Clay sculpture: portrait head

Course Dates: 12/05/25 - 04/08/25
Time: 18:00 - 21:00
Location: Keeley Street
The head is the focal point of each person; create a portrait that examines both the structure as well as the emotion of the model.
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Full fee £549.00 Senior fee £439.00 Concession £357.00

Clay sculpture: portrait head
  • Course Code: VU792
  • Dates: 12/05/25 - 04/08/25
  • Time: 18:00 - 21:00
  • Taught: Mon, Evening
  • Duration: 12 sessions (over 13 weeks)
  • Location: Keeley Street
  • Tutor: Alexandra Harley

Course Code: VU792

Mon, eve, 12 May - 04 Aug '25

Duration: 12 sessions (over 13 weeks)

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

What is the course about?

The course is about developing skills in seeing and understanding three dimensional form by studying the life figure and portrait.

What will we cover?

Focussing on the portrait, the course will concentrate on one model and give you the chance to spend the term advancing your skills and getting to grips with portraiture.

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

- Make a suitable armature for a portrait head
- Understand the use of some of the muscles in the face
- Use clay effectively to enhance the mood and character of a portrait head
- Prepare the head for firing.

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

All ability levels are welcome.

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

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

Life modelling will be taught mainly on an individual basis, with group discussion on major topics concerned with life modelling. The emphasis will be on practice with guidance.

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

All essential materials and tools are provided.

You must wear flat sturdy shoes with a closed toe. Please also wear old working clothes that you do not mind getting messy or bring overalls.

We also recommend that you bring a sketchbook/notebook and pencils to sketch and make notes. A camera is also useful to photograph your work. 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. Near the end of the course you will be given dates and times by your tutor for 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, carving in stone and wood, mould making and casting, 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.