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Introduction to Short Courses Summer 2018 Art and Anatomy The Archaeology of the Self Introduction to Life Drawing Chinese Calligraphy and Landscape Painting Deconstructing the Cubist Still Life Exploring the Exotic Still Life Botanical Drawing The New Sylva: Drawing Trees with Sarah Simblet The Drawing Book Life Drawing - term-time classes

The Archaeology of the Self

Running from Monday 13 to Friday 17 August, this intensive five-day non-residential mixed-media course will be led by Eleanor Crook, forensic artist, sculptor and mixed-media artist. Eleanor's background in Classics, philosophy, art history and anatomy makes her an ideal teacher to encourage, guide and facilitate others on a personal quest to synthesize the personal and broader context of cultural history.

Based in the Ruskin School of Art’s studios, participants will explore assemblage (painting-sculpting-drawing-collage) to develop an Archaeology of the Self, drawing inspiration from the unique museums of Oxford.

You will be working at The Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Ashmolean Museum, and the Museum of the History of Science. These historic and curious collections within the University of Oxford offer a treasury of inspiration, wherein an artist can explore and discover a unique personal voice and modus operandi.

The course will excavate the artist/ maker/ self, as a layered history of memories, ideas, learnings, and collected objects.  Participants will be taught a working process, and create a body of work like a personal archaeological museum – unique to each person, and universal in its connections with our shared history and cultures.  You will leave the course with your own collection of your Self, including a personal effigy or totem, and a portfolio of images and objects.

Teaching in assemblage and mixed media will form the basis of this course, but this is primarily a space for experimentation and development, where participants will be generating a personal imagery, under the guidance of Eleanor and guest speakers.  It will allow you to open your practice beyond representation, technique and commercial concerns.  In particular, the course will emphasize the value of crafted images and artefacts, putting the digital aside for the duration of the five days to reconnect with the power of the handmade.


  • Each day will begin at 10am and continue til 5pm
  • Day 1
  • Introductory Workshop at the Pitt Rivers Museum
  • Day 2
  • Exploration of another University collection; afternoon in the Ruskin studios
  • Day 3  
  • Morning in a museum; afternoon in the studios
  • Day 4
  • Studio day (with the option to return to museums), to develop your personal project, under the guidance of Eleanor
  • Day 5
  • Studio day, concluding with final group 'show-and-tell' of your personal 'museum' created during the Archaeology of the Self.

This course will include:

Museum visits to discover your personal interests and relations to imagery and history to cultural and historical artefacts, with drawing sessions

Atelier sessions in the Ruskin’s studios, allowing space and scope for experimentation, guided and encouraged by Eleanor

Illustrated lectures and presentations by Eleanor and guests on cultures, beliefs and making practices; materials exploration, drawing, experimental approaches with paint and collage, 3D and assemblage

An Automatic Painting session responding to projected imagery

Development of a sketchbook and a portfolio of images and objects which connect your personal passions  and reflect your psychology and vision

Sculpting a personal effigy/totem figure

Film screenings of some dreamlike avant-garde classic works (Cocteau, Tarkovsky, the Brothers Quay, Jodorovsky)

Essential course materials will be provided, including paper, glue, pens and ink, brushes and paint, but participants are encouraged to bring a sketch-book of their preferred size, and their own materials, trash and treasures from which to begin assembling their work.  

This course will be especially suitable for artist-practitioners interested in site-responsive work, especially embedded in museums; for students wanting to bring depth to their portfolios; and most of all, for people who want to use art to enrich their personal insight and development.

Wow!!! Perfect - all of it. Trips to museums, films, group chats, studio free for all. Exceeded expections. Course participant 2017

All was fabulously thought through and delivered. All the talks and lectures were relevant and fed into the creative output. Course participant 2017

For more information about Eleanor Crook, please see her website.

Teaching is based in the Ruskin's studios at 74 High Street, Oxford OX1 4BG. Teaching takes place from 10am til 5pm, but the studios are open from 9am-5pm for personal study. Light refreshments are available all day. Lunch is not provided but can be purchased from a range of nearby cafes and delicatessens.

Tuition is in English. No academic or artistic criteria are required for attendance on this course although all participants must be 16 years old and over. Please be aware that there is limited disabled access at the Ruskin.


Booking a Place

Booking is done through the University of Oxford's online store.   We regret that the Ruskin cannot reserve places or take payment for bookings. 

There are three payment rates available :

i) Standard Adult : £780.00

ii) Oxford University students, staff and alumni (10% discount) : £700.00

iii) Students (with a current NUS card) and OAPs (5% discount) : £740.00

If you select a discounted booking rate, you will need to present your University alumni/staff card, NUS card, or some form of identification indicating your OAP status at the start of the course.

These courses are non-residential – participants must arrange their own travel and accommodation.   To enjoy the full Oxford University experience, we recommend booking accommodation in nearby colleges through University Rooms (guests must be 21 or over, or accompanied by someone over 21).


Cancellation Policy

For information on the Ruskin's cancellation policy in relation to the summer courses, please refer to the short course introductory page