West Dean Arts and Craft Festival 2019

Live arts and craft at a unique arts destination.

A weekend bursting with creativity! Get hands-on with drop-in workshops and classes, see live demos, buy unique crafted items, meet the makers and see the work of emerging artists.

  • Get hands-on in a creative workshop and learn a new skill with over 20 workshops each day and nearly 1000 workshop places
  • Watch craft demonstrations from pottery and woodworking to jewellery making
  • NEW Pick up a pencil or a paintbrush and try your hand at drop-in drawing and painting on an easel on the lawn
  • NEW Try tapestry weaving on scaffold poles and make your mark on our collaborative tapestry
  • NEW See Abdollah Nafisi, expert woodworker from the BBC's recent series The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts, and his partner designer Kate Nafisi demonstrating elements of making a Sussex chair
  • Step inside West Dean House, only open once a year, home to Salvador Dalí's iconic Lobster Telephone and the famous Mae West Lips Sofa, both created in collaboration with College founder Edward James
  • Browse and buy handmade items and artworks from outstanding makers and designers
  • Explore the award-winning West Dean Gardens
  • Take a break and listen to live music on the lawn, with a selection of food and drink options

The College continues to inspire generations of artists, makers, designers and writers through the legacy of founder, artist and Surrealist patron Edward James.

View the event map

View the Exhibitor Gallery


Say 'I made that' and try your hand at a new skill under the guidance of one of our expert tutors. With nearly 1000 workshop places on offer throughout the weekend, choose from painting, pottery, printmaking and many more, and discover a new passion.

New workshops for 2019 include Modern brush calligraphy with Kirsten Burke, Satirical cartooning with Private Eye cartoonist, Guy Venables, and Automata with Stephen Guy.

All workshops are 1.5 hours long and all materials are included in the workshop price.

View the hands-on workshops timetable and the children's workshops timetable.

Book your workshop place online now. Online workshop ticket sales will close at midday the day before the workshop, extra tickets are available on the day on a first come, first served basis.

Live Arts and Craft

Chat to a variety of skilled craftspeople about their work and techniques. Watch and enjoy demonstrations in blacksmithing, pottery, jewellery making, printmaking, woodworking and more. Including:

Abdollah Nafisi, expert woodworker from the BBC's recent series The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts, and his partner designer Kate Nafisi will demonstrate elements of making a Sussex chair.

See ceramicist and tutor Frances Doherty throwing her plant inspired pieces on a pottery wheel, before embellishing with unique fine detail.

Feel the heat from hot-forged metal as leading international specialist Peter Parkinson transforms metal into beautiful forms with blacksmithing techniques.

As well as watching demonstrations, you can also join in with a variety of crafts on the Summerhouse Trail.

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, to discover the secrets of the Edward James Archive and Collection. The iconic Lobster Telephone, a collaboration between Salvador Dalí and Edward James will be back on display after travelling to exhibitions across the globe, alongside another Surrealist icon, the famous Mae West Lips Sofa.

Edward James (1907 - 1984), a poet and collector of art, is remembered as "… the greatest English patron of art of the early 20th Century" BBC Arts Online. Particularly for his patronage of the Surrealists. Salvador Dalí, Pavel Tchelitchew, Rene 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.

Inside the House, you will also find exhibitions of work by students, including art installations inspired by James' legacy and the collection, current conservation projects, live music performance in the Oak Hall and readings from Creative Writing students.

Watch the first public screening of Hawaiian Honeymoon, shot by Edward James and Tilly Losch on their honeymoon in 1931. To mark the first public screening of this 35-minute film, West Dean's composer-in-residence, Mary Hampton, has written a new soundtrack, which will premiere with the film.

Children will enjoy spotting the lobsters hidden throughout the State Rooms. Please note: last entry to the house is 4.15pm.

Drop-in Crafts

The Summerhouse Trail

Get hands-on with a variety of crafts in the summerhouses throughout the award-winning gardens.

New for this year pick up a pencil or a paintbrush and try your hand at drop-in drawing and painting on an easel overlooking the surrounding parkland. Simply walk over and join in, all drop-in crafts are free to take part in.

Plus have-a-go at tapestry weaving on scaffold poles and make your mark on our collaborative tapestry with West Dean Tapestry Studio Master Weaver Philip Sanderson. Join artist and sculpture Dan Lobb, who has exhibited at Hampton Court Flower Show and featured on Gardeners World, to contribute to a river-powered kinetic art installation using leaves and twigs.

You can also try origami flowers with Renata Mayumi, embroidery with Emily Peacock, beaded jewellery with Marilyn Phipps, rag-rugging with Debbie Siniska and more.

View the full Summerhouse Trail

Browse 2019 Exhibitors and Demonstrators

Find out more about the quality arts and crafts from handpicked makers and designers that you'll be able to look at or buy at this year's Festival. 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 2019 Exhibitors and Demonstrators

Exhibitions in the House

Student installations

Students from the College's School of Arts present a number of artworks inspired by the life and work of Edward James. Including A Perfect Kind of Order by Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts student Katharine Rabson Stark, which will use the dining table to contest the notion of the self-contained, studio-based artist, disrupting the grandeur of the Edwardian set-dining table to show the reality of how twenty-first century women and mothers work as artists. In the Music Room, Philippa Clarke (Graduate Diploma Visual Arts) will create Pastoral (pictured) using the deconstructed keys and hammers from an old piano, together with a graphic score created using the Surrealist technique of frottage, the work soundlessly echoes the surrounding landscape.

Each day at 11am, there will also be Flash Fiction readings from MA Creative Writing and Publishing students using the main character from their developing novels.

Conservation and Making students present a glimpse into the various approaches to conservation and making, demonstrating the exciting challenges of working with historic objects and craft practices.

Edward James: Record of a Journey explores Edward James as an internationalist. From his education in England and Switzerland, his travels across Europe, North and South America, India and Nepal. Curated by placement students from the University of Sussex the exhibition proposes that James saw beyond national, political, cultural and racial boundaries in the interest of promoting creativity, supporting education, and engendering peace.

Auction of Unique Artworks

Your chance to acquire a unique artwork or handmade craft piece generously donated by one of the talented artists who tutor on West Dean College of Arts and Conservation Short Course programmes. Your purchase will fund bursaries to help aspiring artists and makers join courses they couldn't otherwise afford.

Bid on a one-off piece by established artists including Anne Jackson, Jon Edgar, Maz Jackson and many more. Items include silver jewellery, brooches, silk shawls, charcoal drawings, framed prints, ceramic ornaments and metal and clay sculptures. Make a sealed bid for your favourite piece and know that you've given something special; support for a new and emerging talent.

View auction pieces and bid online. The auction will continue during the festival where all pieces will be on display in the Main Pavilion.

Art in the Gardens

Outside the house, see Opposing Faces, a large outdoor sculpture by MFA student Emma Rimer, inspired by Edward James' undated poem 'Dodechahedron'. As you walk around this large dodecahedron, each pentagonal face captures an image of the landscape, combining views like frames in a strip of film.

In the orchard discover Espaliered by Graduate Diploma Visual Arts student Ruth Glasheen. It uses a variety of traditional and contemporary basketry, weave and tapestry techniques to contemplate the particularities of place, both in detail and in relation to the wider landscape.

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

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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 enter through West Dean Garden's entrance, which is clearly marked from the A286 and our parking team will direct you.

By foot or bicycle: follow the pedestrian signs to West Dean Gardens Visitor Centre where you will be directed to the event entrance. Bicycles may be parked at the bike rack outside the Visitors Centre.

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


What are the opening and closing times? 10am - 5pm. Last entry to the House is at 4.15pm. Last entry to the Festival is at 4.30pm

What food and drink will be available? The Gardens Restaurant will be serving freshly prepared meals, snacks, cakes and drinks. You can also find drinks, snacks, cakes, light lunches from The Art Café on the front lawn. Other food options include Asian curries, noodles and salads from ThaiAngles and hog roast rolls from Foresthogs, as well as ice cream from Caroline's Dairy.

Can I refill my water bottle? Yes, water will be available from two water points located on the front lawn.

Are dogs welcome? Yes, dogs on a short lead are welcome in the gardens and marquees at the event. Only guide dogs are permitted inside the house and in the workshops.

I have pre-booked tickets; do I need to print them? Please have your booking reference with you - either printed or on your phone. If you are a West Dean Garden or College Friend, please ensure you bring your membership card with you. If you have booked a student ticket you will need to show your student ID or NUS card.


There is disabled parking on tarmac and gravel at the Visitors Centre, as well as on grass in a section of the event car park. Please communicate your requirements to the traffic management team and they will direct you accordingly.

The majority of the festival takes place in the Gardens, much of which is accessible from tarmacked footpaths though there are some slopes, steps, gravel paths. Wheelchair access to the House is via a ramp at the west end of the House.


With thanks to Schmincke and Khadi Papers for supporting the West Dean Arts and Craft Festival.