Renee So for West Dean College of Arts and Conservation Residency

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation announces a new collaboration with De La Warr Pavilion as well as talented textiles artist and sculptress, Renee So…

Renee So – West Dean College of Arts and Conservation 2019 Artist in Residence

Renee So

Renee So was born in 1974 in Hong Kong and now lives and works in London.

Her practise is materials based and includes a variety of mediums including sculpture, ceramics and tapestry, merging a wide range of cultural references across many time periods. Her ceramics borrow from primitive Asian, Middle Eastern, pre-Columbian and African pottery, Assyrian art, Ancient Greek and Roman portrait busts and ‘Bellarmines’ (a 17th-Century genre of German stoneware jugs featuring the head of a bearded man). Meanwhile, her tapestries borrow from the design graphics of playing card royals and cartoon illustration and are self-made on a 1980’s domestic knitting machine.

She has exhibited at ‘In Search of Miss Ruthless’ at Para Site, Hong Kong (2017); in ‘Iconoclasts: Art Out of the Mainstream at The Saatchi Gallery, London (2017); and most recently, at The Whitechapel Gallery, London (2018). In 2019, So will be exhibiting at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds and at the Fremantle Arts Centre in Perth, Australia.

West Dean College of Arts And Conservation x De La Warr Pavilion

This collaboration between West Dean College of Arts and Conservation and the De La Warr Pavilion marks the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus. From its avant-garde, arts and crafts beginnings to its radical approach to uniting art, technology and everyday life, the Bauhaus remains one of the most important, influential art schools of the twentieth century. It produced radical new experiments in pedagogy, performance, film, photography, architecture and design.

Women of the Bauhaus

New Artist in Residence, Renee So, commented:-

I am so happy and excited to be the artist in residence at West Dean, as it provides the chance to further my knowledge of textiles in the tapestry studio. My exhibition will bring together my non-hierarchical approach towards art and craft in recognition of the women of the Bauhaus.’.

3-Week Residency

The three-week residency will provide So with the time, space and facilities for making new work, with access to a variety of resources and facilities, including the historic West Dean House and the College’s collections and archives.

So was chosen from a recent Open Call for artists that attracted entries nationally and internationally.

Astute Approach

Alison Baxter, Head of School at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation stated:-

‘…  We are very pleased to announce Renee So for this 2019 Artist-in-Residence and look forward to supporting her as she develops new work for an exciting new exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion. Renee was selected for her critical engagement with the values of the Bauhaus and astute approach to this burgeoning project…’.

Solo Exhibition

So will utilise the ceramics and tapestry studios of the College to produce a new series of sculptural lamp bases and fabric shades using these applied arts. This work will mark the starting point for a solo exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion in Autumn 2019.


The lamps will be grouped alongside other large-scale bespoke furnishings in an interpretation of the Bauhaus core belief of gesamtkunstwerk or a ‘total work of art’, uniting art, craft and design within the modernist architecture of the De La Warr Pavilion. The exhibition will focus on the historical undertones of applied arts as ’women’s work’ in recognition of the many women whose contributions to the Bauhaus were previously overlooked, redressing the gender imbalance of the time. The exhibition will demonstrate that the interdisciplinary innovation of the Bauhaus remains as relevant today as it did 100 years ago.

An example of Renee So’s enviable sculpture and tapestry work.

Superior Quality

Head of Exhibitions at the De La Warr Pavilion, Rosie Cooper commented:-

‘Renee’s application stood out for the quality of her work, and for the way she has incorporated lesser-known histories of the Bauhaus into her proposal. We are very much looking forward to staging her exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion, and to working with West Dean College again to support an exceptional artist to produce new work.’.


West Dean College of Arts and Conservation announces Renee So as Artist-in-Residence in 2019. The three-week residency in May 2019 will support a solo exhibition of So’s work at the De La Warr Pavilion in Autumn 2019.

The West Dean College of Arts and Conservation’s Artist-in-residence programme organised by the School of Arts provides artists with the opportunity to research, reflect and experiment in order to develop the possibilities of their own practice. It enriches the learning environment for the College’s arts and conservation students.

The selection panel for the residency and exhibition was: Becky Beasley, Artist; Thom O’Nions, Curator and Director of the Sunday Art Fair; Rosie Cooper, Head of Exhibitions at the De La Warr Pavilion; Sarah Hughes, Artist and Curatorial Assistant at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. https.

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation (

Set within the breath-taking South Downs National Park, West Dean was once home to the poet and Surrealist patron, Edward James, recognised by BBC Arts as the ‘the greatest patron of art of the early 20th century’. James founded West Dean College of Arts and Conservation in 1971. The College now provides the highest quality of education in arts and conservation, championing traditional and contemporary art and craft practise. The College is part of The Edward James Foundation (Charity No. 1126084), also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studio. Study options in the School of Arts range from MFA and Graduate Diploma in Fine Art, Foundation degrees in Historic Craft Practices, and part-time Diploma in Arts and Contemporary Craft, as well as 800+ short courses a year. Prospective students can tour the School of Arts at Student Open Days. The next open days are on 7th December 2018 and 9th February 2019.


West Dean
Nr Chichester
West Sussex
PO18 0QZ

The De La Warr Pavilion (

The De La Warr Pavilion is a centre for arts and culture in an iconic 1935 modernist building by the sea. With artists and audiences at its heart, it produces and innovative and integrated cultural programme that reflects the world in which we live. In January 2018 they presented Caroline Achaintre’s Fantômas, the result of a previous residency programme with West Dean College. Exhibitions this year have continued with Tamar Guimarães and Kaper Akhøj I blew on Mr Greenhill’s joints with a very ‘hot’ breath, Alison Wilding Right Here and Out There, Florence Peake RITE: on this pliant body we slip our WOW!, Lucy Beech Hyperstimulation and A Tale of Mothers’ Bones : Grace Pailthorpe, Reuben Mednikoff and the Birth of Psychorealism, and 1935.


De La Warr Pavilion
Bexhill On Sea
East Sussex
TN40 1DP


[Credits:  Feature image – An example of Renee So’s tapestry and sculpture (West Dean College of Arts and Conservation); West Dean College of Arts and Conservation Press Office; De La Warr Pavilion; Golden² Consulting]


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