Soft Sculpture in the Oak Hall

Jane Fremantle - Soft (83)

This week Soft(83) is installed on the piano in the Oak Hall. This is the third in a series of sculptures made for West Dean House around the theme of sensory experience. For the Oak Hall I was trying to make a sculpture about listening to music. The title Soft means ‘listen’ and ‘piano’. (83) is the number of sketches, maquettes, choices explored and decisions made, when planning and making this final piece. Continue reading

Intervention in the Library

Eye Cue 2015-046

Eye Cue (2015) is the second part of a triptych of site-specific sculptures exploring the sensory experience of life in West Dean House. The interplay of eye and hand is the subject of this piece, conceived for the Library, a space that used to be the Billiard Room. The elevated form is modeled on the feline shape of the eye of Austrian ballet dancer Tilly Losch, one time wife of Edward James. The hand is carved as a pure white alabaster shell, set on a base of black slate. The forms make reference to Losch’s famous Dance of the Hands, particularly as documented in Norman Bel Geddes’ film of the same title from 1930 in which Losch’s hands are featured, curling and flexing against a dark background. Losch had become renowned for her hand dance in ‘Arabesque’ – which she performed “crouched in plain black silk on a black dais” – part of Charles B. Cochran’s 1929 revue Wake Up and Dream, with music composed by Cole Porter. Continue reading

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