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Getting crafty at the festival

Arts and craft fanatics took a trip down to West Dean for a three-day festival full of workshops, live demonstrations, classes and exhibitions.


Running from Friday to Sunday, the show included creative workshops in over 20 different skills, craft demonstrations from pottery to woodwork through to jewellery and drawing and painting classes on the lawn.


Abdollah Nafisi, expert woodworker from the BBC’s recent series The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts, and his partner, designer Kate Nafisi, were on hand, demonstrating elements of making a Sussex chair.


The glorious Sussex sunshine saw hundreds of people visiting but many headed inside West Dean House, which is only open once a year, to witness its treasures.


Students from the college’s School of Arts had created a number of artworks inspired by the life and work of Edward James which was featured inside the house.


Works included A Perfect Kind of Order, by diploma in art and contemporary crafts student Katharine Rabson Stark, which used the dining table to contest the notion of the self-contained, studio-based artist, disrupting the grandeur of the Edwardian set-dining table to show the reality of how 21st century women and mothers work as artists.


In the Music Room, Philippa Clarke (graduate diploma visual arts) created pastoral using the deconstructed keys and hammers from an old piano, together with a graphic score created using the Surrealist technique of frottage.


New workshops this year included modern brush calligraphy with Kirsten Burke, satirical cartooning with Private Eye cartoonist Guy Venables and automata with Stephen Guy.


Visitors also had the opportunity to acquire a piece of unique artwork or handmade craft piece donated by one of the talented artists who tutor on West Dean College of Arts and Conservation short course programmes. Purchases fund bursaries to help aspiring artists and makers join courses they couldn’t otherwise afford.


Children weren’t forgotten, with workshops including UV resin jewellery, polymer clay jewellery, textured pinch pots and hanging mobiles and plaster cast and printmaking.


For more information on short courses and degrees available to study at West Dean College, visit:

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