The chairs of West Dean – an investigation through painting with Nick Bodimeade

Painting - Subject Led

Ref: S5D11688

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About this course

An experimental visual research course exploring West Dean's remarkable collection of chairs and sofas through drawing, photography and painting. As well as practical studio based work you will have access to normally off limits areas of the historic parts of the College and will be given a guided tour by the House Steward.

Course Description

A five-day course where, starting with Salvador Dalí’s Mae West Lips sofa you will explore West Dean’s remarkable collection of chairs and sofas. You will be given a tour of the historic parts of the College by the House Steward. You will be drawing and photographing in areas of the College usually off limits, as well as working directly from some of the furniture in the painting studio. Taking the lead from the Mae West Lips sofa, you will be exploring ideas to do with bodily relationship with chairs, sofas and chaise longue, such as projection, comfort, pleasure and desire. You will explore how these ideas can have their equivalence in the qualities of drawing and painting materials and their handling. You will look at the contexts of the furniture and explore how these change the way we feel about the subject.

You will produce a large body of exploratory and experimental work in a range of media. Making drawings and mixed media works on paper and acrylic paintings on board. You will be guided in this by the tutor through a range of different practical strategies. The emphasis will be on investigation and visual research and will best suit those with some experience of self directed practice or who wish to move their work in that direction.

There will be daily slideshows of relevant historical and contemporary artists. Teaching will be a mix of group and individual tuition with the aim of enabling particular and personal work. At the end of the course, there will be an informal display and review of the work produced. This course is less about a ‘how to do it’ approach than a ‘what happens if’ one. Surprises, new ideas and insights and original work are expected.

Sunday evening.

Introductions and ice breaker drawing.


Guided tour by House Steward

Experimental drawing of chairs in studio

Introduce sketchbook and photographic research.



Sketchbook and photographic exploration of West Dean chairs in situ.



Studio work building upon research imagery from days 1 and 2

Painting and drawing.



Personal studio development

Studio critique


Personal studio work

Development and resolution

Display of work and 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 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 College will supply 8 MDF boards per student at 28x36cm and acrylic primer

What students need to bring

  • A4 cartridge pad
  • Drawing materials. Pencils, eraser, charcoal.
  • Acylic paint
  • Brushes
  • Pallette
  • Camera/camera phone/tablet/laptop sufficient to be able to take photographs and be able to work from them as needed.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • The shop has a good range of drawing and painting materials
  • Available from tutor:
  • A range of papers.
Wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals. Safety boots, if specified.


Nick Bodimeade

Nick trained at Worthing and Wolverhampton art colleges, has taught at many UK schools, colleges and universties at all levels up to MA. He exhibits with St Annes Galleries, Lewes. Zimmer Stewart Gallery, Arundel and the Porthminster Gallery, St Ives. Nick's work is held in many public and private collections including, The Contemporary Art Society, The Landmark Trust and the Government Art Collection. He is a Trustee of Fabrica, Brighton's leading Contemporary Art Gallery.


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

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