Press Release: Television inspired creativity is more popular than ever

With 5.6million people watching the Great British Sewing Bee – making it one of the top 10 most watched programmes in the UK, according to BARB, there’s no denying that there’s a resurgence of creative inspiration on TV.

Whether it’s Great Pottery Throw Down (which attracted 2.6million viewers for its final), Grayson’s Art Club, All That Glitters, or the Great British Photography Challenge – the demand for fulfilment through creativity is more popular than ever.

As Alison Baxter, Head of School of Art at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, commented: “We are seeing a rise in interest in crafts and creative TV programmes are more popular than ever – for example the current phenomenal success of the Great British Sewing Bee now attracting almost double the number of viewers in 2021 compared to 2013.”

She goes on to say: “At the start of Lockdown, the Crafts Council issued a report on the Market for Craft stating, “Craft is no longer a peripheral or isolated area of specialist interest: it is now firmly established in the mainstream.” I am sure that it is the case even more since the report was issued, with people looking to learn a new skill or re-engage with crafts learnt as a child.”

The Crafts Council’s report noted: “The growth in the public’s desire for authenticity, for experiences, for ethical and sustainable consumption have helped fuel an interest in making and in handmade objects. Further impetus comes from a concern for wellness and mindfulness, as well as the growing need to switch-off from electronic devices... These trends have driven the success of such popular television programmes.” (p. 5 in report)

It also went on to say "Digital exposure has pushed craft into the mainstream…Craft has also become a mainstay of entertainment television, pushing it firmly into the general public’s radar. As evidence, look no further than the viewing figures for craft-based programmes like The Great British Sewing Bee and The Great Pottery Throw Down." (p.36 in report)

As Leah Nicholls, finalist on Great British Sewing Bee in 2019 commented: “I have always been creative – whether it be for work or as a hobby, starting with painting and being an avid knitter. I took up sewing five years before being on the programme and I went on a sewing short course in London. Being on Sewing Bee was the hardest thing I have ever done, with my mind going blank at the pattern challenges and the intensity of the filming, but it was a wonderful experience and I made friends for life.”

“I was on the first series after Sewing Bee had been taken off TV, there were campaigns wanting it back on TV, and the conversation around the programme – people encouraging their friends and family to watch, almost definitely helped with the renewed interest in craft – I can’t wait to watch the final next week.”

She goes on to say: “I still love to sew, but I am a selfish sewer – creating things for myself, it’s always been a hobby, I love the whole process of going to a shop to choose the fabric and deciding what to create, but ultimately I really enjoy sewing for me.”

For those that would like to Make Time to Make, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has a wide variety of short courses available to all abilities covering a wide variety of crafts including textiles; pottery & ceramics; painting & drawing; jewellery and photography. They span from one to five days and range in price from £128 upwards.

Ten courses to try if you've been inspired by creativity on television:

June 25-27 - Silver stacking rings – jewellery with Laila Smith/ Suitable for all/ £280

July 5 - Vintage style hand-pleated millinery trims with Leanne Frederick/ Suitable for all/ £148

July 9-11 - Digital photography – advance your processing skills with David Clapp/ Advanced/ £271

July 11 – 16 - Abstract painting – finding your voice with Robert Sosner/ Suitable for all/ £612

July 13-15 - Introduction to mixed media – print, draw with Joanna Veevers/ Beginners/ £280

August 20-23 - Mending your clothes: exploring damage and repair with Celia Pym/ Suitable for all/ £381

September 8-10 - Experimental collage with Annabel Tilley/ Suitable for all/ £275

September 10-12 - Sculptural sustainable wood jewellery with Sarah King/ Suitable for all/ £278

September 13 - Practical glazing day with Alison Sandeman/ Suitable for all/ £133

September 16-19 - Digital photography – capturing colour in the garden with Jacqui Hurst/ Beginners/Intermediate/ £397

Other short courses available at West Dean include: gardening; metalsmithing; creative writing; sculpture; woodworking and basketry. The College is a perfect place to escape and recharge, and the courses offer the opportunity to get hands on with arts and craft skills as well as boost your wellbeing in the process. Set in the heart of the South Downs National Park, in a stunning location, the College’s rural setting makes it particularly attractive as more of us take the opportunity to reconnect with and discover the restorative power of the natural environment during the spring, summer and autumn months.

To ensure a safe and welcoming campus, the College has put in place measures operating on a principle of the same as, or better than, national guidelines. This includes social distancing, self-opening doors, less students in workshops, and extensive cleaning and sanitising protocols to protect students and staff. For more details on Social Distancing and COVID-19 measures, please visit https://www.westdean.org.uk/coronavirus

For full details, plus information on accommodation, please visit www.westdean.ac.uk Bookings can be made online or by calling +44 (0)1243 818300.

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation can be found on Social Media: https://twitter.com/westdeancollege
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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’.
• West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has an international reputation and offers a wide selection of short courses a year, as well as part time and full time diploma and degree programmes to Masters level.
• 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.
https://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/documents/880/Market_for_craft_full_report_2020.pdf

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