Pottery and ceramics

Form, function and family – wheel thrown porcelain with Chris Keenan

Ref: S3D08804


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About this course

Learn how to use throwing and turning to make a group of functional forms that contain a visual narrative. Consider how scale, shape, function and decoration bring a sense of coherence to a maker's work; these elements are integral to developing your voice.

Course Description

Functional pots including the handmade and industrially-produced, which do their job well and look good, are always a pleasure to use.

The starting point for this porcelain throwing course is an examination of the formal relationships between pieces in a maker's work. How the consideration of scale, shape, function and decoration can bring a sense of coherence to a body of work and make the impact of the group greater than the sum of its individual parts. All of these elements are integral to the development of a maker's voice.

During the course, with the support and guidance of the tutor, you will devise and work on individual projects making groups of pots that contain a visual narrative utilising the processes of throwing and turning. As you will be working on primarily functional forms there will also be the opportunity to work on handles, lids and spouts. The tutor will be on hand to demonstrate the techniques used in his own practice. In addition to the making there will be the opportunity to discuss various decorative and glazing techniques.

The tutor will provide source material as inspiration and there will be plenty of time for discussion of ideas between the tutor and individual students. At the end of the course all participants will present a selection of work for an informal group review.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • The course fee includes the cost of providing all clay, glazing and firing costs (large work in size and quantity may be charged extra).

What students need to bring

  • Overall/apron
  • Old towel
  • Cardboard boxes and tissue paper/newspaper are useful if taking away raw pots at end of course
  • Please bring a stamped self-addressed envelope or a note of your name and email address, if you wish to leave your work at the College, so that we can let you know when your pieces are ready for collection. Please note that your work will be kept for collection for six months from the postmark date on your returned postcard or email.

Available to buy

  • Pottery tools including pottery knife and natural sponge
  • Paper, sketch pad, pencils

Firing and glazing of raw, finished pieces

Students have three options at the end of the course:

1. Students may leave any raw, finished pieces that they wish to keep, for biscuit firing, basic glazing and re-firing by the College, for collection at a later date. (The cost of firings and glaze materials is included in the course fee for this course.)

2. Students may leave raw, finished pieces for biscuit firing at the College. They may then book a place on a Glazing Day - the details and course fee are advertised in the short course programme - and learn how to glaze their work themselves. This work will be re-fired and available for collection at a later date. (There is no further charge for the glazing materials if you choose to book a glazing day.)

3. Students are free to take away their unfired pots for glazing and firing elsewhere.


Chris Keenan

Chris has taught at West Dean since 2011 and has been a visiting lecturer at several London colleges and in Freiburg. He trained as Edmund de Waal's first apprentice. Chris' work is thrown porcelain and is held in several museum collections, including the V&A. Chris is a Fellow of the CPA.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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