School of Arts

A centre of excellence and creative possibility

Be challenged and exposed to a stimulating mix of ideas and knowledge in the immersive environment of the School of Arts. Study options range from short courses from beginner to advanced, to Foundation Diploma, MA and MFA.

The School has a strong practical as well as academic focus. Those on a full-time programme will develop advanced making and craft skills appropriate to their discipline and undertake original theoretical and contextual research to inform practice. Short course students will learn new skills and techniques or nurture existing talents.

The vision of founder and Surrealist patron Edward James connects today's students with a rich heritage of art. Students have the opportunity to engage with site-specific subjects, individual objects or references to the College's history relating to Edward James, surrealism and beyond.


Visual Arts Student Facilities at West Dean College

Study in fully equipped workshops and studios, with plenty of natural light and your own dedicated workspace. All students have access to the specialist Arts and Conservation Library and the computer suite, each subject area then has specialist facilities and equipment.

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Visual Arts Summer Show 2018 'Angel Cake'

The Visual Arts Summer Shows for 2018, taking place first at West Dean and then in London. The exhibitions showcase the work of students graduating from the full-time Visual Arts programmes, including Graduate Diploma and Master's degrees, as well as interim exhibitions by first year MFA students. Find out more

View some of the work exhibited at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation Visual Arts students Summer Show 2018 'Angel Cake'.

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Student Case Studies

Student on the Making Musical Instrument Course

Hear from current and past students on their experiences at West Dean College.

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Tapestry Studio

West Dean Tapestry Studio is one of the only professional tapestry studios in the UK.

It specialises in contemporary design and weaving using heritage techniques. The studio is known for its strong interpretive skills and artistic vision. Tracey Emin, Martin Creed and Henry Moore are among the artists our weavers have worked with.

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Artist-in-Residence Open Call with the De La Warr Pavilion

To mark the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, De La Warr Pavilion and West Dean College of Arts and Conservation announce a collaborative Open Call to provide an exceptional artist with the opportunity to undertake a residency at West Dean College leading to a solo exhibition in the De La Warr Pavilion's First Floor Gallery in Autumn 2019.

From its avant-garde, arts and crafts beginnings to its radical approach to uniting art, technology and everyday life, the Bauhaus is one of the most important, influential art schools of the twentieth century. It produced radical new experiments in pedagogy, performance, film, photography, architecture and design.

Applications are encourage from artists with at least two years exhibiting experience and whose interests align with, or speak to, the Bauhaus (established or lesser known), its origins, methodologies, and how Bauhaus may remain useful today.

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Visual Arts Summer Show 2017 West Dean College

Visual Arts Blog

Delve into Visual Arts department news, events and student and staff work on the Visual Arts blog.

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School of Arts Degrees & Diplomas

Full-time Visual Arts programmes

The full-time accredited Visual Arts programme allows you to specialise in Painting and Drawing, Sculpture or Tapestry and Textile Art.

You can gain your Graduate Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma, MA or MFA. The large dedicated studios and access to art and craft short courses emphasise practical, studio-based skills, underpinned by theoretical research and contextual studies. The programme also involves making use of the historic West Dean House and extensive grounds to explore site-specific work.

FdA Historic Craft Practices

A practice-led Foundation degree encompasses making with the option to develop basic skills in conservation and repair. You will have the opportunity to develop high level practical craftsmanship skills, with a specialist heritage crafts and conservation environment. Students specialise in Clocks, Furniture, Metalwork or Musical Instruments.

MA Creative Writing and Publishing

Study part-time over two years to gain your MA. For committed writers the course offers immersive study in an inspiring setting and tuition from published authors.

Art and Craft Short Courses

Choose from over 700 short courses at West Dean College. Day, week and weekend courses are all taught by practising professionals. Gain hands-on experience and creative inspiration in a wide variety of art and craft subjects, ideal for both beginners and more experienced artists and makers. If you are looking to develop a strong portfolio of work, our Foundation Degree in Art and Design will prepare you to apply for an Art and Design related degree. The Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts is a two year part-time programme delivered through intensive study blocks. The programme is focused on developing skills essential to the successful development of a sustainable studio practice, both practical and contextual.

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Enriching the creative learning environment of the College, the Artist-in-Residence programme sees a series of professional artists living and working onsite, amongst Visual Arts students. They offer tutorial sessions with students as well as public presentations on the work produced during the residency and their wider practice.

Artist-in-Residence, leading sculptor Eva Rothschild, is collaborating with our tutor and master weaver Phil Sanderson at the West Dean Tapestry Studio. Find out more

Image: Work in progress by Florence Peake CASS Sculpture Foundation/West Dean College Artist-in-Residence 2017. From her body of work inspired by Igor Stravinsky's musical score The Rite of Spring. Supported by Arts Council England.

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Sign up to the arts education e-newsletter

Be the first to know with ArtsMail our quarterly e-newsletter. Exhibitions, student work and creative arts news delivered straight to your inbox.

Help preserve our future

West Dean is part of a registered charity and relies on the support of generous donors, friends, legacies to help us deliver world-class education in conservation and the creative arts and maintain our award-winning gardens.

Find out how you can help support us