West Dean Short Spell

Updated: Dec 28, 2020

At the beginning of March, was so lucky to be asked by the Edward James Foundation Trust to attend a short course with them at West Dean College of Art and Conservation in Sussex. Taught by the lovely Elaine Holt, seven others and I took part in the 'Ceramics with Mixed Media and Found Objects' course - if there was ever such a thing for me on a tin, this was it. I've struggled bloody hard since leaving uni with making "work," it all seemed very confused and pointless with a longing to work with more sculptural and ceramic style pieces but HOW?!

West Dean itself is a beautiful haven and a world only imagined - giraffe heads on walls in giant halls and art studios in orangeries, madness! I wanted to treat it as some form of art sanctuary and retreat, locking myself away to fill my world with intensive art and focused making. Eek! Back in a world of studio scraps and long days working hard, I felt like I was home, but with my hands covered in porcelain slip instead of grey dyrect dye.

Once we really got back into foraging for found objects, I realised once again that's that is where my artistic endeavours lie - assemblage. Running around with bits of rust and old tools was really where it all visually entangled together and from that I re-fell in love with the beauty of exploring and repurposing lost pieces of the past into a weird collaged selection. One piece of work that I found such a joy in doing however was coiling a large pot - filling with grain, oxides and textural line work, the organic process was one that resonated with me. Knowing that naturally I can't throw well, building by hand into a big risky piece was so exciting and fun and all-consuming I felt like I found once again a true calling. Overall, the experience was so magically art absorbing that it's feeding into creating new found scenes of postcards from the past and refilling my studios with broken, found objects once more ...