Artist-in-Residence: Poppy Jones

Poppy Jones - Omega

From the beginning of the new academic term, the Visual Arts department at West Dean College is pleased to host the London- and Sussex-based artist, Poppy Jones, as its latest Artist-in-Residence. Both Poppy’s practice and research interests are focused on contemporary printmaking, combining the use of traditional media and technique (such as etching, monotype, woodcut, etc.) with digital printing. Whilst always informed by the history of printmaking, Poppy’s work is often concerned with materiality, especially in relation to the digital image. Continue reading

Collaboration for London Craft Week

Second year MFA student, Margaret Jones, is currently collaborating with artist Jake Abrams to produce a piece of work to be shown at the Crypt Gallery in May 2105, during London Craft Week. Such collaborations are part of a new venture between Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust and The Griffin Gallery.

6-10 May, 11am-5pm
Private view: 6 May, 6-8.30pm

The exhibition will include 13 contemporary artists, 13 highly skilled craftsmen,  to create one extraordinary collaborative exhibition inspired by the overarching theme of the inaugural London Craft Week; ‘London’s Hidden Craft’, MAKE / CREATE will feature 13 craft scholars from Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) and 13 fine artists, selected by Griffin Gallery, in dialogue with each other. The spirit of the exhibition lies in the desire to demonstrate the contemporary nature of craft, and the craft involved in contemporary art – changing perceptions of both. The selected craftsmen and artists were placed in pairs by a judging panel that included Julia Robinson of QEST, Becca Pelly-Fry, Director of Griffin Gallery, Rebecca Byrne, Events Manager of Griffin Gallery, Steve Macleod, photographer and Director of Metro Imaging, and Richard Edwards, Visual Arts and Craft Lead for Arts Council England.

Craftspeople/Artists: Scott Benefield / Rachel Wickremer Trevor Cain / Nicola Dale Carréducker / Rosie Munro Kerr Steve Cook / Evy Jokhova Cordaelia Craine / Anneli Holmstrom Daniel Durnin / Lucy Dore Aidan Gray / Susan Fletcher Margaret Jones / Jake Abrams James Kirby / Anne Parfitt Rosanna Martin / Gill Newton Alan Moore / Eliza Bennett Mia Sarosi / Heidi Sincuba Melissa White / Chantal Powell

Jake was keen to work with a textile artist as he had long been thinking of making ‘softer’ materials part of his work, diverging from the manufactured artefacts and harder components (such as wood) that he habitually uses. Margaret viewed the collaboration as an excellent opportunity to broaden her horizons and take her work into exciting new areas. The collaboration engendered a healthy debate on the forms and content of Jake’s designs and also their practicalities within the perceived confines of tapestry weaving. On looking at each other’s work, the final form was arrived at quickly and unanimously – surprising from two artists who have such different backgrounds and portfolios.

Uncomplicated forms, many inspired by some of Jake’s latest paintings, were discussed. Jake manufactured a series of cloth and paper maquettes to work out suitable shapes and Margaret sampled various weaving techniques and edging processes. A large limp figure was envisaged that could slump within the exhibition space: a symbol of a character intensely made but devoid of energy and life-force. An umbilically-conjoined, three-dimensional orb, that would sit away from the figure, was also conceived. This would be an antithetical symbol of visceral vigour, a hectic tangled ball to represent a wild personality and vitality that had become suppressed or hidden away: a person estranged from their own personality.

The theme of duality was extended further by envisaging a rigid metal figure standing adjacent to the woven form, deliberately juxtaposing the surface of hard metal with the painstakingly hand-woven. Margaret and Jake were also fully aware of the embedded ironies within the apparent stereotypic roles that much of the collaboration involved: Margaret painstakingly hand weaving a body shape from natural yarn whilst Jake developed a digital vector map for computerised plasma cutting of steel. The audience at the Crypt Gallery will be invited to involve themselves with these ideas surrounding the work, reflecting on how gendered objects, materials and process can be.

Artist’s Talk: Blue Firth

Blue Firth - Pentacle

At the beginning of last week, Nottingham-based artist and current West Dean College Artist-in-Residence, Blue Firth, gave a talk about her practice to the full-time Visual Arts students and a number of guests. Over the course of an hour, Blue gave a fascinating insight into how her work has developed, taking in various media (sculptural and sound installations, participatory events, publications, site-specific projects) as well as outlining a consistent focus on what is immaterial. In the context of a desire to make work that is tangible (i.e. material) to a broad audience, as well as a renewed passion for materials and the act of making, these problems were discussed as motivating factors in Blue’s practice in general as well as her three-week residency at West Dean. Continue reading

Creative Development Talks at West Dean College

ZAP (Zeitgeist Art Projects)

As part of a series of Creative Development workshops aimed at both emerging and established practitioners, West Dean College presents a series of three evening talks by Rosalind Davis and Annabel Tilley of ZAP (Zeitgeist Arts Projects). Full-time Visual Arts students are invited to attend and tickets are also available to the public – for more information visit the West Dean College website.

The A-Z of Surviving as an Artist
4-6pm, 7th April 2015

Articulating Your Practice: Writing and Talking about your Work
4-6pm, 8th April 2015

Bringing Your Work to the Attention of Others: Exhibitions, Residencies and Proposals
4-6pm, 9th April 2015

The three talks are included in the ‘How to Survive and Thrive as an Artist’ programme (Tuesday 7 – Friday 10 April 2015), an intensive course that offers important information about how to sustain or revitalise art practice, from thinking about artistic identity, being motivated to create DIY Exhibitions and Open Studio events, and raising profiles to create new networks. More information here.

Visual Arts alumnus awarded Syson Prize

Lotti Closs - Composite II. Beech, soapstone, acrylic paint (2014)


Lotti Closs 2014 Summer Shows_Credit Peter Jones_620px
Lotti V Closs, Composites VI, VII, VIII, IX. Mixed hardwoods, soapstone, plywood, alabaster, faux ivory. mother of pearl. 2014. Photo credit Peter Jones.


Congratulation to West Dean Visual Arts alumnus, Lotti V Closs, on being awarded the Syson Prize as part of the Nottingham Castle Open. Closs, who graduated from West Dean with Distinction in 2014 was awarded the solo exhibition which will open the Syson Gallery, Nottingham, in May 2015.