Ms Polly Macpherson

Ms Polly Macpherson

Associate Head of School - Enterprise

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


Associate Head of School - Enterprise
Associate Professor of Design 
Award Leader BA(Hons) Designer Maker

Polly is Associate Head of School for Enterprise within the School of Art, Design & Architecture and is leading development in following three areas: 
Academic Excellence, Sustainable Growth and Reputation Building.

As Associate Professor of Design & Award Leader for BA(Hons) Designer Maker 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.


MA Ceramics - University of Wales

BA (Hons) 3D Design - University of Wolverhampton & California State University, Long Beach 

Dynamics of Leadership Performance Coach - Cultural Leadership Prog. - Arts Council England, CCSkills & MLA funded.      

CG7307/02 Teaching Cert. SDC/Plymouth University Preparing for business N.V.Q. 3


Winner of 2010 Conference Prize, Drawing Research Network, University of Brighton.

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
National Association of Ceramics in Higher Education
Council of Higher Education in Art & Design

Roles on external bodies

Role Model - Aurora Advanced HE, development programme for all people who identify as a woman.

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

Creative Cultivator Advisor


Lead creative collaborations with Hole & Corner, Benchmark, Port Eliot Festival

LINLEY Summer School


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


Board of Trustees - The Devon Guild of Craftsmen.

All Makers Now conference reviewer - Falmouth University.

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 sustainably, how this can be taught; and the nurturing individuals so to develop original creative voices.

Award Leader BA(Hons) Designer Maker

Award Leader MA Contemporary Designer Maker 

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


The Designer Maker course 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 course include...
James Otter -
Yvette Cox -
Laura Lane -
Barnaby Barford -
Steve Brown -
James Tooze -
Nick Fraser -


Oct.-Nov. 2018

Guest Professor in Industrial Design at Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China

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

Staff serving as external examiners

External Examiner:
- 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 

EQ Arts Expert Reviewer - Enhancing Quality in the Arts

Research interests

As a strong supporter of collaboration and sharing of ideas and knowledge Polly’s research and teaching is closely connected.
Her 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.

Other research

Creative practice & artistic projects

Current & Recent Exhibitions / Creative / Research Outputs: 


- Co-coordinator ‘Journeys and Transmission’ Summer Symposium, Land/Water and the Visual Arts Research Group, Plymouth.         
- Buckland Abbey,Yelverton ‘things-meaning’/Practice research project. 
- 'Trajectories - Future Pathways in Design'. Exhibition Dutch Design Week, Netherlands.
- Can things be good tour guides2? Making Futures 4, PCA Academic paper. 
- 'New Economies New Ecologies', Exhibition Salone Internazionale Del Mobile, Milan, Italy. 
- Can things be good tour guides? IRFGT ESHTE Portugal, Academic paper. 
- ‘Envelope’ Exhibition Peninsular Arts Gallery, Plymouth. 
- Things-Meanings Castle Drogo – Research project with National Trust. 
- ‘Cabinet: Connection and Collection’ Exhibition Peninsular Arts Gallery Plymouth.
- ‘Cupola’ Film Presentation, Pairing conference Manchester Met. Uni.
- Presenting 'THE BACKS', Exhibition at The Devon & Exeter Institution.
- Land/Water Exhibition, Northampton University.
- ‘Observation, Mapping, Dialogue’ Poster/Paper, Drawing Research Network Annual Conference University of Brighton.
- ‘Ambulation’ Art council Exhibition, Plymouth Arts Centre.
- ‘Renewal & Regeneration’ Exhibition, Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton.
- ‘Mobile Machinoeki’ Commissioned Art works, Arts Council funded
- ‘A Light Walk’ Film, Sound and Film-Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival, Plymouth.
- Roots of Learning, Schumacher College.
- ‘A Light Walk’ Film Spacex Contemporary Art Gallery, Exeter.


Research groups

  • Design Knowledge

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 includingMSc Paediatric Dietetics & MA CAP, TQA Faculty of Arts & Learning, Teaching & Research Forum 

Additional information


Accredited Coach – Performance Coach Training/The Cultural Leadership Programme, Coaching Skills for Leadership Foundation Course
Polly coaches people from all spheres and at all stages in their lives, working to help them to find clarity on a single area or to shape future developments. The work is about helping individuals to find their own solutions and could be a one off session or a series of sessions depending on the depth and clarity needed. 
Clients include artists, designers, educators, charity and local authority workers to name a few. Coaching areas include goal setting, clarifying areas, working though an stumbling point, finding time/putting a plan together for you/your creative practice/family, working on limited beliefs, head clearing,
preparing for a particular event and learning how to have none confrontational conversations.


Polly Macpherson