Course Code SC2104253
Tutor Ellen Christiansen
Course Dates Monday - Friday, 15th - 19th August 2022
Days 5
Times 9.45am - 4.45pm
Experience Level Advanced
Fee £375
Location Art Academy London, 165A Mermaid Court, SE1 1HR

Portrait sculpture is an immensely absorbing and enjoyable discovery with every new sitter. This course aims to build upon your previous experience [Intermediate/Advanced] to further how to observe and translate your observation into a clay portrait sculpture from a life model. Refresh, renew or find alternative ways of looking through group and individual discussion with your experienced tutor, Ellen Christiansen, member of Society of Portrait Sculptors and winner of the 2014/15 Founders’ Sculpture Prize and winner of Heatherley’s Prize 2018. Setting out a head from a structural point of view with a clear path of constructive method of approach, you will benefit from exploring with a professional sculptor to help build upon your own sculptural progression.

Studying the human head is a doorway to a world of exciting sculptural possibilities. Ellen employs a measuring technique used for scaling up (and down) and in stone carving. Looking at the head through this technique, preconceived notions are challenged and one begins to develop a heightened awareness of structure, form and symmetry. In addition to guiding each student individually, Ellen will also be demonstrating how she uses this ‘box measuring’ technique by working on her own portrait over the 5 days. Please be aware that on Friday the class will finish at 4.30pm.

There will be the option to leave your finished sculpture for hollowing and firing for an additional fee.

What level is this course?

This course is suitable for students at our Advanced level.

  • Advanced

    Choose our Advanced courses if you have considerable knowledge in the taught medium. You are expected to be able to work independently and have critical discussions around your work.

     Our Advanced courses include our Masterclasses.

Other course levels include:

  • Beginner

    Choose a Beginners course if you are looking for a broad introduction to the medium you are studying. Students spend time learning the very basics of the taught medium, for example, how to mix colours, use different tools, set up an easel. Our Beginner courses are suitable for students with no prior experience, they tend to follow a more structured path than our other courses, ensuring each student receives the guidance they need from the tutor.

  • Beginner +

    Choose a Beginner + course if you are looking to hone your skills, focus on a specific subject area and build your confidence. These courses are suitable for those with some basic skills in and knowledge of the taught medium, but still follow a structured path with guidance from the tutor.

  • Intermediate

    Our Intermediate courses are suitable for students who have considerable prior knowledge of the taught medium or have completed a Beginners/Beginners + course with the Art Academy.

    These courses tend to be less structured and instead are tailored to the classes’ needs and the direction they want to advance in. Choose an Intermediate course if you are looking to improve your skills and have more critical discussions around the work you produce.

All attendees must be aged 18 or over.

What should I bring?

You should bring as much from the below list as possible. In some cases we can provide selected equipment:

  • Wooden clay modeling tools
  • Callipers for measuring (medium-sized)
  • Metal tape measure
  • Wire cutter
  • Water spray bottle
  • Masking tape
  • Black bin liner
  • Drawing tools (pencil, pen, or charcoal)
  • Sketchpad / loose leaf paper
  • Apron or old clothing
  • Camera for documenting your progress

Students wishing to take their sculpture away with out hollowing and firing at the Academy (the cost of this is £20 for hollowing and £20 for firing) must bring their own bust peg please. The Art Academy provides bust pegs for the course which cannot be taken away as these are needed for future courses. There will not be an option to purchase these. You will need to decide how you are going to take your sculpture home (if you are not leaving for hollowing and firing). The best way is to carry in the boot of a car with ballast to weigh-down the base (bags of clay are ideal) or on the backseat with a pillow between the sculpture and car seat.

About Your Tutor


Ellen Christiansen is a figurative sculptor working from life.

She was trained at Camberwell School of Art by Brian Taylor. During 2010 she worked alongside him on portraits of his sons and in 2011 she spent a year in Taylor’s studio. During that time she made a sculpture of his dog Lily under his guidance.

Ellen is a member of  the Society of Portrait Sculptors and was given the Talos Award 2011 for the best non member newcomer. She was awarded the Founders’ Sculpture prize 2015 and won the Heatherley’s Prize  2018.



Mermaid Court

165A Borough High Street
London SE1 1HR
tel: +44 (0) 207407 6969

Nearest Tube/ Rail: London Bridge or Borough (both a 5 minute walk).

Please note that London Bridge has two exits, the most direct route is to follow signs to “Borough High Street”.

Art Academy Map

Refreshments and Facilities

You are welcome to use our Common Room/ The Barn during break times, where you can prepare hot drinks and/or food.

Students will also be able to use the coffee machine, where free hot water, and paid-for hot drinks are available.

Students are encouraged to bring their own reusable mugs and water bottles where possible.

Further Details

  • You will need to have paid in full before the first session of your class. Your place is not guaranteed until we have received full payment.Please book early in order to guarantee your place on the course.
  • If you purchased a pack online this will be given to you on the first session of your course upon your arrival. Packs can be booked on our Materials Page or on this page when you book the course.
  • Please don’t wear your best clothes as there is always a chance you will get messy. If possible bring an apron or overalls.
  • All artwork at the Academy MUST be taken home at the end of the course or it will be disposed of.
  • Please ensure that your mobile phone is switched off or is on silentduring the class.
  • Health and Safety Guidelines will be provided to you at the beginning of your class.
  • Sometimes our photographer will pop in to get some of our classes in progress. If you would like to not be photographed please let the photographer know!
  • To find out more about what’s going on at the Academy follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. If you’d like to share images of your course, your progress or your finished work we’d love to see them! Please bear in mind you must have the permission of tutors, other students and models to photograph them.
  • If you would like more information or advice on courses at the Academy please contact


Places Available!

Fee: £375.00