Experimental self-portraiture – through the looking glass with Freya Pocklington


Ref: S4D12454

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About this course

Explore an extensive range of fun and innovative self-portrait ideas using a variety of materials and techniques. Expand your drawing practice by creating large-scale drawings, zines, sculptures and much more through the looking glass.

Course Description

This course explores the vast subject of self-portraiture through the looking glass, examining a variety of artists including Louise Bourgeois, Cindy Sherman, Frida Kahlo and many more. You will investigate an assortment of materials including ink, pastel, tracing paper, mixed media, collage, sculpture and thread. These will be used in conjunction with timed set exercises – some short and others longer. You will be making large-scale drawings alongside artist books and masks which you will draw from. As well as looking at the face as a representation of yourself, you will look at the background in which you set yourself, the stories you wish to tell and the use of metaphors within images. You will study layering techniques both with paper and also with ink to tell complex narratives alongside more simplified approaches and quicker observational methods.

You will be working in both the studio and the stunning environment of West Dean College. The tutor will support you throughout each exercise and by the end of the course, you will be encouraged and supported in your own self-initiated projects. This will give you the confidence to carry on outside of the taught studio sessions. You will have expanded your knowledge on artists who work with self-portraiture, how you can use different methods to create depictions of yourself and how timed briefs and exercises can benefit your practice. You will be working individually and as a group to support and learn from each other.

The tutor would recommend you have had some drawing experience before the course so you feel confident in trying new and experimental approaches.

Part of Materials Week

Our February themed week of short courses for 2023 focuses on GLASS, led by talented artist-tutors Emma Biggs (mosaic), Freya Pocklington (self-portrait drawing); Jessica Turrell (enamelling), Sasha Ward (stained glass), Richard Walker (glass gilding).

Each course explores a different quality of this versatile material, which is integral to our lives in so many ways; its ability to transmit light and colour, create unique and patterned surfaces, or reflect our own image.


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 until 9pm, 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


  • On this course the tutor will supply some of the materials including: embroidery thread, needles, stamps, feathers, reference books and collage materials.
  • On this course the College will supply most of the materials including: A1, A2 and A3 cartridge paper 220gsm, A4 sugar paper in assorted colours, A4 tracing paper, A2 thick white card, A3 computer printer paper, 1 small bottle Winsor and Newton ink in Black, Brick Red, Canary Yellow, Cobalt/Blue, 1 Staedtler eraser, 1 red/blue pencil crayon, 1 black HB conte pastel, 1 compressed charcoal pastel each and some PVA to share.

What students need to bring

  • Any photos you wish to use of yourself from all ages, pencils, pens and any materials you wish to explore further
  • A large brush – one that you would use for household painting, smaller brushes for ink – a variety of sizes
  • Please bring aprons as we will be working with inks

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • General art materials are available from the shop including a good variety of drawing materials, inks and papers.
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Freya Pocklington

Associate and Short Course Tutor

Freya trained at Edinburgh College of Art and UAL. She has received residencies from The Royal Scottish Academy, Scottish Arts Council, The Florence Trust, Somerset House, West Dean College and The National Trust. She exhibits regularly in the UK and abroad. Freya is currently undertaking a PhD at the Royal College of Art, examining the role of fine art portraiture within narrative medicine.


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

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or a Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts (10 three-day study blocks, over two years). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.

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