Relational Arts & Organic Design

Course Availability: Full Time Part Time

Enquiry – Creativity – Purpose

'Beauty, meaning, purpose, goodness - these are matters of how things, processes, beings exist and change in relation to one another’ ~ Dr Philip Kilner, MD, PhD


Relational Arts & Organic Design

24 Sept 2018 to 14 Dec 2018

Relational Arts & Organic Design is an immersive twelve-week course exploring the relational nature of the world in which we live through a rich programme of nature-based crafts, expressive art and observational science.

In developing a deeper understanding of relatedness we can start to connect more fully with our own creativity and align our work more purposefully with the needs of our community, world and self.

Set in the gentle beauty of the Emerson College campus, the course provides students with the opportunity to step out of their daily life into a space of deep observation, insightful imagining and creative collaboration. Through new ways of perceiving, students are invited to deepen their creative skills and explore their sense of purpose.

During the course students will be taught techniques of perceptive questioning, relational observation, nature-based crafts and collaborative artistic practice through a sequence of themed modules. Experienced teachers and facilitators will act as guides and mentors for each theme, creating a pathway of exploration culminating in a final project based around the theme of ‘purposeful engagement’.



Open to all, this course is ideal for:

  • People who want to deepen their connection with nature, broaden their creative skills and renew their sense of personal purpose;
  • Artists, Craft Makers and Designers looking to develop a more socially engaged creative practice;
  • Scientist & Academics interested in exploring phenomenological and relational practices within a meaningful creative context;
  • Teachers, Community and Social Entrepreneurs and initiative-takers looking to develop a human-centred, creative practice.

Click here to find out more about ‘Thoughts on discovery through art and science’ by Dr Philip Kilner



The programme is composed of three four-week blocks built around the themes of Enquiry, Creativity & Purpose:

Block 1 - Enquiry: 4 x one-week open modules Block 2 - Creativity: 1 four-week open module Block 3 - Purpose: 1 four-week final project

Students can take part on either a full-time or a part-time basis, choosing one or more of the open modules from the first two blocks. Please note: Block 3 (four-week final project) is only open to students who have completed either Block 1 or Block 2.


BLOCK 1: Enquiry (4 x One-week Open Modules)

How can we gain a deeper understanding of the natural world?

How can we heighten the imaginative and creative faculties through which we experience and shape our world?

In the first block students will be invited to explore the four kingdoms of the natural world, opening up new possibilities of understanding and creative exploration.

Week 1 - Mineral:
24th - 28th Sept


Observation & Enquiry, Pigmentmaking, Clay modelling, Drawing and Geometry.

Week 2 - Plant: 
1st - 5th Oct


Observation & Enquiry, Pigment making, Basketry, Environmental Arts & Crafts, Plants in nutrition.

Week 3 - Animal:
8th - 12th Oct


Observation & Enquiry, Animal forms, Drawing, Painting, Modelling.

Week 4 -Human:
15th - 19th Oct


Human compared to animal form, Relational Exploration, Painting, Modelling, Cooking, Communication.


BLOCK 2: Creativity (1 x Four-week Open Modules)

How can we tap into our creativity to align our life and work with our values?

How can we open up our creativity in service of society, soul and sustainability?

In the second block students will engage in a journey of self-discovery, examining ideas of Creativity, Expression, Purpose & Community.

Week 5:
22nd - 26th Oct


Biography, Storytelling, Puppetry, Field trip.

Week 6:
29th Oct - 2nd Nov


Gesture, Movement & Music, Field trip.

Week 7:
5th - 9th Nov


Creative purpose, Glass making, Labyrinths, Field trip

Week 8:
12th - 16th Nov


Environmental & Community Art, Social Design.



BLOCK 3: Purpose

Weeks 9 - 12: 19th Nov - 14th Dec

In this final four-week block students will work on their own projects (individually or collaboratively) based on the theme of purposeful engagement.

During the last week students will work collectively on a group project creating a festival to celebrate the presentation of their final projects.



Course Leader: Dr Philip Kilner, MD, PhD

Artist-scientist with a background in science and medicine. Philip will be supported by a team of experienced Emerson tutors, including:

Vija Docherty   painting, pigments, basketry
Nick Weidmann   modelling, stone & wood carving
Francesca Profeti   community building
Daniel Docherty   geometry
Steve Briault   social design
Jonathan Soper   light and colour phenomena, glass carving

‘I had the privilege of attending a four- day workshop organised by Philip, during which I learnt of his important work in the field of morphodynamics and of his lifelong quest to reconcile visual arts and science, in service of community and the natural world.’ Wendy Cook



Full Time, 12 weeks: £2,500 Part Time

  • Block 1: £250 per 1-week module
  • Block 2: £850 (4-week module)

Bursaries may be offered on a discretionary basis. Please enquire.

*Accommodation & meals are not included within the course fees. Please visit for accommodation and meal prices.