomes in the crafts generally, and textiles in particular. In 2018 she joined the Board of Trustees of the Crafts Study Centre UCA. She has been responsible for 14 international textile exhibitions since 1996 including ‘Textural Space’ (2001) as part of the nationwide celebration of Japanese culture 'Japan 2002', and most recently, with Alice Kettle, 'Fabric: touch and identity' (2020). Upcoming: 'Tansa - miniature textiles from Japan and UK' Crafts Study Centre (January 2022). She writes regularly about textile practice including co-editing, with Alice Kettle, the book 'Erotic Cloth' Bloomsbury Academic (2018). Upcoming: chapter 'Framed by Textiles' in 'Moving Spaces and Places' Emerald Publishing (Autumn 2021). In 2007 she was given the Japan Society Award for her contribution to Anglo-Japanese relations, followed by an MBE in 2011 for her contribution to Higher Education. In 2015 her EU funded project 'Transparent Boundaries' was nominated for a Times Higher Education prize.

With regards to the Fellowship, she said: “I am delighted and honoured to be associated with the founding philosophy and forward vision of West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. Both my university and West Dean College are specialist creative arts institutions and my hope is that my appointment as Honorary Fellow will strengthen and further develop the already existing connections between West Dean College and the University for the Creative Arts, in particular the Crafts Study Centre.”

She continues: “I first visited West Dean in the early 1970's when I was fortunate to have a placement with the Graffham Weavers and a close friend was studying at West Dean on the Tapestry Course. I have since followed the ground-breaking work of the West Dean Tapestry Studio closely and in fact I have included the personal work of several past and present members and tutors in exhibitions I have organised.”

She finished by saying: “I have a great deal of respect for all who deliver the high level courses at West Dean College, which I was able to judge first hand between 2014 and 2017 as External Examiner for the West Dean College Postgraduate Diploma in Tapestry and Textile Art; and also the Graduate Diploma. In these difficult times for the arts it is so important that we bring our individual voices together to fight for the value of creative education.”

Mark Roberts began excavating on archaeological sites in 1978, over the next five years he worked on sites in Sussex, Essex and the Isle of Man, supervising excavations from 1980. In 1983, he set up and ran the first formal excavation at the Middle Pleistocene site at Boxgrove, which became the focus of his archaeological activity until 2009. Boxgrove is one of the great archaeological sites of the world, containing floors of in situ flintwork and butchered animals from 500,000 years ago; along with what are still, to date, the oldest human remains from the UK. He has been a member of staff at the UCL Institute of Archaeology since 1985. In 2009 after completing the Boxgrove Wider Area Mapping Project, which put the site into a greater regional framework, he was made Tutor for Fieldwork at the Institute and set about recasting and revitalising the first-year field course. This course became intrinsically linked with his taught module Field Methods and Techniques. In addition, he also teaches Archaeological Surveying, Lithic (Stone tool) Studies and the Palaeolithic section of Introduction to European Archaeology. His other roles at UCL are pastoral in that he is the Tutor to the BA students and Tutor for Widening Participation. The latter is a new post and something he is particularly looking forward to developing, as a first-generation university student in his own family. His current project and location of the Field Course is situated within the Earl of Arundel’s deer park at Downley, where he has been working since 2014. Here he has discovered the location of the Tudor hunting lodge and ancillary features, along with a complex of Iron Age and Roman features. Mark has been a winner of the Council for British Archaeological Project of the Year and is a two-time Geological Association Stopes Medallist.

About the Fellowship, he commented: “I was absolutely delighted and honoured to be awarded this Fellowship, which will allow even greater co-operation and joint working between the two colleges, together with the further integration of archaeology with the arts and conservation work for which West Dean is renowned. The area of the West Dean Estate is a diverse archaeological landscape that temporally covers the period from the Old Stone Age up the Second World War. There are also many important historical documents covering the whole of the Medieval period up to the present day, many of which link my current work at Downley to the establishment of Lewknor family at West Dean at the end of the sixteenth century. We have links with the Metal Conservation department, who have helped with some of our corroded iron artefacts, Paper and Book Conservation through work on West Dean’s manuscript archive, together with Tapestry, Ceramics and Fine Art. I am particularly interested in landscape and landscape change through time, within these broad topics a facet that particularly interests me is people’s perception of landscape, both now and in the past, and this is thus a fertile area for interaction with the arts, I have worked with Fine Art student Ruth Glasheen, who produced a wonderful multi-dimensional tapestry of Hat Hill, upon which the lodge at Downley is located. Through Sarah Hughes, Fine Art Subject Tutor and Curatorial Assistant, I have spent time in conversation with artists on residencies at West Dean and will lead a short course on the interaction of landscape, archaeology and art. The research possibilities arising from this Fellowship are myriad and I very much look forward to working with West Dean College.”

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has an international reputation for excellence and is a full partner of the University of Sussex. Students benefit from fully equipped workshops, expert tutors and lecturers, and access to material from the College’s Collection and Archive. For more information on Conservation, Fine Art and Craft Practice study opportunities, see www.westdean.ac.uk. Applications are open now for September 2021 study.

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Notes to Editors:

• West Dean College of Arts and Conservation was founded in 1971 by the poet and Surrealist patron, Edward James, recognised by BBC Arts as the ‘the greatest patron of art of the early 20th century’.
• The College is part of The Edward James Foundation (Charity No. 1126084), also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studio.
• All photography is free to use for editorial purposes.
• West Dean College is situated on the A286, six miles north of Chichester and within easy access of Portsmouth, Guildford, Brighton and London.

For all media enquiries please contact Rachel Aked:
Email: rachel.aked@westdean.org.uk
Telephone: 07790 732448

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ