Clay sculpture: life and portrait

Course Dates: 11/09/23 - 27/11/23
Time: 18:00 - 21:00
Location: Keeley Street
Follow in the footsteps of Michelangelo and Rodin and learn how to capture the human figure, both physically and emotionally, on this fascinating practical sculpting course. You will work from a life model to develop your own clay sculpture of the human form.
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Full fee £499.00 Senior fee £399.00 Concession £324.00

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Course Code: VU790

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Finished Mon, eve, 11 Sep - 27 Nov '23

Duration: 12 sessions (over 12 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

A wonderful opportunity to work directly from a life model to observe the human form, study simple anatomy, and create a small sculpture in clay for firing at the end of the course. Suitable for all levels of experience, the sessions will concentrate on one pose giving you ample time to develop your observation and extend your skills; from manipulating the clay, to textural techniques, and how to prepare your work for firing.

What will we cover?

- Simple anatomy.
- Using clay effectively to create a small sculpture.
- Preparing the sculpture for firing.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Use basic anatomical awareness to inform your sculpture.
- Manipulate clay.
- Use a variety of textural techniques to enhance your sculpture.
- Prepare a sculpture for the kiln.
- Appreciate the work of other sculptors who have worked from the life model.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

All abilities welcome.

You will need to be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions to support demonstrations, for hand-outs and health and safety information, and to be prepared to take part in group discussion. You should be happy using numbers and able to do simple measurements and calculations.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will mainly be taught on an individual basis, with some group discussion. The emphasis will be on practice with guidance.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

All materials for the course are provided.

You must wear sturdy shoes that cover the whole foot (no open toe). Please also wear old working clothes or bring overalls.

At the end of the course your clay sculpture is fired to turn it to ceramic. Because the sculpture must be fully dry before it is fired it can be several weeks before it is ready. You will be told when your sculpture can be collected from the sculpture studio. Please note that the finished sculpture can be quite heavy and it is not possible for them to be posted by City Lit.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

The City Lit sculpture department offers a wide range of exciting courses that will allow you to progress from beginner to advanced and learn a range of techniques. After this course you may wish to join a similar course to develop your skills further or try something completely different. We offer courses in prop making, metal, clay, wax, carving in stone and wood, mould making and casting in Jesmonite, or pewter and much more! Alternatively, you may wish to progress onto the year-long City Lit Sculpture course VU841, which helps you to build your own individual sculpture practice.

We are constantly adding new courses. Please ask your tutor for advice or browse the City Lit website for inspiration. It is also possible to contact our visual arts team by emailing, or calling 0203 880 2415 Monday - Friday 10am - 5pm.

Alexandra Harley

Alexandra Harley is a sculptor with an immersive engagement with materials working in Stratford, London. She began teaching woodcarving at City Lit in 1985 and has taught other materials including bronze, stone and life modelling. She was elected to the Royal Society of Sculptors in 2000 and The London Group since 2017. She began studying sculpture at Wimbledon School of Art under Katherine Gilli and Glyn Williams and at St Martins School of Art under Tim Scott. Alexandra Harley has had several prestigious fellowships in Japan and the USA and was awarded the Brian Mercer Fellowship spending time in the Mariani Bronze Foundry, Italy, in 2016. Exhibitions include the ING Discerning Eye, Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Royal Society of Sculptors Summer Exhibition, Creekside Open, Cork Street Open and the London Group Open; she has an extensive international CV and work in private collections. Her sculptures seek the capture of a fleeting moment and engage with the suspension of movement by fixing a physical interpretation of a brief and transitory fragment in time. With an internal energy pulsing through the complex constructions, her sculptures evade a single analysis.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.