Accidental artist

Sue Cooper is a management consultant who came to West Dean College on a puppet-making short course. Sue went on to study on the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, or FDAD.

Sue offered to paint a mandala - a circular spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions - for the chemotherapy ward of the Morris Hospital to cheer up one of eight blank wall panels. She chose a phoenix as a suitable subject for the environment which was 'humblingly well received by staff, patients and consultants' and went to on complete the remaining seven panels.

Recently, Sue was asked to paint a further 13 panels for the waiting area outside the chemo unit as patients felt they needed something interesting to look at there too. There's also a potential to produce work for the blood test area (another 14 panels).

Sue says " I seem to have become a working artist by accident! I'm learning such a lot with this project. I love the anarchic, 'street art' element of it. We've not asked anyone's permission. I make what I like and install them myself. It's like having my own little gallery. For phase two of the 'great mandala project' I am really going to push myself creatively and try to make the panels interactive in some way. I may also move into sculpture.

Above all, I am starting to find my direction as an artist, creating lively, intriguing art and giving it to people who really need it. As well as developing my skills, the FDAD has been amazingly helpful in giving me the push and confidence to get out there and do my stuff".

The FDAD at West Dean College offers guidance and instruction by highly qualified, specialist tutors. Students develop a rich and varied portfolio of work, ensuring that this reflects their areas of interest and talents, to focus on future career aspirations. The Diploma is awarded when 10 short courses are successfully completed, together with a 2,000 word essay, which clearly demonstrates a link between experiences on the course and intended next steps. The course is programmed three times a year. Short Courses are drawn from Drawing, Painting and Printmaking. courses can be taken in any order but must normally be completed within a two year period, including submission of the final essay.

Thanks to the support of an individual donor a FDAD bursary is available at West Dean College. If you are aged between 18 and 30 and you would like to complete the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design but are unable to afford the full fee contact alison.baxter@westdean.org.uk for more information.

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