Thursday 27 March 2014

PhD opportunity at Manchester School of Art in partnership with York Art Gallery & the British Ceramics Biennial

AHRC Funded Collaborative Doctoral Award
At the Edge: the designer-maker and industrial innovation
CLOSING DATE 30th April 2014

The Project

Working in partnership with Manchester School of Art, York Art Gallery and the British Ceramics Biennial, this project will investigate the phenomenon of the individual designer-maker and their potential to act as a catalyst for industrial ceramic innovation.

At the Edge aims to develop a practice-led case study based on primary research into the ceramic collections of York Art Gallery, focussing on the creative interface between artist, designer and manufacturer. This research will be applied to an industrial design residency undertaken by the PhD student in the Staffordshire Potteries, facilitated by A Fine Line as part of British Ceramics Biennial 2015.

The current revival of the UK-based ceramic industry represents an opportunity for British ceramic manufacturers to regain a position of importance and recognition within the global marketplace, but this will rely on innovative and forward-thinking design initiatives. This AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Award proposes a practice-led case study, addressing the question: ‘How can the cutting-edge design practices of the individual designer-maker inform and enhance the design aesthetics and design practices of the industrial ceramic manufacturer?’

Aims and Objectives

This CDA proposal will critically analyse the individual designer-maker and the small-scale design studio and their potential to act as a catalyst for industrial innovation in ceramic design. The research question will be explored primarily through design practice, within the context of YAG’s extensive ceramic collections. The research will be tested through an industrial design placement within the ceramic industry.
i) To develop and document a model of constructive dialogue between the artist/designer and the ceramic industry as a template/toolkit for further innovative design initiatives.
ii) To produce a body of practice–led research, in the form of design concepts and prototypes for industrial ceramic manufacture, which acknowledges historical precedents and explores innovative contemporary design solutions.
i) To compile a literature review as a background study of the historical manifestation of the artist as designer within the ceramics industry.
ii) To conduct primary research within the York Art Gallery collections, to identify, analyse and evaluate examples of this type of artist/industry collaboration. 
iii) To produce a body of ceramic designs, prototypes and products, informed by an industrial placement in the Staffordshire Potteries.
iv) To produce a written thesis, to act as case study and template for future artist/industry collaborations

Project Partners

York Art Gallery  Recent acquisitions of a number of important and extensive collections of British Studio Ceramics (the Milner-White collection in 1963, the W. A. Ismay collection in 2001, the Henry Rothschild collection in 2009 and the Anthony Shaw collection in 2012) have created an unparalleled resource for ceramic researchers in the north of England. These contemporary collections, combined with extensive historical ceramics collections and an ambitious gallery extension programme have established the Centre of Ceramic Art at York Art Gallery as a centre of excellence for British studio pottery.

A Fine Line  The independent cultural practice A Fine Line has designed and delivered the previous three British Ceramic Biennial exhibitions in Stoke–on-Trent, in 2009, 2011 and 2013, establishing industrial placements for artists in each of these. Barney Hare-Duke will liase with MIRIAD and the student, in support of the industrial placement in the Staffordshire ceramics industry in 2015. 

MIRIAD The student will be supervised by a team led by Professor Stephen Dixon at MIRIAD, with access to the ceramic studio facilities at Manchester School of Art. Professor Dixon is an established researcher in the field of Contemporary Ceramics, and has extensive experience of practice-led doctoral supervision. 

The Student

The project will allow the student the latitude to frame their own project, within the broad terms outlined above, to enable the student to take ownership and fully engage with the project.
Suitable candidates are likely to have a Masters qualification in an aspect of Art and Design, and will demonstrate an understanding of, and commitment to, contemporary design practice. Some previous experience working in the design sector, and/or experience of studio practice would be beneficial, but is not essential. Most importantly, the student needs to have a genuine desire to pursue PhD study, and to develop their skills as a researcher. 

How To Apply

  • Applications should follow the normal MIRIAD Research Degree procedures and you should pay attention to the guidelines for applicants contained in the application pack.
  • Please quote the studentship reference number SD2014/1.
  • Applications should be completed using the Postgraduate Research Degree Application Form
  • Application Form should be emailed to:
  • PLEASE NOTE that Section 9 of the application should be used to write a personal statement outlining your suitability for the study, what you hope to achieve from the PhD and your research experience to date.


30th April 2014.
Applications received after this date will not be considered.
Interviews of shortlisted candidates are expected to be scheduled for early May