Senior Lecturer in Ceramics

  • Academic
  • Research
Ashley Howard

Ashley Howard studied at Medway College of Art and Design. He built a career combining teaching with making. Howard sees his own research and teaching as one role, each contributing to the other. Howard later studied for his Masters at the Royal College of Art. He has exhibited, demonstrated and lectured all over the world, spending considerable time on solo and collaborative projects in Japan and China.


In 1993 Howard was one of the youngest makers elected as Fellow to the Crafts Potters Association (CPA). This formed a springboard for him to develop a reputation within the UK’s studio pottery fraternity. During the 1990s Howard exhibited nationally and took part in regular ceramics events across Europe. After winning the peer’s award at the Keramisto Milsbeek ceramics festival in 1996 he was awarded a solo show at Nijmegen Museum.

Howard served on the CPA’s Council before returning to full-time education at the Royal College of Art. In 2004/5 he collaborated with fellow RCA alumni Martin Lungley for their touring exhibition Full Circle. The exhibition showcased the possibilities of wheel-thrown ceramics. Its catalogue included contributions by Alison Britton and Emmanuel Cooper. 

Howard’s next project was the ambitious Ritual and Setting; an exhibition of work made for and inspired by Winchester cathedral. The exhibition drew upon Howard’s emerging interest in spiritual locations. It was Winchester’s first ceramics exhibition. It set a precedent for others to follow. Ritual and Setting, was the latest in a tradition of contemporary ceramics exhibited in ecclesiastical settings in the UK. Earlier examples were include Hans Coper in Coventry Cathedral (1960s) and Robin Welch at Lincoln Cathedral (1980s). The supporting catalogue includes articles by Professor Simon Olding, Dame Professor Magdalene Odundo OBE and Amanda Fielding. In a review, Gareth Mason said of Ritual and Setting; Through this exhibition, Ashley Howard has made a substantial statement, advancing the identity of ceramics as an art form.  In this regard it is an event of national significance.  

Between 2012 and 2014 Howard worked on a collaborative project with Japanese Potter, Risa Ohgi. The resulting exhibition, Shima Kara Shima E (From Island to Island) opened at the Leach Gallery in St Ives, Cornwall. It went on to the Foyer Gallery at University for the Creative Arts, Farnham. Shima Kara Shima E shone a light on the tea culture of the both Japan and the UK through a series of ceramic objects. The project brought together Arts Council England, Tokyo University for Fine Arts, UCA, the Crafts Study Centre and the Leach Pottery. Collaborative working to such a depth is a rare occurrence in Japan. Howard hosted an accompanying symposium at UCA Farnham, speakers included Professor Simon Olding, Dr Bonnie Kemske, Felicity Aylieff and Namiko Murakoshi. Dr Bonni kemske said of Shima Kara Shima E; Howard’s thrown work still exudes a masculine decisiveness. Ohgi’s decoration continues to mine pattern complexity and dense motif exploration. So it is good that they have chosen to show their individual pieces alongside the new, jointly produced work. It is like looking at a family of mother, father, and the child who carries the genetics of both. And just as the child grows and becomes independent, so this new work, which Howard has thrown and Ohgi has decorated, stands apart, within its own strength – as if created by a single artist. Collaboration at its best.

In 2014 Howard spent the summer working at Shigaraki, Japan developing a new range work that set out to explore interests in colour and the ceramic surface. This work was later exhibited in Guildford cathedral as the 2018 exhibition Meditations. The catalogue featured articles by UCA’s Adrian Bland, Rvd Julie Gittoes and James Rawlin. Meditations saw Howard move to address more contemplative, reflective and metaphorical issues surrounding the ceramic vessel. As part of a movement to exhibit ceramics away from the gallery setting, he set about challenging perceptions of venue and scale in a specific architectural setting. UCA’s Adrian Bland said of meditations; Installed here in Guildford Cathedral these pots, with their lustrous surfaces and bright flashes of colour, punctuate the interior space and invite the viewer on a journey of discovery, each stationed pot offering up a moment of reflection, or an opportunity for reverie. In a world of pressing demands and easy gains, the opportunities to both make and look slowly, to even get lost in the process, can come to seem ever more valuable to us.

2016 saw Howard’s exhibition Material Symphysis open at the James Hockey and Foyer Galleries, UCA Farnham. Howard worked with Debra Allman on this special collaboration between crafts courses at UCA Farnham and Tokyo University for the arts (TUA). An accompanying symposium included speakers; Professors Simon Olding and Lesley Millar, along with Risa Ohgi, Debra Allman, Catherine Slade-Brooking, Hiroshi Kaito and Satoshi Mizushiro.

In 2017 Howard was invited by JJ Rawlin Art Advisory, to exhibit alongside paintings and drawings, some yet unseen, by the late William Scott.  The exhibition, Exploring the Vessel, was hosted at a private address in London’s Holland Park. The same year saw Howard, in his role as UCA’s host of ISCAEE (International Symposium for Ceramic art Education and Exchange), deliver its 2017 symposium Farnham. Staff and students from Korea, Japan, China, Kenya, US and South Africa attended. Keynote speakers and demonstrators included Clare Twomey, Steve Brown, Martina Margetts, Margaret O’ Rourke and Dylan Bowen.

Since then, Howard has delivered papers at conferences in China, Korea and the UK. One such conference was the 6th international Tea Exchange event. Howard was the only westerner exhibiting at this conference held at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University. 

Over the years Howard has published several articles for Ceramic Review. His latest article, as part of the journal’s Potters on Pots series looked at a rare piece by Colin Pearson and the influence Pearson has had on Howard’s career. 

In Autumn 2023 Howard exhibited at London’s Cromwell Place galleries with JJ Rawlin. His ceramics sat alongside works by artists Tracey Emin, William Scott, Eduardo Paolozzi and Terry Frost. Ceramicists included here were Lucy Rie, Hans Coper and Ewan Henderson. In 2024 Howard showed work at the Crafts Council’s Collect at Somerset House and had a solo show titled Surface In Form at Tokyo’s Gallery St Ives.

2024 has seen Howard receive funding for a knowledge exchange project between UCA’s Ceramics and Glass department and local ceramics studio 318Ceramics. This project is designed to look at exchanges of skills and facilities between the two organisations both located in the UK’s World Crafts town of Farnham. 

Howard has published articles on technical and aesthetic subjects. His achievements on the national and international stages are recognised though his membership of the International Academy for Ceramics. Howard is represented by JJ Rawlin. Writer and critic, David Whiting has said of Howard; The work of Ashley Howard remains extraordinarily fresh. He is an assured but rigorous explorer and celebrant of the past, clearly indebted to a variety of ceramic traditions, but he has been able to absorb these ideas into a very modern, resourceful and uncommonly free language of his own.  

Howard is currently developing new work that examines the relationship between drawing and making. 

Research statement

Composer John Cage saw the world as process. Joe Panzner, in his book The Process that is the World says of Cage ‘- forces us to think of a world populated by events rather than objects. Cage’s ontology requires us to think of the actualised objects of our world as expressions of processes…’ This unlocks a gate for my current research, it supports my work with clay as an expression of a language and of the event of making. Guiding this approach my exploration into the relationship between my drawing and making. Looking at meeting points, boundaries, horizons both harmonious and discordant play their roles. I see primal as an overused adjective regarding clay, but the squeeze, the punch, the stretch, tease and coax all fire my imagination and correlate with my deep-rooted passion for the phenomena of clay, its plasticity, and the transmutation of process. Let’s see where it takes me!

  • International Academy of Ceramics (IAC)
  • Contemporary Applied Arts, London
  • Trustee, 318Ceramics
  • Art Workers Guild
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • Member, General Teaching Council
  • Fellow, Craft Potters Association 
  • University of Brighton, MA Crafts 2021 to 2023
  • Knowledge Exchange Fund, UCA
  • Research Fund: ISCAEE UK: UCA, Farnham
  • Research Fund: Material Symphysis exhibition catalogue, UCA, Crafts Study Centre
  • Research Fund: ISCAEE: China: UCA, Farnham
  • Research Fund: Shima Kara Shima E exhibition catalogue, UCA, Leach Gallery
  • Research Fund: Meditations, Shigaraki Residency, Japan/exhibition Guildford Cathedral
  • Arts Council: Meditations, Shigaraki Residency, Japan/exhibition Guildford Cathedral
  • Research Fund: ISCAEE Turkey: UCA, Farnham
  • Arts Council: part of team set up of
  • Research fund: ISCAEE Japan: UCA, Farnham
  • Arts Council grant: Ritual & Setting
  • Research fund: Ritual & Setting: UCA, Farnham
  • Arts Council grant: Full Circle
  • Research fund: Full Circle: UCA, Rochester
  • Shortlist, Twyfords Bathtime project, Royal College of Art
  • Peers Award, Art in Clay, Hatfield House
  • Peers Award, Milsbeek, Netherlands
Ashley Howard