Summer's drawing to a close. September has arrived. In a few days, my boys will be back at school. This means I can take off the 'pause' button that's held me in limbo, and get on with all the things I haven't been able to do for the eight long weeks of school holidays.
I thought I would write this post for all of you who might want to consider a spot of school for yourselves. Now this is not your average type of school. This place is fantastic, a bit of an indulgence, and I highly recommend it!
So this is West Dean in Sussex. Heard of it? If not how has it escaped you? You can do the most amazing courses here, with the most amazing teachers. You can do little taster day courses, or ones that are a week long. There's no requirement to stay on site, but I always feel that those who disappear off each night miss a little bit of the West Dean experience. There are some lovely rooms, great food, a well stocked art shop, super studios, enthusiastic students, a bar, and a big oak panelled drawing room which sometimes has a roaring fire, where you can retire after supper with a nice glass of something. (That's if you can drag yourself away from the studio, as the bubbling creativity is contagious.)
I have picked a handful of courses from the latest brochure that I would love to do myself.
Make an embroidered textile treasure
A one day course where you can create a textile brooch or treasure to wear or display.
Story, image, object - create a necklace
November 17th - 22nd
Create a necklace thats tells a story - an imagined history or a family myth or legend. This course treats jewellery as an art, while traditional jewellery making skills are taught. (I would LOVE to do this one, I am such a fan of Zoe's work, but unfortunately this course is longer than I can be away from my boys, and it clashes with an event I am taking part in.)
November 17th - 22nd
Stories, lists poems all conjure up images. Use paper mache, fabric, wool, broken toys and found objects to develop quirky characters with a tale to tell.
Screenprinted textiles with stitch and applique
January 27th to 30th
Layer colour and texture as you develop skills in basic stencil screen printing, combined with traditional needlework techniques. I have done this one, it was great, and Maxine is lovely. We produced a really large body of work over our long weekend, including finished objects.
There are also wonderful technical courses for jewellers and silversmiths, painting courses, sculpture, photography, photoshop... in fact you really must take a look.
If I could, I would visit every year. It is so wonderful to be able to spend a few solid days learning something new, or perfecting a skill. Being able to totally immerse yourself in something with like minded people. It is pure escapism, and I always return feeling refreshed, recharged, and ready to get on with life.