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Poetry of Decay: Experimental Fabric Techniques


7 October 2022 - 9 October 2022

3 day course 10am - 4pm

A 3-day course with textiles artist Christine Chester, exploring the Poetry of Decay.

During this 3-day mixed media course, delivered by Christine Chester, you will be introduced to some materials and processes that will help you to create rich and textured surfaces, based on the inspiration found in and around the Clayhill Arts site.

Christine will show you how to create your own mark-making tools from found and discarded objects from around our landscape, whilst producing a series of small paper-based studies enabling you to layer experiments quickly. This will enable you to create an understanding of your materials, that you could then use at home, to work on more considered fabric pieces and in your ongoing practice.

This is an introduction to mixed media and is mostly worked on paper. During the 3 days, you will be incorporating these works with experimental fabric techniques. Participants will work with A6 heavy papers, first creating an underlayer of texture; then working on with lots of different wet and dry media.

This media includes paints, inks, dyes, wax, oil pastel, puff binder, rusting powder and more – combined with machine and hand stitch.

By the end of the course, you will:

  • Gain an appreciation of how physical textures will affect coloured media.
  • Have an understanding of fast and non-fast media and how they work with each other.
  • Have discovered how layering builds up complexity, as lower layers affect subsequent media.
  • Have learnt how this method can be used to experiment with any new media.
  • Know how this method provides a good model for sketchbook work for anyone working primarily with texture.

Download the full Course Itinerary here

This will also work well with our course with textile artist, Claire Benn which is happening earlier in the year.
Find out more about the course here.

Christine Chester

Christine Chester is a textile artist and teacher working from Studio 11 in Eastbourne, having previously worked for 20 years in the Adult and FE sector.

After being accepted into several juried competitions, Christine has a solo gallery at the Festival of Quilts, alongside completing her Master's degree at the University of Brighton - a practice-based degree over 2 years, which has already informed her own practice beyond the scope of the degree itself.

As an artist, she is curious about loss, absence, and identity. Bringing her own personal experiences to the work she teaches; Christine enjoys the sharing and enabling that is the key to the studio experience. She teaches adults of all ages, working in any form of textiles.

Christine is also a founder member of the textile art group unFOLD.

It has taken me a long time but I am finally doing what I have always wanted: I am working as an artist and teacher. I love doing both and they feed into each other.

You can find Christine on Instagram @cctextileart on Facebook @studio11eb and on Twitter @cctextileart 

All our course days run from 10am till 4pm

We start the course with an introduction to the class, getting to know one another and going through the learning objectives. Christine will be showing you what the final aims and outcomes might look like over the next 3 days and will be talking through the form and structure of the course. Once Christine has discussed the practical elements, you will then be diving right in; starting off with laminating your first set of papers. After a group lunch, you will be introduced to wet media and continue to cover your prepared cards from the morning with colour.

The second day begins with a walk around the grounds of Clayhill to collect natural materials and gather inspiring textures. You will then be exploring the use of colour in fabrics and how to set the colour into the fabric using salt. You will be incorporating and combining this into the work you started on the previous day. After lunch, you will be adding accents of texture with puff, rust, metallics and stitch. You will also be introduced to colouring with bondaweb.

On this final day, you will be combining all of your samples together to create a book. You will be talked through the process of linear composition and book formation. After lunch, you will be constructing your books and we will close the day with a sharing session, where you will see all of the work completed by the other participants.

We have a fantastic accommodation offer onsite, and would recommend staying here for the fully immersive Clayhill experience. All our accommodation is reserved for the students for the duration of the course and you will have a bedroom of your own. Our rooms have been converted from a series of old cattle sheds and from an old milking parlour and retain characterful features such as exposed wooden roof timbers and stone walls. Each bedroom has its own tea and coffee making facilities and outdoor seating area.

We also have an onsite laundry should you need to use these facilities during your stay with us. WIFI is available throughout the complex, heating and hot water is supplied by biomass technology, electricity by solar technology and all of the water around the site is fed by a natural spring.

Accommodation is offered at £80/night. If you would like to make your stay here more comfortable, you can also buy single additional nights before or after the course. (Please note any additional nights will not be catered, we are happy to recommend some local places to eat).

All courses at Clayhill Arts are fully catered, and our locally-sourced food is included in the price of your course ticket. If you do choose to stay with us a bespoke evening meal as well as breakfast and lunch will also be provided. To read more about our food offering, follow this link. About our catering

Old clothes Apron Nitrile gloves

People who wish to gain an appreciation of how physical textures will affect coloured media when applied. People who want an understanding of fast and non-fast media and how they work with each other; how layering builds up the complexity as lower layers affect subsequent media; how this method can be used to experiment with any new media; how this method of working provides a good model for sketchbook work for anyone working primarily with texture in their work.

Yes! We provide refreshments throughout the day and a home-cooked lunch which is freshly prepared in our Granary kitchen. Lunch is served around our communal dining table, offering you a great chance to get to know everyone on the course and share in the making processes you have been developing throughout the day. Please advise us of any dietary requirements before arrival.

Yes! All of our bedrooms here at Clayhill are en-suite (single occupancy), so you will have your own private space to retreat to and relax in after spending your day in the meditative space of the Studio. We provide you with your own towels and bathroom products for use throughout your stay and you can enjoy the extensive grounds well into the evening. If you do choose to stay with us a bespoke evening meal as well as breakfast and lunch will also be provided.

Buy Tickets


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Course ticket - Poetry of Decay
3-day textiles art course with Christine Chester. Day-time access, 10am - 4pm for each of the 3 days (7th, 8th, 9th October 2022). Lunch included.
£ 350.00
8 available
Course Accommodation - Poetry of Decay
£80/night x 2 Nights of the 7th and 8th October Breakfasts, Lunches and Dinners provided.
£ 160.00
5 available
Extra night - before
An extra night before the start of the course. (6th October) Includes breakfast on the day the course begins.
£ 80.00
5 available
Extra night - after
Check out is at 10:30am on the 10th October An extra night after the course had ended. (9th October)
£ 80.00
5 available

We have also set up a payment plan so that you can spread the cost of the sessions over the next 4 months. You will find the option for doing this as you enter the checkout page.

Find out more about our Partial.ly Payment Plan here

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Working with Deborah and Michael was such a pleasure. They understood the project from the beginning, what the needs of the makers and our audiences would be, and acted as thoughtful ambassadors for the project when we were not able to be there. Every aspect of the exhibition and events was facilitated in such a calm and confident manner, which made my job of coordinating a group of artists so much easier! The whole event became a pivotal moment for the project, bringing people together in a way I could never have anticipated, and which has altered my thinking about the future of the project. Thank you for making us feel so welcome.


The weekend I spent at Clayhill Arts was a very welcome change of scenery to my otherwise urban setting. I felt calmed yet invigorated by the surroundings, and the accommodation was beautifully tasteful and very homely. The main space is wonderfully considered and very versatile - an ideal space for creativity and dynamic discussion. I left on the Sunday feeling energised and inspired by the experience of staying at Clayhill.


As a singer it has been one of the best spaces to sing in with generous reverberation and acoustics.  It is a space which complemented the type of instruments I was working with and the songs.


I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed being at your venue. It is a lovely and inspiring artistic space. The food was fantastic, homely yet unusual. I really enjoyed the day.


As an artist retreat, the venue at Clayhill Arts provided a warm and welcoming environment, allowing a safe and constructive space where individuals creative needs can be met. 


We were lucky enough to be able to take over the whole venue for a weekend, using the Granary as our base for experimentation, discussion and shared learning. The informality of the accommodation, and the relaxed surroundings, put everyone at ease and offered a space where cooperation and encouragement evolved naturally.


Everything was wonderful! This is a beautiful place. Thank you, we really enjoyed our stay.


Clayhill feels remote which is great but it also is close to Cannington which has everything, so supplies can be bought without travelling a great distance...I also really enjoyed that it is still a working farm, because it feels productive and there is such a lot of life around us which is very inspiring


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