Anja Beckert

Anja Beckert’s work explores organic form in a variety of materials and processes. She is interested in creating metaphors for physical and psychological human experience, as well as exploring our co-existence with other living beings on our shared journeys through emergence, growth, joy, suffering, aging, death and decay. Beckert reflects on individual experience as well as relationship networks inherent in the mechanisms of family groups, national societies, and planetary ecosystems.

A key inspiration is the human body and all manner of natural forms. For many years Beckert has been fascinated by life-creating or sheltering objects – such as cocoons, eggs, seed pods, flower buds and shells – intrigued by their biological manifestations and mystical connotations. Having lived for months surrounded by lush nature, many new forms have recently been added to her symbolic vocabulary, reminiscent of leaves, feathers, hair, and tentacles. Such organic forms are often contrasted with synthetic objects, materials and technologies, highlighting some of the key dynamics of our time.

In her drawings, collages, sculptures, and installations, Beckert has developed a surreal visual language, cultivating plant-like bodies in order to establish them in their own world, radiating with mysterious aura and archaic spirit. The artist also plays with binary structures – known-unknown, attractive-repellent, light-dark, smooth-textured, open-closed, inside-outside – through a theatrical, ‘stage-lit’ focus. Isolation from context gives her images and objects an iconic, typological character that crucially, when presented as a multiplicity, remains open to interpretation.

Robin Bray-Hurren

The work of Robin Bray-Hurren combines traditional textile techniques of embroidery, patchwork and appliqué, with printmaking techniques such as linocut and cyanotype, to explore queer and non-normative bodies, identities, and histories. Concerned with embodying experience, Robin’s work draws upon his own experiences as a queer, trans man, and as a disabled person with a brain and body different from the norm.

Working with the hands is central to Robin’s studio process. The repetitive nature of hand sewing, weaving, or cutting printing blocks establishes a meditative space in which the work can develop organically, resulting in detailed objects that demand intimate attention from the viewer. The presence of the maker’s hand also offers a reminder of the human lives often embodied within the work and, in dedicating such care to its making, Robin emphasises how his subjects deserve similar recognition. His work aims to create a space in which different ideas and experiences, many of which have historically marginalised, can be freely explored.

Robin’s current work explores the ways in which societal constructs overlap and interact with the less defined boundaries of the biological world, particularly our methods of understanding and organising our lives.


Trudi Browett

Trudi Browett’s sculptural practice bring together all manner of found materials and objects as ‘pseudo-domestic’ scenes that carry complex associations and emotions. Emphasising evocations of personal memory and cultural nostalgia, Browett draws out intertwined themes of vulnerability and care, danger and protection,escapism and fantasy, encouraging the viewer to reflect on their own experiences as part of their response to the work.

Incorporating painting, collage, printmaking, and cast concrete, Browett’s installations imbue everyday objects with layers of unexpected and often unsettling narratives. Her carefully constructed scenarios are often elegiac, conveying fear and loss, at the same time as exposing layers of surrealistic humour, often in association with the workings of the child’s mind.

Browett worked as an Occupational Therapist for many years and draws on that experience in her studio practice. Her research into the role of memory and the impact of childhood trauma have led her to explore neuro-development and the internal mechanisms we use to contextualise or make sense of our experience.


Philippa Clarke

Muddy boots and grubby fingers are indicative of Clarke’s studio practice and her investigations into contemporary landscape. Her paintings and drawings shift between forms of abstraction and narrative representation, ranging from small monotypes to large-scale series and installations.

Clarke studied at the Royal Agricultural College in the early 1990’s and maintains a keen interest in how land is used and managed. She seeks to challenge her own preconceptions to uncover our complex relationships with landscape and the environment. The intersections between human and natural processes are played out in Clarke’s painting methods which often involve frost, ice, rain or chalk. In the studio she strives for harmony and balance through a series of dynamic contrasts set up between colour and tone, serendipitous mark-making and constructed forms, actively combining illusory space and painted surface.

Without access to a studio during lockdown, Clarke’s practice took a figurative turn as she documented her everyday surroundings in a series of charcoal drawings and writings. From a reluctant family walk, to images of a midwife setting off to work, the drawings reveal glimpses of daily life in extraordinary times. As time has progressed, certain themes have insisted themselves across the series: the importance of outside space; the role of technology; family and domestic life; community and key workers. By paying attention to the everyday we notice differences and disparities. The pandemic is a global phenomenon but experiences of it are not universal.



John Collett

John Collett’s work revolves around the fictional universe of ‘Esquivale’, a place in which humans are not the dominant species. Exploring different modes of storytelling and a variety of media – drawing and painting, sculpture, music and sound design, video, and narrative – Collett’s world-building project proposes hypothetical situations that differ from reality in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Esquivale presents comparisons between animal and human behaviour through snapshots of a world filled with all manner of sentient creatures, peculiar landscapes and curious events.

Collett invites the audience to form their own opinions on the attitudes and actions of the creatures of his fantastical land. He presents alternative trajectories of evolution and societal structure as satirical reflections on what our own world is and isn’t. His aim is to encourage reflection through an entertaining and engaging delve into utopian and dystopian fantasy.

Collett’s world-building is also informed by his education in historic craft practices, performing arts and linguistics.



Janet Dorey

Exploring ideas of artifice and the constructed body, Janet Dorey works across paint, photography, and sculpture to explore the ambiguity of flesh. Using combinations of analogue and digital technology, her abstracted corporeal images repeat across multiple surfaces – matt, glossy, transparent – their focus offset and emphasised by shimmering effects of colour and reflected light. Choosing to make use of glares and imperfections in her source imagery, Dorey foregrounds this visual plasticity as an integral quality to be developed in the studio.
Dorey also works with found images. Retired books are playfully re-formed and overlaid with an otherworldly aesthetic that renders existing texts, diagrams and photographic representations open to new interpretation. Blurring the emphasis between two- and three-dimensions, Dorey attempts to re-compose associations between form and colour, slicing into images and presenting them as ambiguous suspensions.
Drawing on influences as diverse as Dr Seuss, Arthur Schoenberg, Hans Bellmer, Sigmar Polke and Cecily Brown, Dorey works in series, referencing musical movements by setting up dramatic tension across multiple images, building up to the heightened crescendo of operatic performance.


Ruth Glasheen

The work of Ruth Glasheen focuses on the complexities of our visual understanding of the world around us. She is fascinated by images and
shapes seen in the landscape, how we decipher them, and what we take them to mean. Lines in a wheatfield following the harvest may be animal tracks, evidence of archaeological remains, or the site of an alien landing. The various readings that might come to our minds as we walk, or perhaps look at a photograph, are ‘decodings’ informed by science, history and popular culture, yet all three come from the same source – we can imagine them all. Glasheen explores these themes of connotation, inference, and coded meaning that give rise to repetitions of colou and form. Acts of reinterpretation in the construction of meaning continue to engage her in the studio, taking the form of site-specifi interventions, sculptural objects, and installations.

Walking forms a large part of Glasheen’s artistic practice and, as with many people during the pandemic, the local has become a concentrated
world of both familiarity and investigation. For the past year Glasheen has been exploring a particular hill near her home. Through an active engagement with a particular landscape – its archaeology, surface patterns and atmosphere – a physical and imagined sense of place is triggered. Revisited numerous times, Hat Hill formed the basis for postgraduate research and a continuation of this study has prompted her most recent work. Large-scale tapestries and metal fencing panels form a portrait of the hill, combining its various aspects. References to traditional landscape painting emerge through layered facets of foreground and background, as well as the use of both muted and saturated colour. Squares of colour become like areas of turf where microscopic worlds can be studied, cubes of cast concrete take on the function of animal tracks. The overall installation suggests multiple viewing points, encouraging the viewer to combine them to create their own composite encounter with a whole landscape.


Cathy Griffiths

Inspired by walking in solitary accord with the immediate environment, Cathy Griffiths embraces the present with the rhythm of a steady beat. Her current work is rooted in a desire to capture the evanescence of her wanderings and to record the selective nature of her findings. Walking effects a light touch on the landscape and for her it encourages the experience of reflection and tranquillity.

Key to these ideas is the knot and reflections on the materiality of thread as an effective embodiment of memory. A knot is folded in on itself. It may be joined up and retrieved, undone and rewound, added to and subtracted from, but it has a structure that rolls and curves inward.
A feeling for the handmade process of working and the use of commonplace fabrics or threads allow Griffiths’ use of materials to evoke a quiet and reflective calm. She is developing works that combine thread structures with natural material fragments: ‘scores’ that effectively record and annotate a diaristic form of experience.
Ruth Heaton

Ruth Heaton’s work explores the perception of spatial complexity and architectonic composition across drawing, painting, sculpture, and installation. She works with both the abstract and the figurative to explore relationships between form, space, and colour. Her interdisciplinary approach reflects an emergent dialogue between a precise methodology informed by technical refinement, and more intuitive approaches to drawing and composition.

Heaton intentionally questions boundaries between two- and three-dimensional practice. Sculptures are informed by the grid systems and perspective lines projected by paintings. Cross-references build up to create a sense of depth and rhythm across all the work, operating through repetition of structures, motifs, and colours. Order is quickly challenged through perceptual ambiguity, leaving the viewer to navigate uncertain paths within the spatial complexity of the work.

For Heaton, the fabrication of a physical object offers an essential starting point for engaging with the technical aspects of making. This soon becomes a departure point from which to work more responsively and fluidly, necessitating a concern for both the conceptual and the poetic, echoed in the ongoing dynamic between abstraction and the figurative.

Christine Howell

An artist working primarily with felt, Christine Howell combines her use of wool with other natural materials and processes, including stitch, textiles, and paper. Largely abstract in composition, Howell’s works are the result of her engagement with the quiet, meditative, repetitive process of wet felting. From their beginnings in simple raw materials, her works slowly become transformed into intense, minimal objects that possess organic and elemental qualities.

Howell’s pared down methods of production capture a sense of stillness in complex arrangements of neutral tone. Inspired both by wild, desolate landscapes with broad horizons and the details of everyday perception, Howell seeks to merge these perspectives whilst maintaining an essential ambiguity. The macro view of distant, slow looking can be blended with the micro view of the intriguing close-up.
Informed by her fascination with aesthetic sensibilities that focus on limited palettes and muted use of colour, Howell’s compositions are tender explorations of the quiet, neutral intrigues of a balanced everyday life.


Sarah Johns

The work of Sarah Johns explores how our beliefs and actions are influenced by magic and magical thinking, in its widest sense. This includes spirituality, witchcraft, and the postmodern concept of chaos magic – or success-magic. Chaos magic practitioners in particular work with the concept of belief itself, using manipulation to achieve a particular outcome.

She is curious about both our inclination – or in some cases need – for there to be more than the observed or the explained, and how that desire can be influenced and exploited.

Sarah’s work also draws on her interest in history, botany, herbs, spells and the land/earth. Her work tells tales – she makes work about forgotten, imagined or hidden stories, often allegorical, and often using archetypal symbols to convey narrative: Her work distills universal ideas into simple forms and patterns.

The medium of woodcut printing is the core of her practice – a medium that creates a singular effect and has been used historically to convey folktales, to inform and incite.


Jane McNair

A gathering of materials, there are so many, colours jostle, there are clashes and collisions, groupings and pairings. Some pieces stand out as themselves. Others make something new when they are together.

Different combinations depend on surroundings, grey stone floor, red brick, greens of grass, moss and leaves, purple heather, copper beech and buttercups, blue sky, white cloud, white walls.

Shabby cardboard slumps against a corner, sprawls on a floor, creased through use, and age, and unwantedness. But it carries colour JOYOUSLY, paint splashed and sploshed about with delight, the wonderful freedom of brush marks sloppily painted.

Colours are free to move and change, dance with the light, dawn soft pink and apricot, day bright gold and blue, hazy purple evening, moonlight, starlight…

Colours of childhood, boiled sweets and jelly tots, felt pens and fairy tale illustrations, flowers and gardens, fields and hills. The path through the woods, mauve, warm as dark heather, and all the tones through violet chocolate to orange.

Tinsel and balloons, egg cups and pipe-cleaners, streamers and ribbons, spirals and swirls, spilling over, flowing away, washing up on a shore.

Anything can happen.



Archive ︎
Phoebe Connolly

A celebration of place and the flora and fauna that exists within it lies at the heart of Phoebe Connolly’s practice. Using a combination of drawing and engraving, Phoebe works with line and light to capture fleeting imagery on surfaces as diverse as paper, wood, metal and glass. The engraved line is able to harness such delicate detail as to impart liveliness to line and illusion to form.

Having grown up in East Sussex, surrounded by the South Downs and Coast, the wild and cultivated landscapes of that region remain strong influences in her work. Using both close observation and working from memory, Phoebe’s experience of place is often intertwined with the existing narratives she discovers within the materials. The encounters she traces in line and light onto the materials create new narratives that explore the balance of diversity, power and fragility in the natural environment.

Phoebe’s work often begins with walking in the landscape, making preliminary drawings and collecting natural and manmade objects. Drawing on historical and scientific research methods, including traditions of meticulous looking and detailed analysis, she weighs up juxtapositions of the natural and manmade in order to encourage the viewer to see their environment in a new light.



Nina O’Connor

With a lightness of touch and pared-down palette, Nina O’Connor creates delicate, fragile, forms using natural materials. Combining stitch, weave and soft basketry techniques, her work ranges from intimate hand-held objects to large-scale immersive installations.

Drawing out and upholding values that nurture the self are at the heart of O’Connor’s practice. Her work is focused upon the senses, particularly the haptic, where information is gleaned by active movement of the hand rather than passive contact. Exploration of the surface texture is emphasised by simple construction methods that reveal the materiality within making. The process influences the fabric, without controlling it, creating an energy equally at home in both resolved and unresolved form. Aligned with O’Connor’s intention to allow materials their authentic voice, her tactile forms - sensed by the hands - foster a curiosity about the natural world and a respect for material processes.

Remaining in touch with the immediate environment through its cycling seasons and harvests, O’Connor is provided with an ongoing material for potential explorations in site-specific colour and sculptural form. Working from home during ‘lockdown’, she is enjoying sourcing local materials for eco-colour and hand-made cordage, working outside and in her garden shed.



West Dean College of Arts & Conservation
West Dean, Chichester, West Sussex
United Kingdom  PO18 0QZ