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.
Degree and Diploma Open Day - Friday 1 December. Register now
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.
View some of the work exhibited at West Dean Critical Paths Summer Show 2017.
Critical Paths showcased the work of students who graduated from the full-time Visual Arts programmes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Previous Artists-in-Residence include the celebrated artist Florence Peake, who spent three-weeks in the Edward James Studios as part of a series of residencies organised in collaboration with Cass Sculpture Foundation. Christine Mills' residency project Tinkering with Strings was supported by Arts Council Wales and involved her making several visits to the Visual Arts studios and the renowned Making of Musical Instrument programmes. Yelena Popova is a Russian artist based in the UK, her ceramics based residency in 2017 focused on developing natural glazes using a variety of materials sourced from the West Dean Estate and local area.
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.