Renee So

Renee So is West Dean College of Arts and Conservation’s Artist-in-Residence for 2019. The three-week residency took place in May 2019 will support a solo exhibition of So’s work at the De La Warr Pavilion in Autumn 2019, titled Ancient and Modern.

This collaboration between West Dean College of Arts and Conservation and the De La Warr Pavilion marked 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.

Renee So commented that: “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.”

The three-week residency provided 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.

On the announcement date, Alison Baxter, Head of School at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation said: ‘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.’

Work by New West Dean College of Arts and Conservation Artist-in-Residence, Renee So.

So utilised 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 So’s solo exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion in Autumn 2019, titled Ancient and Modern.

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. Anicent and Modern will demonstrate that the interdisciplinary innovation of the Bauhaus remains as relevant today as it did 100 years ago.

Head of Exhibitions at the De La Warr Pavilion, Rosie Cooper comments: ‘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.’

Click here to find out more about So’s Autumn 2019 exhibition, Ancient and Modern.

The College’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 Residency

A three-week residency in March 2019, with full board accommodation. The selected artist will have the option to return to West Dean College for one week during the Summer of 2019 to further support the solo exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion. Studio space is provided, and resident artists can access a variety of resources and facilities, including the historic West Dean House and the West Dean Collection and Archive.

The resident artist will also engage with students studying Visual Arts at West Dean College, from Graduate Diploma to MFA. This will include an artist’s talk, tutorials and/or a seminar, workshop or group critique. The amount of time expected to be allocated to these activities is equivalent to two full days.

The Exhibition

The exhibition will take place from October – December 2019 in the De La Warr Pavilion’s First Floor Gallery. The focus of the exhibition will be work produced during the West Dean College residency but may also include existing works. The project will form part of a year’s expanded thinking, through exhibitions, about the legacy of the Bauhaus through transdisciplinarity, new ways of living and working together, collaboration and experimental pedagogy. The current exhibitor in this space is Lucy Beech; previous exhibitors include Florence Peake, Caroline Achaintre, Cy Twombly, Cerith Wyn Evans and J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere.

  • Becky Beasley, Artist
  • Thom O’Nions, Co-Director, Sunday Art Fair
  • Rosie Cooper, Head of Exhibitions, De La Warr Pavilion
  • Sarah Hughes, Artist/Curatorial Assistant, West Dean College
Key Dates
  • Deadline for entries: Sunday 16 September 2018, midnight
  • Winner publicly announced: Thursday 18 October 2018
  • Residency at West Dean College: 4-24 March 2019 + one week during Summer 2019 if required
  • Exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion: October – December 2019
About West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation is an independent college with an international reputation for Arts and Conservation. Set within the historic and atmospheric West Dean House, the College provides an immersive environment with a forward-thinking approach, strong professional connections and a rich heritage of creativity.

Edward James, the founder of the College, was a poet, artist, designer and patron of the Surrealist Movement. During his lifetime he sponsored emerging artists and writers including Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Leonora Carrington, and John Betjeman. Today the College continues this work by supporting people to realise their creative ambitions and potential.