Mrs Esther Dudley

Mrs Esther Dudley

Lecturer in Design History

School of Art, Design and Architecture (Faculty of Arts & Humanities)


Co-ordinator of all graphic design undergraduates' studies in design research, lecturer in history and theory of art and design.
2008 started teaching on MA in Communication Design. Module leader for MACD 502.MACD 504.
2010 teaching MA Publishing, module leader MAPU507 and MAPU510

2012 teaching MAPU , module leader MAPU712, 715 and strand leader Design Commentary

For many years Esther has been responsible for a visiting lecturer programme in design research and cultural context. This has featured a large number of very influential designers, including appearances by James Ravilious, David Gentleman, Peter Greenway ( BBC) Mark Chaudoir ( BBC) James Woudhuysen, Andrew Davidson, Mike Krage, Leo de Frietas, Michael Johnson (Johnson Banks), Geoff Grandfield, Paul Slater, Harry Cory Wright, Angus Hyland, Nico Macdonald, Alex Cameron, David Chandler, Mark Power, Ian Whadcock, Si Scott, Peter Higgins (Land Design Studio) Frank Furedi, Rob O'Connor (Stylorouge), Paul Barnes (Modern Typography), Phil Baines, Andy Stevens (GTF) Mark Chalmers ( Perfect Fools) and Tom Hunter ( 3 visits ).
The 2010/11 lecture season started with a lecture by Sam Winston. The press release for his exhibiton at Kaleid editions, Redchurch St. London E2 quotes Esther's article published In Varoom 14 December 2010. "His methods of production are certainly of our time...concepts...emerge through his interrogation, until they are utterly logical and clear."
The season continued with guest lecturers Mark Girvan ( Buddy Creative) and Alex Cameron ( a second visit ). David Crow made semiotic great sense and Gordon Young stunned us with scale.

The 2011/12 lecture season started with a compelling talk by the artist Ellen Bell. Lida Cardoso Kindersley lectured on her famous studio's lettercutting and Izhar Cohen, an internationally respected illustrator, gave a show spanning his long career.

2012/13 lecture season started with guest lecturer, designer Phil Cleaver 
(et al Designs) and continued with Amelia Costley and John Spencer (Spencer du Bois) on ethical branding.
Matt Wade ( Kin ) continued the series in the new year, followed by Matt Hocking ( Leap ) and concluded with Paul Barnes, multi award winning type designer.

2013/14 lectures were given by Andy Lawrence, Mark Girvan (of Buddy), John Spencer ( off the top of my head), Professor Stephen Sterling from the Institute for Sustainability and Steve Smith( Neasden Control Centre.

2014/15 started with Justin Bovington ( Wonder room,ICCI and Affinity ), continued with Henry Jasper (designer, publisher and founder of Grublin Games ), Neil Tinson (designer and founder of The Guild of Sage & Smith) and Graham Deakin, PhD student at UC Lancs. Design and elections - the demise of the 48 sheet election poster.

Selected and curated a photographic exhibition by Harry Cory Wright in the Clifford Fishwick Gallery, Exeter.
Also brought exhibitons to the Clifford Fishwick Gallery by illustrators Geoff Grandfield and Paul Slater.

Professional membership

Member of the UK Association for Publishing Education from Sept. 2010

Committee member of the above since Dec. 2011

Associate editor of Varoom.lab since 2010 ( published by the Association of Illustrators )

Marketing officer for Association for Publishing Education since Sept. 2016

Roles on external bodies

parish councillor, St Mabyn 1993 - 1997

school governor, Wadebridge School 1995 - 2006

school governor member of Cornwall Schools Organisation Committee, County Hall, Truro 2003-2006

Member of Cadon Chamber Choir
Secretary of the Committee of the Friends of St Mabyn Church 

Chair of the Friends of St Mabyn Church since 2014

Ongoing contribution to the church renovation project - part funded by English Heritage and organised the restoration and cleaning of 19thc. oil painting donated to the church at beginning of 20thc.

Contributor to the lecture lunch series at St Mabyn, in aid of funds for continuing renovation of the parish church

Appointed to the board of Trustees of Cornwall Crafts Association, September 2014

Teaching interests

My teaching has always centred on developing students' awareness of the cultural context for their own work and the role of the designer within art and deisgn history. Crucial to this understanding is the ability to be analytical and to be able to apply criticism through a range of methodologies. In teaching design research with the main outcomes being written essays, critiques and reports, the intention is to develop clear communication, by which the individual students can be understood by their research as well as their design work.

Design Research co-ordinator for Graphic Design, Typography, Photography and Illustration, 1995 - 2008. Design Research co-ordinator for Graphic Communication with Typography since 2008. Design Research tutor and lecturer for MACommunication Design 2008 - 2011. Module leader and Design Commentary strand leader for MA Publishing, since 2009.

Staff serving as external examiners

Appointed as external examiner at UCA Epsom, 2009 - 2012.  First Interim visit  to UCA, Epsom, March 2009 and continuing role with subsequent interim and award board visits and scrutiny of Contextual Studies modules.

External academic at London College of Communication, UAL, validation of MA Publishing, February 2016.

External Examiner at LCC,UAL MA Publishing appointed May 2016 for 2017 - 2020

Research interests

Occasional guest editor of The Journal of the Association of Illustrators.

Ongoing research into the use of illustration in newspapers, specifically The Times; historical and contemporary study of illustrators'role.

Collaborated on Blessed Memory exhibition of photographs of carved letterforms in slate, wrote exhibition catalogue.

Continued research into how theory and history of the subject inform and influence practitioners.

Ongoing interest in Rural Futures network and interaction of academic role with rural life in Cornwall

Researched and wrote Show and Tell, presented to Message Research seminar, February 2009, a  paper investigating the history of the Royal Cornwall Show, its contemporary significance and the systems by which it could employ graphic design to emphasis its educative and informative purpose. N.B. This paper was scheduled to be presented at the DCA conference in Atlanta, March 2009, but the UoP Faculty of Arts research committee withheld funding, on grounds of expense.

Exhibited in research group Message's first exhibition April 2009 at UoP. First stage of Designing Music, ongoing research

Exhibited in Message 32, April 2010, Notes on Notes, second stage of Designing Music research and a paper already presented at Message 31, March 2010. 

Third Message research group exhibition in March 2011,Crosspoint, University of Plymouth, exhibiting a fragment of 15thcentury illumination, with accompanying essay to be published in Varoom 15, April 2011

Curating an exhibition of four Cornish artists' work, which directly references the geology of Cornwall. Entitled Terrain, the exhibition will be from mid September to mid December, 2014 at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro. Artists: Jenny Beavan ( ceramicist ) Paul Jackson ( potter ) Adam Pedley ( photographer) and Lar Cann ( painter ).

 TERRAIN is open until 27 February 2015 at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro.

Curated RED ( The Other Clay ) an exhibition of the work of 14 potters from the Netherlands, France, Scotland, Shropshire, Devon and Cornwall who work in red clay. At the Cornwall Crafts Association Trelowarren Gallery form 21 June to 9 August 2015

Current scholarlyactivity:

 Academic consultant member of working partyfor long term regeneration of the St Austell Bay area based on the history of ChinaClay mining and its place in contemporary industry, pharmaceuticals andtechnology. Group led by Tim Smit (Eden) and James Staughton, (St AustellBrewery). Numerous sponsors including European Union and Cornwall CountyCouncil.


Now on organisingcommittee of Whitegold, an active symposium , October 2016,  of walks and artistic production within theclay villages and unused clay pits of the St Austell Bay area. Invitees includeBritain’s best-known land artist, poets, sculptors, potters, authors,photographers and film makers. Proposed sponsors – Imerys (tbc) and others asabove.

Currently working withEmma Bridgewater and Barney Duke-Hare, of the British Ceramics Biennial, tointegrate a Cornish event into the biennial currently held at Stoke on Trent,but will incorporate St Austell Bay in 2017

Research papers:

A report: Using the Knowledge ExchangeNetwork for Moderation within the University of Plymouth Colleges Art andDesign Critical and Contextual Studies Subject Association. Supported by HELP CETL, directed by Nick Davey, collaborated with Dr Suzanne Nunn ( CornwallCollege) and Trish Woods ( South Devon College) December 2007.

A research report on the use of video conferencing  to introduce potential progression students from the UoP partner colleges to a selected group of third year students in the Graphic Communication with Typography (BA Hons). In collaboration with Dr Suzanne Nunn,( Cornwall College ).  Video conferencing facilities providedby HELP CETL, sessions conducted in Autumn term 2008. Research report presentedat U o P Partner Colleges  Arts Forum, The Great Barn, July 2008.

Presented The Meaning of Text as Image at the First International Conference of Semiotics in Visual Communication at the University of Technology, Limassol, Cyprus, 24 - 27 November 2011.

Presented The Meaning of Text as Image at the 6th International Conference of Design Principles and Practices at UCLA, California 20 - 22 January 2012. Submitted to Common Ground publishers 15 Feb 2012

Terrain, a paper on Art referring to the geology of Cornwall, accepted in April 2013 for the 8th Conference of Design Principles and Practices ot be held at UBC, Vancouver, 18 - 20 January 2014 ( see research notes above )

Red ( The Other Clay ) essay and catalogue. June 2015. 

Other research

Researching an academic paper on the history of sheet music and its design forms , from early renaissance manuscripts to modern day. This project is called Designing Music and was greatly helped by meeting and interviewing Jean a composer,concert pianist and music publisher who created Visible Music.

Expanding In Blessed Memory research into area of stone letter cut signage, wayfinding and public information in the countryside. This has developed into an academic paper which discusses the value of such a survey  in the teaching of typographers. It has contributions from Paul Barnes

 Currently looking at Broadside Ballads and the impact of printing on the production of sheet music.
Good background reading:  Dr. Leo John De Freitas, The Banbury Chapbooks 2004, Banbury Historical Society,
Rob Young, Electric Eden 2010 Faber & Faber

 Appointed to advisory board of Design Management Institute's Educational Conference, held in Boston, USA, July 2012
 Associate editor on following from14 Feb 2013:

Thank you for your contribution to the refereeing process for The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design.

In recognition of the important role of referees, the International Advisory Board and the Managing Editor of The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design have acknowledged your contribution by listing you as an Associate Editor in Volume 6, Issue 1 of The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design. Once this volume is complete, the full list of Associate Editors will be included on our website:

Participant in Plymouth University's Rural SIG symposium, March 2013

Negotiated the transferral of the Marjory Blamey archive of original botanical illustrations to the Faculty of Arts on permanent loan to Plymouth University, January 2014. Now the archivist and curator of a future exhibition of this world class collection.

Research groups

  • Message

Dudley,E Mealing,S Becoming Designers,Intellect 2000

Dudley,E Intelligent Shape Sorting chapter in Becoming Designers, Intellect 2000

Dudley,E Criticism and Judgment in The Predicament of Beginning Portland State University 2002

Beament,J Dudley,E In Blessed Memory exhibition catalogue 2001

edited The Journal of the Association of Illustrators Nov 2003, May 2003, May 2002 and contributed reviews and articles in various editions since 1999

The AOI online Journal: reviews of New Blood, D&AD graduates' exhibition 2005

Review of Fried Eggs in Brine, by Paul Slater, March 2006.

Review of Alan Male's Illustration: a Theoretical and Contextual Perspective, August 2007.

Review of Icons of Graphic Design by Steven Heller and Mirko Ilic for Varoom-online and the AOI, June 2008

Writing With Intent a paper for discussion in the design criticism/wriitng cluster at New Views 2, July 2008, published in conference proceedings

Words As Image & Object: an analysis of the work of Sam Winston, 
in Varoom, issue 14, Dec 2010

The Meaning of H: research into the context of a 15th c. decorated initial  and the production of illuminated music manuscripts, in Varoom issue 15, April 2011 

The Meaning of Text and Image final edited version sent to typesetter on 20 May 2013, for publication by Common Ground.

The Meaning of Text and Image: a semiotic analysis of text as language and image Published in The International Journal of Visual Design Vol 6 Issue 3 Aug 2013

RED ( The Other Clay ) an illustrated article in My Cornwall May 2015

Reports & invited lectures

Invited to give conference paper at 18th National Conference on the Beginning Design Student, University of Portland, Oregon, March 2002.

Invited to form discussion group at conference of The Design Management Institute, Frankfurt, November 2000
Presented conference paper at the Royal West of England Academy  and UWE Identities in British Art ,October 2006
Presented "In Blessed Memory "at St Mabyn Parish Church as an event supported by Cornish Historical Churches Trust, April 2007
Presented conference paper at "Rural Futures" conference April 2008
Presented conference paper at New Views 2, LCC, London July 2008
Involved in formation of a proposed research instiute/group led by Rural Futures, June 2008

Invited to Design Communication Association 2009 conference,Atlanta, Georgia , USA to present paper Design/Show/Tell and paper will be published March 2009 as part of conference proceedings

Invited as speaker at the First International Conference of Semiotics in Visual Communication, Cyprus University of Technology, Limassol, Cyprus, 24 - 27 November 2011.

Invited and presented paper at 6th Design Principles and Practices conference at UCLA, January 2012

Invited to present paper at 6th design Principles and Practices conference, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, January 2014

Interviewed and broadcast by Radio Cornwall, 10 October 2014, about the curating of Terrain exhibition

Other academic activities

Served as external academic panel member on validation of new MA awards and reapproval of existing MAs at the Arts Institute, Bournemouth, April 2009

Member of Faculty of Arts (UoP) Research Bids and Allocation of Funding committee appointed Nov 2009

 Member of T & L committee reviewing dissertation supervision documents for implementation across the faculties of the University of Plymouth appointed Jan 2010

Academic staff member of Faculty Board (Faculty of Arts,UoP) from March 2010

Member of UoP rare books and collections committee since 2008

Served on a number of interview panels and have passed HR e-learning course on recruitment and appointment/ diversity and equality

Panel member for re-approval of MA DE in the school of Architecture and Design, November 2012 

Member of examination and assessment working party 2011 and 2012

External academic at London College of Communication, UAL, validation of MA Publishing, February 2016.

Additional information

Note that the above mentioned  Research group Message held its first exhibition of members' research projects, at the Sherwell Centre, UoP, April 2009. I exhibited an essay : 'Five Easy Pieces and Hundreds More' and artefacts from my sheet music archive .

Past teaching experience was gained in international schools in Sao Paulo, Brazil ( 1981 - 5 ) Sigtuna, Sweden ( 1987 - 9 ) and at Falmouth College of Arts (1990 - 1995 ) 
 In  September 2010 I retraced my steps around the southern area of Brazil and have made links with Rio based designer, Claudio at Chacundum, for the purpose of broadening our students understanding of graphic design in South America.