Festival

West Dean Arts and Craft Festival

Book your tickets online now.

Live arts and craft at the UK's most unique arts destination.

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has inspired generations of artists, makers, designers and writers through the legacy of founder, artist and Surrealist patron Edward James, 'the greatest patron of art of the early 20th century' (BBC Arts Online).

Buy high quality crafts and prints, watch demonstrations and get hands-on in creative workshops and drop-in sessions. Discover West Dean House and view installations from current students and emerging artists alongside the impressive collection of surrealist furniture and paintings.

What's on?

  • Live demonstrations
  • Buy quality arts and craft
  • A rare opportunity to explore inside historic West Dean House and view material from the Collection
  • Art installations
  • Hands-on workshops
  • Drop-in hands-on crafts on the Hut Trail round the Gardens
  • Gardens entry included and tours of Garden sculptures
  • Visit the West Dean Craft Shop (normally only open to students)

Last entry 4.15pm.

Workshops

Try your hand at a new skill and make something to treasure under the guidance of one of our expert tutors.

All workshops are 1.5 hours long and all materials are included in the workshop price. Choose from painting, pottery, printmaking and many more, and discover a new passion.

View the hands-on workshops timetable. Some workshops are already sold out online, and online workshop ticket sales will close at midday the day before the workshop. Limited tickets for each workshop will also be available on the day.

View the children's workshops timetable

Demonstrations

Chat to a variety of skilled craftspeople about their work and techniques and buy their handmade creations. Watch and enjoy demonstrations in blacksmithing, metalworking, glass design, paper cutting, machine embroidery and more.

View the exhibitors and demonstrators gallery

Exhibitors and Demonstrators Gallery

Browse and buy quality arts and crafts from over 50 handpicked makers and designers. You will find one-off artworks and homeware items to furnish your living space, individual jewellery and clothing to suit your style and plenty of unique gift ideas.

View the exhibitors and demonstrators gallery

House Opening

Follow a self-guided route through the Edwardian house and take in the historic state rooms, only open to visitors once a year. Discover the secrets of the Edward James Archive and Collection, including surrealist furniture and paintings by Pavel Tchelitchew and Leonor Fini. Younger visitors will enjoy spotting the footprints hidden throughout the house, inspired by the footprint carpet James commissioned to mimic wife, Tilly Losch's wet footprints on the stairs.

Edward James (1907 - 1984), a poet and collector of art, is particularly remembered for his patronage of the Surrealists. Dalí, Tchelitchew, Magritte and others were given studio space at Edward's homes at West Dean and London. He supported them through commissions and collaborations, building one of the finest collections of Surrealist art in the world.

Find out how a team of conservation students painstakingly reassembled a large Chinese porcelain basin, just one of many conservation projects on view. See demonstrations by our talented FdA Historic Craft Practices students. You can also catch a talk by artists and tutors. View the talk timetable.

Please note: Last entry to the house is 4.15pm. For visitors with restricted mobility only the ground floor is accessible for wheelchair users; this includes the historic state rooms and workshops. Please contact us for more information.

Artist's Installations

Student installations

View installations from college students, including 'Vestiges' a sculpture by MFA student Chérie Lubbock, engaging with the preservation of legacy through the Edward James Archive. Installations also include 'Faust Stoff' a textile piece by Graduate Diploma Visual Arts student Maud Boothby.

Head outside to see 'Painted Paces' by Graduate Diploma Visual Arts student Emma Rimmer on the grounds facing the college, inspired by James' footprint carpet, installation supported by Tim Jasper, masters of the art of kitchen design. In the historic Oak Hall watch 'A Conversation in Steel' a performance piece by MFA student Askild Winkelmann responding to photographs in the archive and conflicting balletic grace against agile fencing.

Emerging artists

Participate in a new sculpture by artist Diana Burch. Featuring and reimagining single-use plastics, the work will be transformed throughout the event. You will also be able to view her work 'Gravitation', made up of unique plastic cells which respond to the movement of their surroundings.

See work by photographer Sam Ivin, whose pictures document social issues through individual stories, with a focus on migration. Sam has been awarded numerous significant photography prizes including the Magnum Photos Graduate Photographers Award, May 2017.

Art in the Gardens

The Hut Trail

Drop in to the huts and follies throughout the gardens and try out a range of crafts. From making a simple bead necklace to your own miniature book, and handmade felt badges and bracelets to monoprinting.

Choose to watch or join-in and try out each craft before going to find the next hut. Be sure to explore the award-winning gardens as you look for each hut, you will see the 300ft Edwardian Pergola and impressive flint bridges in the Spring Garden. Plus look out for the Emergency Poet, the world's only mobile poetic first aid service, to be prescribed with a playful poem, verse or lyric. Find out more about the hut trail

Sculpture Trail

See the newly installed sculptures around the Gardens by artist Eilís O'Connell, in partnership with CASS Sculpture Foundation.

How to get here

West Dean College is located on the A286 just 6 miles north of Chichester and 60 miles south of London.

By car: Please use postcode PO18 0RX and follow the signs to the event car park, parking is free.

By train: The nearest train station is Chichester, with direct services from London Victoria. Connecting buses (Stagecoach number 60) are available from the bus station next to the train station. Alternatively, there is a taxi rank outside. It is just a 10-15 minute journey from the station.

More details on how to find us