Professor Simon Olding

Professor Simon Olding

Director of the Crafts Study Centre, Professor of Contemporary Crafts

  • Academic
  • Research
Professor Simon Olding

Professor Simon Olding is Director of the Crafts Study Centre at UCA Farnham. Simon has held many senior roles in museums, galleries and art organisations since starting his career at Glasgow Museums and Art Gallery in 1979.

Professor Simon Olding


Simon joined the University for the Creative Arts in the year 2002 as Director of the Crafts Study Centre, the university museum of modern craft. He joined the professoriate in 2004 as Professor of Modern Crafts. He is a supervisor for PhD students in the craft field and its related aspects.

His previous career includes working as a specialist ceramics curator, as a museum director (Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth) as well as periods in agency and advisory work (London Museums Officer and Assistant Director, Area Museums Service for South Eastern England) and as Director of Policy and Research for the Heritage Lottery Fund. After graduating from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, he received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 1980 for a study on ‘The English short story in the 1890s’.

Research statement

Simon’s research interests focus on the field of modern and contemporary craft practice. He has a special interest in 20th century and contemporary studio ceramics, as well as the history of craft organisations and of craft practice and guilds located in south west England. He has made a special study of the etchings of Bernard Leach and of Leach’s personal collection of ceramics, and is presently writing a book on the history of the New Craftsman Gallery, St Ives.

Research supervision

Simon has supervised six PhDs to successful completion (2021), including a study on heritage architecture in Spain, two practice-led ceramic studies and three in contemporary textiles, where he acts as second supervisor to Professor Lesley Millar, Director of the International Textile Research Centre at UCA.

Current supervision (* lead supervisor) for UCA (March 2021):

  • Sangetta Banerjee
  • Francine Blythe*
  • Linda Brassington
  • Mona Craven
  • Jing Guo
  • Loucia Manopoulou*
  • Gina Pierce
  • Liz Scopes*
  • Martha Todd*

Professional Membership, Affiliation and Consultancy

  • Fellow of the Museums Association, Royal Society of Arts and the Tourism Society
  • Member of the editorial boards of The Journal of Modern Craft and Craft Research
  • Peer reviews for Bloomsbury, Berg Publishers, Design Journal, Craft Research, Journal of Modern Craft
  • Artistic assessor for Arts Council England
  • Acting Chair, The Leach Pottery
  • President, Walford Mill Crafts
  • Patron, SIT Select
  • External member, Advisory Committee, Aberystwyth University, School of Art Museum
  • Honorary Fellow of the Arts University Bournemouth.
  • External examiner for the City University, London, Department of Arts Policy and Management, and the Art Gallery and Museums Diploma of Manchester University.
  • Simon has examined PhD research degrees at the University of Ulster and Manchester Metropolitan University (University of Wolverhampton, Falmouth University in pipeline)
  • HEFCE University Museums Grants
    2006-2009 £250,000
    2010-2016 £350,000
  • Arts Council England
    Craft Commissioning programme 2004 £45,000
    Setting the Scene 2013 £50,000
    Urban Field 2007 £60,000
  • Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
    Marketing for CSC 2004-6 £90,000
  • Heritage Lottery Fund
    Collecting Cultures 2010-2012 £185,000
  • Paul Mellon Foundation
    Research project for Edinburgh Weavers £25,000
  • Various grants from Idlewild Trust, Farnham South Street Trust, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, Ernest Cook Trust, Patricia Baines Trust.


  • Simon curates craft exhibitions for the Crafts Study Centre and externally:
  • Consultant curator for the retrospective exhibition John Hinchcliffe (Salisbury Museum, 2015).
  • Co curator (with Dr Glenn Adamson and Martina Droth) for the exhibition Things of Beauty Growing: British Studio Pottery (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven CT, 2017; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 2018).