On this three-day course we will explore materials such as cloth, wood and paper to produce folk art dolls which may be based on the personal stories of their makers or traditional/ modern-day folklore. You will look at examples of character design and consider how found objects or materials can be used to inspire and communicate atmosphere or back story. We will also draw from a collection of antique and contemporary toys, including dolls, puppets and automata.
From weathervanes to whirly gigs, folk art is an intrinsic part of our visual culture and has been influential for many contemporary designer-makers and artists. Folk art, whether decorative or utilitarian, is rooted in cultural identity. It can be instrumental in preserving or subverting craft traditions and often conveys the shared values and belief systems of makers (and users) through form and material.
Early primitive human forms range from crudely fashioned cloth dolls to carved funerary offerings. More recently, folk dolls have evolved as a decorative art form, sometimes depicting celebrities or legendary figures and often reflecting the social and/or political climate.
You are invited to bring your own stories and materials to create dolls, but this is not essential as examples of possible starting points will be given (including a playful exercise involving collage on the first evening) and essential materials provided.
On our first full day, you will explore simple ways of producing heads and limbs and transferring imagery onto cloth. On day two you will create simple patterns to develop your body parts into three-dimensional forms and explore methods for joining limbs and heads. On day three you will develop and refine your doll(s), culminating in an informal exhibition of the work produced by participants.
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.
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.
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)
FDAD Core Team Tutor and Short Course Tutor
Rachel Larkins is a tutor on the FDAD program and has been teaching short courses at West Dean since 2017. Rachel holds a distinction level Masters in Sequential Design/ Illustration from Brighton University following an early training in Textile Art (BA Hons). Rachel's work encompasses drawing and narrative sculptures and is held in numerous private collections.