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 - Associate Professor in Design - Award Leader

Polly is an Associate Head of School for Enterprise and Creative Industries within the school of ADA (Art, Design & Architecture). Within the school she is leading development in following three areas: 
Academic Excellence, including Co-curriculum & extra activities 
Sustainable Growth,including external enterprise 
ReputationBuilding, including collaboration and promotionAs a strong advocate for knowledge transfer she works as a conduit between academia and the creative industries. This is achieved via the development of live briefs, strengthening employability and enhancing opportunities for collaborations with external organisations.

Polly is an Associate Professor in Design & Award Leader for BA(Hons) Designer Maker.
She leads a group of internationally acclaimed practitioners who teach the thinking, inventing, designing, creating, manufacturing, constructing, building, producing and making of objects and artefacts.


With an extensive career working in Design 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.


MA Ceramics - University of Wales
BA (Hons) 3D Design - University of Wolverhampton
Deans Honours List for Excellence - 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.
The Watt Memorial Trust Award for Travel & Academic studies

Professional membership

SFHEA - Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy
FRSA - Fellow Royal Society of the Arts

NACHE - National Association of Ceramics in Higher Education
CHEAD - Council Higher Education in Art & Design

Roles on external bodies

ExternalExpert / Engagement 2010 - Present: 

-The Movement Issue no.9 Hole & Corner magazine contributed to The Makers’Manifesto. Expert Panel.
- Port EliotFestival –Creative collaboration Hole & Corner, Benchmark +
- LINLEY Summer School - Negotiated & selected a Designer Maker student for a scholarship to take part in this inaugural opportunity (1 of 8nationally).
- London Crafts Week ‘Piano Craft’ staff collaboration with Hole &Corner Magazine & Steinway & co.
- London Crafts Week – ‘Marvellous Mechanica’ student/staff collaboration with Hole & Corner Magazine.

- Port Eliot Festival –Creative collaboration Hole & Corner, Benchmark +

- 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.
- Invited selectorfor 2013‘Get Fresh’ Exhibition, Emerging Designer- Makers from the SouthWest. Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Arts Council.

- Invited attendee of Craft+ STEM in the 21st century’, CraftsCouncil, Associate Parliamentary Design & Innovation Group, House ofCommons
- Contributor to Design Commission, Restarting Britain, Design Ed.& Growth.
- Invited attendee of The Internet of Things Ideas Lab, Presented bythe Crafts Council and Watershed
- Judge, Contemporary Craft Fair

- Invited Selector for 2011 Contemporary Craft Fair.
- Clore Leadership Programme: Board development day.
-Consultant – CraftsCouncils Higher Value: Redefining Best Practice in Crafts Graduate Support 
- External Expert/Assessor Quinquennial Review: Hereford College ofArt, Uni. Of Wales B.A.(Hons)Blacksmithing & BA (Hons) Cont.Applied Arts.


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.

The Designer Maker course has a national reputation for producing graduates who are individual, informed and understand how to be successful in business. It offers the opportunity for individuals to be the authors of their own artefacts whether for the one-off or multiple batch production.

The Designer Maker training and practice is taught through a number of methods including:

•  through the development of skills directly related to material processing,

•  extending individual knowledge and understanding of materials by analysis, manipulation and experimentation,

•  using an individual interpretation of material qualities as a basis for resolving design ideas.

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

Graduates of theDesigner Maker award include...
James Otter -
Yvette Cox -
Henry Williams -
Laura Lane -
Barnaby Barford -
Steve Brown -
James Tooze -
Nick Fraser -

Staff serving as external examiners

2014+     External Examiner, Cardiff Metropolitan University: BA (Hon) Artist Designer Maker

2012-17   External Examiner, University of Ulster: MFA Multidisciplinary Design

2012-16    ExternalExaminer, Liverpool Hope University: Design BDes (Hons) 

2013       External Examiner, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts - Singapore: BA (hons) Fine Art, Graphic Design and 3D Design New Practice Validated by Loughborough University.

2011-13  External Examiner, Loughborough University: BA (hons)3D Design New Practice
2009       External Expert/Assessor Quinquennial Review: Hereford College of Art, University of Wales B.A.(Hons)Blacksmithing & BA (Hons) Contemporary Applied Arts 


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

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/Waterandthe Visual Arts Research Group, Plymouth.         
- BucklandAbbey,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 InternazionaleDel Mobile, Milan, Italy. 
- Can things be good tour guides? IRFGT ESHTE Portugal, Academic paper. 
- ‘Envelope’ Exhibition Peninsular Arts Gallery, Plymouth. 

-Things-MeaningsCastle Drogo – Research project with National Trust. 

- ‘Cabinet:Connection and Collection’ Peninsular Arts Gallery Plymouth.
- ‘Cupola’ FilmPresentation, Pairing conference Manchester Met. Uni.

- Presenting 'THE BACKS', Exhibition at The Devon & Exeter Institution.
- Land/Water Exhibition, Northampton University.
-“Observation, Mapping, Dialogue” Poster/Paper, DrawingResearch NetworkAnnual Conference University of Brighton.
-‘Ambulation’Selected Exhibition, Plymouth Arts Centre.
-‘Renewal &Regeneration’ Exhibition, Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton.

-MobileMachinoeki’ Commissioned Art works, Arts Council funded
- ‘A Light Walk’Film, Sound and Film-Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival, Plymouth
- Roots ofLearning,Schumacher College
- ‘A LightWalk’Film Spacex Contemporary Art Gallery, Exeter

Additional CreativeWorks Information:


Research groups

  • Design Knowledge

Other academic activities

Plymouth University Complaint& Appeals Board

Chair Peninsular Arts Gallery Programming andAdvisory Group
Peninsula Arts operates from within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities andserves as the Arts and Culture programming organisation for the University ofPlymouth. The year-round public programme includes exhibitions, music, film,talks and performing arts. Its aim is to provide a prestigious and wide-rangingseries of events that opens up the arts and university to the people ofPlymouth, the South West and visitors to the region.

Plymouth Award Management Group

This scheme recognises the extra-curricular achievements of students graduatingfrom the University of Plymouth. 

3D Design Visiting Lecturing Programmer

The programme bringing to Plymouth national & international speakersincluding sculptor Peter Randall-Page, Jolyn Brewis (Partner of Sir Nicolas GrimshawAss.), Alastair Fuad-Luke (sustainable design facilitator), Karoline Newman(Articulate Communication), Andrea Stemmer(Designer to HEALS), and Janet Stoyle MBE (Textile Artist). 
-Peter Randall-Page“…It was an innovative idea to invite us both to talktogether, the event was extremely well organised with a full house ofinterested students who asked intelligent and pertinent questions. A totalsuccess from my point of view.”, 
-Jolyn Brewis (Eden Project, Managing Partner of Sir Nicolas Grimshaw As’tes.) 
“I have given talks in many academic and public institutions both in the UK andabroad; my visit to Plymouth was amongst the most enjoyable, and the mostinformative for me. I am grateful to Polly for making it so."



  • Chair of Peninsular Arts Galleries Programming Advisory Group
  • Complaint & Appeals Board
  • Academic Lead for 3D Workshops
  • Plymouth Award Management Group
  • 3D Design Visiting Lecturer Programmer
  • UPC/University Link Academic Advisor to theFDA Ceramics, Cornwall College and FDA Petroc College
  • UPC/University Link Academic Advisor to FDA/BA Silversmithing &Jewellery, Truro College.
  • Senior Management Team - School of Architecture & Design
  • Academic Promotions Board – Faculty of Arts (2007-2009)
  • University Staff Survey (Capita)Committee member 
  • MSc Paediatric Dietetics validation
  • MA CAP validation
  • Graduate Committee member
  • TQA Faculty of Arts & Learning, Teaching & Research Forum
  • Interview panels

UPC/University Link Academic Advisor
The University of Plymouth Colleges (UPC) network is a partnership between the University of Plymouth and local colleges that brings degrees to local doorsteps. Academics working at the University work as critical friends for validation and assessment.

Additional information


Accredited Coach - PerformanceCoach Training/The Cultural Leadership Programme, Coaching Skills forLeadership Foundation Course
I coach people from all spheres and at all stages in their lives, working tohelp them to find clarity on a single area or to shape future developments. Thework is about helping individuals to find their own solutions and could be aone off session or a series of sessions depending on the depth and clarityneeded. 
My clients include artists, designers, educators, charity and local authorityworkers to name a few. Coaching areas include goal setting, clarifying areas,working though an stumbling point, finding time/putting a plan together foryou/your creative practice/family, working on limited beliefs, head clearing,
preparing for a particular event and learning how to have none confrontationalconversations.


Polly Macpherson

3D Design – Plymouth University

Facebook - 3D Design withPlymouth University


MA Design - PlymouthUniversity