Press Release: West Dean College of Arts and Conservation announces first Composer-in-Residence

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation announces Mary Hampton as the first ever Composer-in-Residence at the College. Throughout the year, Hampton will be curating Salon Imaginaire, a series of seven concerts at the College.

Hampton, a composer, lyricist, musician and singer, will be deferring her studies at West Dean for two years to pursue this opportunity.

Speaking about the Composer-in-Residence opportunity, Hampton says "I'm honoured to have been selected the first ever Composer-in-Residence at West Dean College and I'm looking forward to developing new work in response to the College's vibrant cultural heart."

Hampton's first performance as West Dean's Composer-in-Residence will be at Salon Imaginaire #1 on the 12th of October. The live concert, the first in a series of seven, will be held in West Dean's historic wood panelled Oak Hall and features performances by four mesmerising musicians and composers. The event is supported by the PRS Foundation and will be introduced by Matthew Scott - former Head of Music at the National Theatre.

Hampton says: "I am especially looking forward to curating the Salon Imaginaire series. It's a unique chance to draw on Edward James's cultural legacy; his enthusiasm for bringing together experimental approaches and facilitating collaborations, and a great opportunity to trace the ongoing journey of Surrealist ideas through the work of music-makers at work today. Salon Imaginaire is a fresh space for collaboration and performance from some of the most talented and interesting acts operating on the UK music scene and I can't wait to be involved."

Described by The Times as "…very unusual, and proof that if you want to make art, you just have to ignore debilitating forces and get on with it", Hampton's own practise is grounded in folk song and turn-of-the-century chamber music traditions. She sets these influences alongside her own compositions to draw out the dynamic tensions between the past and the present, and the ordinary and extraordinary.

Hampton was a recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Composition in 2017 which recognises the talent, tenacity and achievement of artists and musicians by providing three years of funding to support their practise. The award has allowed her to undertake this significant opportunity at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation.

The College's inaugural Composer-in-Residence programme provides musicians with the opportunity to research, reflect and experiment in order to develop the possibilities of their own practice. The Composer-in-Residence will enrich the learning environment for the College's arts and conservation students.

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Notes to Editors

Mary Hampton was born in 1977 in London. She now lives in Brighton. Her recordings include EPs 'Book One' (2005) and 'Book Two' (2007), and LPs called 'My Mother's Children' (Navigator 2008) and 'Folly' (Teaspoon 2011).

For more information about Mary Hampton please visit:

Mary's work is supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award.

PRS Foundation

Salon Imaginaire is supported by PRS Foundation's The Open Fund. PRS Foundation invest in the future of music by supporting talent development and new music across the UK; enabling songwriters and composers of all backgrounds to realise their potential and reach audiences across the world.


Salon Imaginaire Series

Inspired by West Dean College of Arts and Conservation's founder Edward James' contribution to art and music, the seven-part Salon Imaginaire series will run throughout 2018-2019, tracing the creative lineage between artists he supported during his lifetime, and some of the imaginative worlds created by music makers at work today.

Salon Imaginaire is supported by PRS Foundation's The Open Fund.

Salon Imaginaire #1 The Oak Hall, West Dean College, 12th of October 2018 8-10pm

Performing at this event are Mary Hampton, Guitarist C. Joynes, Terence Allbright, and Angela Zanders. This is a Pay What You Decide event.

Salon Imaginaire #2 The Old Library, West Dean College, 9th November 2018 8-10pm

This live concert features performances by some of the most imaginative music makers working today. Collectress are a quartet whose collective ethos, aesthetic and approach is inspired and informed by the practices which complement their performing lives: visual art, composition for film and TV, dance for camera, music informatics and free improvisation. Sonic Pleasure is famed for her unique crafting of sound from bricks and masonry, reducing much of her instrumentation to dust by the end of a concert. This is a Pay What You Decide event.

Future Salon Imaginaire Events

  • 13th December 2018
  • 31st January 2019
  • 28th February 2019
  • 28th March 2019
  • 9th May 2019

Pay What You Decide works by enabling audiences to attend shows without paying for a ticket beforehand, but tickets can be reserved prior to a performance. Then on exiting the show, you have the opportunity to pay what you decide you want to, or can afford to, based on your overall enjoyment of the performance. Suggested price bands are £5 and £10. Please ensure you have arrived and collected your tickets 15 minutes before the show starts in order to secure your seats. At the end of the show, you can decide what to pay, by cash on the door.

For press requests, contact Annie McGrath or Ella Baker: +44 (0)207 439 2822.