Exploring sculptural themes – figure, landscape, abstract with Jon Edgar

Modelling, casting and other techniques

Ref: SSS10545

Suitable for all

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About this course

Explore sculptural form with clay, wire, wax, wood and the carved block. Take inspiration from the reclining figure, the South Downs landscape, the human head, music and emotions, experimenting and uncovering your sculptural voice.

Course Description

Work with a variety of materials, such as clay, wire, wax and wood, to explore sculptural themes and forms. Through a series of exercises and taking inspiration from two models, the surrounding South Downs landscape, music or your own emotions, experiment with how materials can express these ideas and forms. There is time to explore further in your chosen area.

The College has a rich surrounding landscape which has influenced many artists. You will explore three-dimensional form in response to five different influences, including the landscape, reclining figure, the portrait head, music and your own emotions, and to explore a variety of sculptural materials in different working conditions (field, studio, whilst moving etc.). Through a process of structured exercises and experimentation, you will extend your field of enquiry – perhaps what excites you most – to develop a longer sculptural study and perhaps a larger sculpture (up to 24 inches).

Simple, single, sculpture materials provide a means of creating sculptural form without unnecessary visual complication. You will begin working with clay, plasticine, wax, wire, soap and balsa, assessing each material for its qualities until you find one to pursue your longer study. You will make four small sculptures (6-9 inches in size) in four different materials and then discuss, with the group, the different responses. The tutor will then support you as you develop a longer study from one of these pieces.

By the end of the course, you will have gained an appreciation of four sculptural materials and their use for modelling/building up and reduction/taking away from the block, where appropriate. You will also have an understanding of some of the sculptural qualities which contribute to strong form, and an ability to judge yours and others' work.

A feature of the Summer School is an immersive learning experience, with more time to develop your creativity and embrace further opportunities for creative development beyond your chosen course.

Several early evening creative sessions (5.10pm - 7pm) are planned throughout the week. Extra activities will differ this year in response to social distancing. A detailed timetable for your Summer School week will be given to you on arrival. This will include:

• Short inspirational talks by tutors and displays of their work

• Sign up for early evening tutor-led drawing sessions in the garden

• Time to relax or explore in the tranquil West Dean Gardens

• Take a break from your course with some free time on Tuesday afternoon, from 3.30-5pm

• Informal end-of-course group reviews and displays of students' work in studios


Timetable for Summer Schools

Several evening events are planned throughout the week, a detailed timetable for the summer schools will be given to you on arrival.

Arrival Day

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).

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 should vacate their rooms by 10am please.

Course Materials


  • The course fee includes the cost of providing a model, all clay and and firing costs.
  • Safety specs are provided by the workshop. All tools are provided.

What students need to bring

  • Comfortable clothing for ease of movement (and that you don't mind getting clay on).
  • Come with an open mind. You do not need to be able to draw or sculpt, just to be enthusiastic about trying a little of everything.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Wooden modelling tools
  • Cheesewire cutter
  • Sketch pad for rough drawing, pencil or pen
FIRING YOUR WORK Fill in the form supplied if you wish to leave your work at the College for firing. Please note that your work will be kept for collection for six months from the date we inform you work is ready for collection. Firing of raw, finished pieces: You have two options: 1. Leave any raw, finished pieces that you wish to keep, for biscuit firing by the College, for collection within six months. 2. You take away your unfired work for firing elsewhere.


Jon Edgar

A tutor with 10 years experience teaching at West Dean on both short and degree courses, he has recently created bespoke short sculpture courses for the degree course at UCA, Canterbury, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, UEA.


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

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