Judy Wetherall


Following graduation in Conservation from Brighton and the City and Guilds of London Art School, studying in Italy and Germany, Judy established her reputation working on gilding, japanning, polychrome and period paint. She is a Churchill Fellow, and 2015 winner of the Lord Balfour of Burleigh Award for Excellence in Craftsmanship. She is passionate about her work, and her infectious enthusiasm has led her to teach in many institutions. Her life's-work portfolio is impressive, and includes work for National Trust, English Heritage; Royal Collections; Globe theatre; Churches and Cathedrals; Guildhall Art Gallery and numerous private clients.

What is your approach to teaching?

As a conservator I am fascinated by the nature of materials and techniques, and how they interact in the hands of craftsmen, both in past artists' work, and in applying that knowledge, in new, creative ways today. My teaching focusses on really understanding historic materials and techniques, and to developing new ones, and using them in innovative ways. I teach by demonstration, equally sharing visual and tactile elements, with simultaneous talks. I use historic and new materials' samples, and West Dean interiors to illustrate and inspire. Sensitive, one-to-one teaching has been core to my practice, to gently nurture, enable and resource anyone, at any level, to acquire new revelations, skills and possibilities!

What is inspires your own work?

Throughout my life's work in conservation, the techniques and materials used by expert craftsmen have always inspired, driven and fascinated me. I've delighted in discovering new and old techniques; in pushing boundaries; in teasing things out, and trying to creatively connect with those masters in our shared passion for the extraordinary. I've thrilled in exploring and forging new ways to use all this marvellous stuff, and because I just love this field of decorative art, it is natural to me to want absolutely everyone else to be as keen on it too, and to share it all!

It seems innate in me to help others who want to do the same: lives shaped by this passionate legacy of craftsmanship, continuing this 'contagion of excellence' in our work.

Help preserve our future

West Dean is part of a registered charity and relies on the support of generous donors, friends, legacies to help us deliver world-class education in conservation and the creative arts and maintain our award-winning gardens.

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