Heatherleys School Of Fine Art

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The course is fantastic

3 and a half days a week. After Art College in the 70's. This place has been ver...more

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Introduction to Heatherleys School Of Fine Art

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"Heatherley’s is the oldest independent art school in London with a strong focus on portraiture, figurative painting and sculpture."


The Heatherley School of Fine Art is unique. Founded in 1845 it is the oldest independent art college in the country and has never lost its commitment to teaching the tradtitional techniques of figurative art. Drawing and observation from life is at the core of much of what we do here, whether it be sculpture, portrait painting or printmaking. We believe that by learning these fundamental skills our students have the best foundation on which to build  and develop their own artistic vision.
Famous alumni of the school include Henry Moore, Franz Kline, Burne Jones, Rossetti, Millais, Lord Leighton, and Sickert as well as the first Principal of the Slade School of Art, Sir Edmund Poynter and the first Principal of the Royal College of Art, Walter Crane.

At the same time as the French Impressionists were breaking away from the time-honoured traditional methods of teaching in Paris, Heatherleys School Of Fine Art was being conceived by James Matthews Leigh, an artist who had been to Paris and was so impressed by the French Atelier system and its usefulness in preparing students for their future careers as artists that he decided to transport it back to England. The group set about arranging drop in classes where practising artists would teach a group of students for a few days a week as a means of allowing students in England to benefit from the same methods. This system has remained central to the ethos of the school since its inception and the 'Open Studio' continues to be a useful resource for artists who wish to improve their practice.
What's on offer

Heatherley's offers a wide range of part-time and full-time courses. Classes include drawing, oil painting, printmaking, watercolour, figurative sculpture, ceramics, still life and portraiture.

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Subject Strengths

Heatherley's is unique in that our focus remains on  teaching the traditional skills of figurative and representational art, which are often neglected in modern art colleges.  By providing a solid techinical foundation we aim to equip our students with the tools they need to go on and develop their own artistic vision.

The School currently runs over 30 part time day and evening courses that run on a termly basis. These include oil painting, watercolour, life drawing, printmaking, ceramics, portraiture,  and sculpture.
Alongside the part time courses Heatherleys offers four full time courses - a two year diploma in portrait painting, a two year diploma in figurative sculpture, a two year diploma in painting and printmaking and a one year 'continuing studies' course which is perfect for those who want to prepare a portfolio to present for a degree course.

During August the school runs a series of week long summer programmes.

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Student life

Camilla Cannon - Portrait Diploma student

'Doing the Portrait Diploma at Heatherleys has been a life-changing and transformative experience for me. I arrived at Heatherleys as a complete novice, and slowly, and at times suddenly, have gained knowledge, insight and understanding. I have surprised myself and most of all been in the presence of true greatness, both in my fellow students and tutors alike.

Now in my 2nd year I have come to a place where I feel like an artist, not an art student. The course enables the student to find one's own visual language and explore a myriad of ways to approach painting the figure in oils.

I have found the teaching to be inspirational and thorough. Having a variety tutors over the 2 years means there is no house style and no opportunity to become complacent. The tutors are honest; though supportive they are not there to hold your hand. This makes for strong students and a healthy student/tutor relationship. Ideas are thrashed out and many breakthroughs are made.

As the school is very well connected in the London figurative art scene it is a great way to make useful contacts and launch your career as a painter. I have met some wonderful people who I will stay in touch with long after I have graduated from the school. One of the most important things I will take away from my time at Heatherleys is that through dedication, commitment and an open mind one can go places that you never thought possible.'

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Heatherleys moved to a brand new purpose-built school in 2008, the first to be built in London since the Royal College of Art. It benefits from large studios with great natural light as well as student common areas and an outdoor terrace. In total there are four painting studios, two sculpture studios, a library and lecture hall. The printmaking studio has a range of photo emulsion, film and plate available, as well as a Parker plate maker and a Natgraph screen exposure unit.


Located in Chelsea, only 10 minutes walk from Fulham Broadway tube station, Heatherleys is easily accessible by public transport. The new Imperial Wharf overland station is just 4 minutes away and there are numerous buses, including the C3 which has a request stop right outside the building. The school is in an enviable central London position, a short way from the river with fantatic views toward the Albert Bridge. The V&A, Natural History museum, Holland Park and Hyde Park are all within easy reach.

How to enrol

Enrolment takes place throughout the year and can either be done in person or over the phone.

There are no cut-off dates for our diploma courses, however places are limited so we do recommend registering an interest as soon as possible.

Open days

The school does not have specific open days. However we are always happy to show prospective students around the college during lunchtimes, or between 4pm and 5pm. Please phone the office in advance to let us know you will be coming.
020 7351 490

Garan Davis - Student Story

Garan Davis
Sculpture Diploma

Heatherley’s is a great school to attend for the student with aspirations in pursuing a career in art. Classes are set within a friendly social environment where students will feel at ease while attending class. Also Heatherley’s newly built school provides a sunny, clean and safe atmosphere.

During the two-year Sculpture Diploma course, teachers work in concert to elicit skills from the student and harbour their creativity. The faculty’s wide bank of knowledge and experience, combined with a course rooted in traditional and contemporary practices, provides a truly unique experience. This is also reinforced with a highly generous amount of studio time for second year sculpture students.

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Contact Details

The Heatherley  School of Fine Art
75 Lots Road
SW10 0RN

Tel: 020 7351 4190

Email: 020 7351 4190