Senior Lecturer in Critical and Contextual Studies

  • Academic
  • Creative Education
Adrian Bland

Adrian Bland teaches contextual and theoretical studies within the Crafts programme (Ceramics & Glass; Jewellery & Silversmithing) at UCA Farnham. Having gained an MA in The History of Design from the Royal College of Art in 1997, he began teaching at UCA in 2000, and has since then taught across a range of programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Adrian Bland


Having gained an undergraduate degree in The History of Art from University of London, followed by a postgraduate degree in The History of Design from the Royal College of Art (thesis: ‘Egyptian Influences on Wedgwood Design 1769-1830’), Adrian began teaching at UCA Farnham in 2000. For many years this involved the co-ordination and delivery of a breadth of contextual and theoretical studies across a range of disciplines at undergraduate and postgraduate level, from Advertising and Architecture through to Fashion and Textiles. Although personal interest has long been focused on histories and theories of craft specifically, it is only more recently that his professional focus has been framed primarily by craft discourse and studio practice within the School of Fine Art, Crafts and Photography, delivering a range of contextual frameworks from postmodernism through to notions of skill and the values of multi-sensory experience. A key development in recent years has been on the focus given to ideas of ethical practice, highlighting notions of sustainability, concepts of ‘other’, and community engagement; making as a means of connecting.

Over the years, Adrian has served on a number of internal committees and management teams at UCA, including Academic Board (2004-2008) and the Crafts Study Centre Management Group (2005-2023). In relation to the latter, Adrian contributed an essay (‘From Sideboard to Showcase: Studio Craft in the Context of Display’) to the exhibition catalogue Twentieth Century Crafts (2005), and a curated text-led display, ‘Sympathetic Primitivism: Modern Craft and the Importance of ‘Other’ as a contribution to the 2015 exhibition and catalogue Academic Choice. He also acted as lead academic in association with the Crafts Study Centre on the ‘Augmented Reality in Education’ project organised by the University of Manchester in 2013. Other publications include the essay ‘A Time and a Place’, written for ceramicist Ashley Howard’s exhibition and Catalogue Meditations, exhibited at Guildford Cathedral in 2018.

Adrian has acted as link academic for BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework, Hampton Court Palace (2014-2023), and has served as External Examiner at a number of Universities including Edinburgh, Kingston, Portsmouth and Hertfordshire.

In his teaching, Adrian places some emphasis on display and exhibition, and this has perhaps been a key theme over the years, highlighting the role of context(s) in the communication of meaning; the very concept of context has remained central to both his thinking and his practice. Living in London, he is a keen museum and gallery visitor.

Current practice engages with a range of historical and contemporary theories and practices framed primarily by craft discourse, from approaches to making through to issues of display and communication. Responsibilities include the design, delivery and assessment of a range of contextual frameworks and assignments embedded within the programme, aligned with studio practice.

Research statement

Adrian’s research interests lie broadly within the framework of crafts and design; currently there is particular focus on display and presentation as a means of communicating the meanings and values inherent within craft as both concept and practice. Further recent research has addressed notions of ethical approaches to crafts and design, from issues of sustainability through to the expressions of inclusivity and community engagement fostered by the craftivist movement.

  • Crafts Study Centre Management Committee (2005-2023)
  • ‘Link academic’ for BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery, Royal School of Needlework (2014-2023)
  • ‘Design and Screen Cultures’ (Postgraduate), Edinburgh College of Art (2018-2021)
  • BA (Hons) Writing Fashion and Culture, Southampton Solent University (2013-2017)
  • BA (Hons) Ceramic Design, Central St Martins, University of the Arts (2009-2014)
  • ‘Historical and Critical Studies’, BA (Hons) Communication Design, University of Portsmouth (2006-2009)
  • ‘Critical and Contextual Studies Options’, University of Hertfordshire (2005-2009)
  • BA (Hons) Applied Arts/ Applied Arts with Marketing, University of Hertfordshire (2005-2008)
  • ‘Historical and Critical Studies’, Kingston University (2004-2008)
  • External Advisor for revalidation of MFA Art Writing, University of Goldsmiths (2008)