Visiting Our Neighbours: CASS Sculpture Foundation

The wood-kiln at CASS Sculpture Foudnation

A few weeks back, the Visual Arts students and a few staff members made their annual visit to West Dean College’s neighbours at CASS Sculpture Foundation. As well as having time to tour the grounds and see the latest display of large-scale sculptures by artists such as Eduardo Paolozzi, James Capper, Tony Cragg and Tania Kovats, we were also given access to the CASS archive. Having the chance to look through the stored collection of large-scale drawings and works on paper, together with maquettes relating to previous commissions, is always a particular privilege and an experience that feeds directly into the practices developing back in the Studios at West Dean. At the same time, we were given a brief tour around the temporary exhibition in the Main Gallery, combining with separately commissioned works by UK artist, Alex Hoda. Continue reading

Behind the scenes at CFT

CFT prop and costume store

In the middle of the autumn term, a few Visual Arts students and staff made a visit to the costume and prop store of Chichester Festival Theatre. Housed in the former ‘Olympia Electric’, the town’s first purpose-built cinema dating from 1911, the store contains a vast collection of theatrical costumes and set objects, all organised according to type. The building and its contents are certainly something of a hidden gem, given the location in the middle of a city roundabout, a small distance from the theatre complex itself. After being destroyed by fire in 1922, the building became the Southdown bus garage before its more recent transformation into the theatres storage warehouse. Continue reading

Who Counts as Community?

Charlotte Butler

As a student of Visual Arts at West Dean College I am exploring how textiles can be functional through the use of ancient techniques applied to contemporary practice, not only from an artistic point of view but also questioning the sustainability of crafts and the wider ecology of my work. As well as the larger college and local community, I have so far had great help from the Gardeners, Hospitality team, Estate Management and the Shepherd, to mention a few. Continue reading

West Dean House & the chamber’d nautilus

This Shell

This Shell is the first part of a trio of site-specific sculptures exploring the sensory experience of life in West Dean House. The sense of smell and taste are the subject of this piece, planned for the Dining Room, in a space that used to be the Kitchen. The mouth and nose are here modelled on the aquiline profile of Edward James and carved into the shape of a chambered nautilus. Continue reading

Open Day 2015

Open Day 2015 Creative Arts

OPEN DAY – Saturday 7th November 2015

Find out more about West Dean College’s School of Creative Arts. You will have a chance to tour the Visual Arts Studios, meet current students and staff, find out information about the various programmes of study, gain insight into the history of the College and its founder Edward James, and more.

To book your place on the call + 44 (0) 1243 818 291 or email

If you would like to arrange a visit or have any other questions about visits or Open Days, please contact the Admissions Office on the above number or email.

Staff News: Sarah Hughes at South London Gallery

Sarah Hughes_Hear Hear_med

To coincide with Heritage Open Days 2015, Sarah Hughes, Visual Arts Lecturer and Research Assistant at West Dean College,  developed a series of works relating to the early history of the South London Gallery (SLG) and its proposed impact on the local community. Working from historical material found in Southwark Local History Library and Archive, Hughes presented an installation in the entrance of the Gallery featuring a selection of prints and other small-scale works inspired by early features of the gallery building. Continue reading

‘Edward James in Mexico’ Symposium


Edward James in Mexico: History, Context, Legacy
One-day Symposium – The Old Library, Saturday 24 October 2015, 9.30am-5pm.

This event will consider the impact of Mexico upon the life and work of West Dean College founder, Edward James, from his earliest visits to the country in 1944, until his death forty years later. Papers from a variety of guest speakers will address a range of subjects, including the creation and impact of ‘Las Pozas’, Xilitla, to James’s enduring friendships with other artists associated with Mexico, such as Leonora Carrington. The event will also consider activities preceding James’s presence in Mexico, proposing precursors and associations for his later work. A unique publication relating to the theme of the event will be launched after the symposium. Continue reading