Ms Polly Macpherson

Ms Polly Macpherson

Associate Head of School - Enterprise

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

Polly can be contacted through arrangement with our Press Office, to speak to the media on these areas of expertise.
  • Design
  • Creative industries
  • 3D design
  • Designer maker practice
  • Mixed materials
  • Making
  • Craft and design processes
  • Design production


As Associate Head of School in the School Art, Design and Architecture Polly is leading the Enterprise & Creative Industries agenda developing Academic Excellence and External Enterprise/Creative Industries based activities.

As Associate Professor in Design & Award Leader for BA(Hons) Designer Maker; one of the 3D Design exit awards, Polly leads a group of internationally acclaimed practitioners who teach the thinking, inventing, designing, creating, manufacturing, constructing, building, producing and making of objects and artefacts.

Low Carbon Devon, Creative Industries Supervisor
Supported by an investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the three-year £2.6 million programme, supports Devon-based organisations to access research, business support, and engage with the University of Plymouth around the low-carbon agenda.



M.A. - University of Wales
B.A.(Hons) - University of Wolverhampton & California State University, Long Beach
Dynamics of Leadership Performance Coach - Cultural Leadership Prog. - Arts Council England, CCSkills & MLA funded. 

IDEO Business Innovation Certificate which included Designing a Business and Designing Strategy.

Automation Academic Fellow 2019 – South West Creative Technology’s Network
Conference Prize, Drawing Research Network, University of Brighton 2010
Deans Honours List for Excellence - California State University, Long Beach
The Watt Memorial Trust Award for Travel & Academic studies

Professional membership

Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy
Fellow Royal Society of the Arts
Council of Higher Education in Art & Design
National Association of Ceramics in Higher Education

Roles on external bodies

Judge – Channel 4, Kirstie’s Celebrity Craft Masters

EQ Arts Expert Reviewer - Enhancing Quality in the Arts

Judge - BBC Woman's Hour, Crafts Council and V&A Craft Prize woman-s-hour-craft-prize-2017

Creative Cultivator Advisor

Board of Trustees - The Devon Guild of Craftsmen.

Creative & Cultural Skills –Expert Advisor

Craft Council Hothouse 3, South West coordinator.

‘Get Fresh’ Exhibition sector, Emerging Designer Devon Guild of Craftsmen & Arts Council.

‘Craft+ STEM in the 21st century’, Crafts Council, Associate Parliamentary Design & Innovation Group, House of Commons
Contributor to Design Commission, Restarting Britain, Design Ed.& Growth.

Judge & selector, Contemporary Craft Festival

Consultant – Crafts Councils Higher Value: Redefining Best Practice in Crafts Graduate Support



Teaching interests

Polly is interested in how things are made, how things can be made ethically and sustainability and how this can be taught in order to nurture individuals and develop original creative voices.

Award Leader BA(Hons) Designer Maker
The Designer Maker course (one of the 3D Design exit awards) has a reputation for producing graduates who are individual, informed and understand how to be successful in creativity and business. It offers the opportunity for individuals to be the authors of their own artefacts whether for the one-off or multiple batch production.

Graduating students have achieved a wide range of progression opportunities including exhibitions, awards and employment: RSA Ceramics Future Design, Best Young Designer – Wallpaper, Lighting Association Design Award and Independent's Top 10 Sustainable Seating.

Graduates of the award include...
Bethany Isaac -
James Otter -
Josh Milton -
Laura Lane -
Barnaby Barford -
Gavin Keightley -
Sophie Coiley-

Award Leader MA Contemporary Designer Maker

Academic lead authoring MA Contemporary Designer Maker into the development of the MA Design award

Numerous External Student Engagement projects including…
Lead creative collaborations with Hole & Corner, Benchmark, Port Eliot Festival

London Craft Week collaboration with Hole & Corner, Steinway & co. – Barge house, Oxo Tower & The Chapel at House of St Barnabas, Soho, London.

LINLEY / SNOWDON Summer School

Staff serving as external examiners

Cambridge School of Visual & Performing Arts: MA Art & Design
Cardiff Metropolitan University: BA (Hons) Artist Designer Maker
University of Ulster: MFA Multidisciplinary Design
Liverpool Hope University: Design BDes (Hons)
Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts - Singapore: BA (Hons) Fine Art, Graphic Design and 3D Design New Practice
Loughborough University: BA (Hons)3D Design New Practice

External Expert/Assessor Quinquennial Review:
Hereford College of Art, University of Wales B.A.(Hons) Blacksmithing & BA(Hons)Contemporary Applied Arts



Research interests

Polly’s research and teaching are closely connected focusing around collaboration, processes of knowledge development and making.

Her current interests align with research thinking about archaeology, materiality, place and space with additional categories of Mapping, Journey and Movement; exploring the different ways in which these themes can be presented, organised and structured.

As a visual cartographer and maker she is interested in materials, in the processes of making, objects and new outcomes and how artefacts could/can be made/used to enhance and or change perceptions in or of environments and situations.
There are a variety of different ways in which she has successfully executed these ideas through the mixing of materials (concrete, clay, wood, combustibles) sound investigation & film / stills to produce objects, drawings and images.

SWCTN Fellowship -
Polly was awarded an Automation Academic Research Fellow with South West Creative Technology Network in April 2019 and has started exploring how automation developments are effecting the skills, creative ideas and processes of Designer Maker / Craft Practitioners in the South West.

The South West Creative Technology Network (SWCTN) is a £6.5million project to expand the use of creative technologies across the south west of England. The network is offering three one-year funded programmes around the themes of Immersion, Automation and Data.

Expected outcomes to include
- the advanced understanding of automation use and its relationship with making in the South West.
- the development of new sense and sense making creative outcomes : objects/artefacts
- shared discussions, findings, new knowledge and new collaborations, Human & Robotic

Polly is the Creative Industries lead for Low Carbon Devon Project (LCD) funded by European Regional development Fund (ERDF), managed by Sustainable Earth Institute. The aim of the project is to bring together University of Plymouth researchers, the Devon low carbon and energy sector and Creative Industries in order to support the opening of a new cluster of Low carbon Creative Industries.

Other research

Urban Dialogues Network

For further Exhibitions, Projects, Commissions, Consultancy & Creative Industry Projects please visit



Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Macpherson PL & Smith P 'Choosing materials for a guiding by things' PCA - Craft in an Expanded Field Open access
Macpherson PL & Persighetti S (2010) Reading THE BACKS. Exeter UK The Backs Index
Conference Papers
Macpherson PL & Smith P (2016) 'Can things be good tour guides?' International Research FORUM on Guided TOURS Estoril, Portugal 3-/-0/20153-/-0/2015Publisher Site
Macpherson PL (2010) 'Sound Line Transforming sound into lines/marks/2D/3D (Poster Submission)' Drawing Research Network Annual Conference “Observation, Mapping, Dialogue” University of Brighton 9-/-0/20109-/-0/2010Publisher Site
Macpherson PL & Persighetti S (2010) 'Reading THE BACKS' Creativity & Place conference Exeter University 6-/-0/20106-/-0/2010
Macpherson PL & Smith P 'Can things be good tour guides? 2' Plymouth College of Art, Making Futures 4: Craft and the return of the maker in a post-global sustainably aware society Plymouth College of Art 4-/-0/20154-/-0/2015Publisher Site
Envelope. Peninsula Art Gallery Plymouth UK 14/02/201632
'Trajectories - Future Pathways in Design'. Dutch Design Week 01/10/20156
New Economies New Ecologies. Salone Internazionale Del Mobile 14/04/20154
Cabinet: Connection and Collection. Peninsular Arts Gallery, Plymouth 14/05/2011Collection of Artist work - Clay & Framed drawings
Work in Progress Exhibition & Screening. The Devon and Exeter Institution, Exeter UK 12/11/201020
'things-meaning' Ambulation. Plymouth Arts Centre 14/08/201010
The Purpose of Drawing. The Cube Gallery, Plymouth University 07/06/20101
Exchange. Avenue Gallery, University of Northampton 11/01/20101
100 Devon Potters. Burton Art Gallery 14/05/20063
Drawing The Line. 08/10/20041
Macpherson PL Macpherson PL '‘Innovative Design of Traditional Crafts’' Author Site Open access
Other Publications
Hooper M (2016) The Makers’ Manifesto. Publisher Site
‘A Light Walk’.
'A Light Walk'.
Macpherson PL Academic / Research Lead London Craft Week 2016. Publisher Site
Macpherson PL Academic / Research Lead Port Eliot Festival 2016. Publisher Site
Macpherson PL Academic / Research Lead Port Eliot Festival 2017.
Mobile Machinoeki.
Things-Meanings Castle Drogo. Open access
Macpherson PL Woman’s Hour Craft Prize Judge 2017. Publisher Site


Reports & invited lectures

International Teaching and Lectures

Oct.-Nov. 2018
Guest Professor in Industrial Design at Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

Key note presentation 1st China Crafts week, Hangzhou China

Jan.- March 2011
Guest Professor in the Industrial Design Department, Faculty of Architecture at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.

Other academic activities

With an extensive career working in Higher Education Polly’s experience covers the delivery, development, validation and examination of courses and students at local, national and international level through to research activity and dissemination and creative industry lead projects.

As an active member of staff Polly’s current wider University responsibilities include ADA elected staff member of the Plymouth University’s Senate and member of Faculty of Arts & Humanities Advisory Board.

University Senate & Honorary Doctorate committee member, Chair of Peninsular Arts Galleries Programming Advisory Group, University of Plymouth Complaint & Appeals Board, Academic Lead for technical and making workshops, Plymouth Award Management Group, 3D Design Visiting Lecturer Programmer, UPC/University Link Academic Advisor Cornwall College, Petroc College & Truro College, Senior Management Team, Academic Promotions Board, Validations including MSc Paediatric Dietetics & MA CAP, TQA Faculty of Arts & Learning, Teaching & Research Forum 


Instagram @PollyMacpherson

Instagram @MacphersonPolly
Twitter @PollyMacp