New: Altered Books

This 2-day workshop will start with a look at the genres of Artist and Altered Books. Materials will be provided to make your own altered book sculpture using existing books and parts of books. (Please note this is not a book-making workshop).

Who is this course for

This course is suitable for beginners and those with previous experience of craft and sculpture projects. It is aimed at those who are interested in contemporary or conceptual art, and want to learn more about - and practice the technique of - artists who use books in their artworks. The course consists of 2 x Saturday workshops, which should be attended consecutively. Altered Books will introduce the history and concept of artists' books and altered books, to show how books and parts of books can be used as a raw material for sculpture and mixed media art. Students will be supported to make their own experimental artworks, following demonstrations of the techniques and processes.

Please note that Altered Books is NOT a book-making workshop and does not include papermaking, or printing.

No previous experience is necessary, however, a certain degree of manual dexterity to handle a craft knife, and other hand tools will be an advantage. Use of these tools will be taught in the classes, and students will be supported to learn them on the course.

What does this course cover

The course will start with a short introduction to the history and concepts of artists' books and altered books, to inspire ideas and discussion about this contemporary art form. Following demonstrations of possible techniques and processes, students will then have the opportunity to create their own artwork based on a book (or a number of books), using the materials provided. In the second and final class, students will have time to plan and execute a more sustained artwork in their own style, using their own materials if desired. At the end of the course, we will hold an informal review/exhibition of students' finished books, to recognise and share individual achievements and celebrate successes.

By the end of the course you should be able to:

1. Understand the history and theory behind the artists' book/ altered book art form
2. Create your own artist book or altered book sculpture or mixed media artwork

What will it be like

In the first class, the history and concept of artists' books and altered books will be introduced, and some of the techniques and processes will be demonstrated. Students will then have the opportunity to create their own artwork, using the materials provided. In the second and final class, students will have time to plan and make their own unique altered book/ artists' book, using their own materials if desired. There will be a lunch break from 1-2pm, and informal coffee break for those who want them during each session.

This is not an accredited course but progress will be informally monitored by the tutor. At the start of the course there will be a short questionnaire to establish personal goals for the course, and any particular needs or aspirations students may have. This will help the tutor to best support all students.

Assessment is informal, and takes the form of a review and discussion of students' work at the end of the course. This is important in developing understanding and also helps students gain confidence. Students will receive verbal feedback from the tutor about their progress.

What else do you need to buy or do

Materials will be provided, but for the second class you may wish to bring your own:
1. Second hand book(s)
2. Textiles or interesting paper for collage
3. Bits and bobs to add to sculptures

Useful items to bring if you have them:
1. a good craft knife, carpet knife or scalpel (plus spare blades)
2. a small cutting mat
3. a metal ruler
Total cost = approx £20

There will be no compulsory 'homework' set, but students will be encouraged to continue to explore their ideas and practise techniques between classes where possible. They will also be encouraged to visit relevant exhibitions and museums to gather inspiration for their artwork.

What this course could lead to

No qualification is gained, but this course can help students to progress to other art or art history courses at Mary Ward Centre, including Level 2 and 3 courses, if appropriate. This course is also suitable for aiming to build up a portfolio of diverse mixed media work.

There is detailed information in Reception about all our courses at the Mary Ward Centre and a library of prospectuses for other London colleges to help you continue your studies. If you need more detailed advice, please ask a member of reception staff, and a half-hour guidance interview can be arranged for you.
Information about other learning opportunities can be obtained from Learn Direct: tel: 0800 101 901, and from the following websites:;

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I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

MWC student

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

Why come to Mary Ward Centre?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening or weekend to suit your timetable.

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’