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Alma Boyes


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Personal profile

Research interests

Alma’s main research interest is in pedagogy. Her main research theme explores how teaching and learning takes place through live demonstration, observation, participation and through museum handling sessions. Her research also explored how this informs the creative process.


From 2006 Alma was a Fellow of the Centre of Excellence in Teaching & Learning through Design at the University of Brighton, undertaking research withCynthia Cousens into practice-based teaching. This emerged from Alma’s practical experience as a maker, teacher and demonstrator on the 3D Design and Craft course at Brighton, which values creativity realised through craft processes, skills and material qualities. Creativity through making is core to her discipline. Understanding how this is taught is fundamental.


Alma jointly led 4 funded pedagogic research projects through the Centre for Teaching and Learning in Design (CETLD) and the Art Design Media (ADM) Teaching Fellowship Scheme.


The overarching aim of ‘Exploring the relationship between Teaching and Learning Through Practice’ was to investigate teaching and learning through practice, to develop innovative modes of delivery and enhance existing teaching practice. The research also explored comparative use of demonstrations in other practice-based disciplines. The findings were relevant to teaching and learning in all subjects that use demonstration as a teaching strategy and will be the subject of future researc


A further project, ‘Learning tool support for live demonstration’ funded by CETL Learn Higher, identified, produced and evaluated key areas where short video clips suitable for mobile phones, ipods and MP3 players would support live demonstration of technical skills.


In 2009 the CETLD funded research project ‘Observational learning through Professional Studio Practice’ built upon this research. The original research project had raised questions about the limitations of demonstration when out of context of a range of processes, and had highlighted the difficulty of reflecting the true time span of processes and the rhythm of making. This 2009 project researched the value of learning practical skills through the direct observation of an expert, in a professional workshop, carrying out the entire process of producing an artifact. 


In 2010 the ADM Teaching fellowship Scheme funded project 'In the Hand' researched the effects of museum handling sessions on student learning, involving students in specialist handling sessions with curators at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


Findings from the research have been disseminated at conferences nationally and internationally since 2007. 

Scholarly biography

Alma Boyes is Academic Program Leader for BA(Hons) / MDes / MA 3D Design and Craft. She has taught ceramics at Brighton since 1982. Her work as an educator is informed by her practice as a sculptor and her pedagogic research into teaching and learning through practice.


Alma's sculpture focuses on figurative studies and work that explores the expression and evocation of social (and cultural) relationships, predominantly as expressed between animal species. Behavioral, anatomical and contextual research as well as portraiture and anthropological studies inform her public and privately commissioned work at differing scales.


Awarded a British Council scholarship in 1980, Alma travelled to Mexico to study pre- Columbian art. These early studies remain a key influence in her work with specific reference to form, colour, surface and the depiction of narrative. For ten years Alma also worked in collaboration with the wildlife sculptor William Tymym producing life-size bronzes of animals for zoos in the UK and USA and in 1992 she was a finalist for the Worldwide Fund for Nature’s Sculpture for the Environment Competition, exhibiting works about endangered species.


From 1979-97 Alma also worked for the Morris Singer Foundry as an enlarger for monumental sculptural works, notably for sculptors Paolozzi and Turnbull. This involved a particular conceptual and practice-based expertise built up over 25 years.


Her figurative experience and interest in the depiction of narrative also led to the commission of a life size bronze sculpture of a Cordwainer at work in 2002 from the Ward of Cordwainers, in conjunction with the Corporation of London. This is now sited in Watling Street in the City of London.


Alma was appointed Area Leader in Ceramics in 1995, became Course Leader for 3D Materials Practice in 2006 and Academic Programme Leader from January 2007 to August 2009 and from October 2011 to today.

Approach to teaching

I am primarily a maker and as such have a strong belief in the value of hands on learning, learning through doing and learning through experimentation. I believe students need to immerse themselves with the material to begin to understand how they may work with it.


The hands on experience runs alongside concept development, as without concept the work has no direction. In second year the work is increasingly driven by concept alongside the material, process-skilling and experimentation. I encourage students to bring together visual as well as ideas research and to relate the two as closely as possible.


Our students come from varying walks of life, backgrounds and ages, and all of these experiences help bring a different point of view or angle on a project or theme. Group and peer learning supports inclusivity and encourages articulation, understanding and communication. Students learn together and from each other.


I strongly believe the student experience should be ‘realistic’ and in second year actively promote students' involvement in live projects. I have a particular interest in how artists and makers develop work inspired by museum collections. I work with The Royal Pavilion and Museum in Brighton and the Ditchling Museum of Arts and Crafts on collaborative student projects. Working with real live people, places and issues has proved very rewarding for all involved: staff, students and the clients we work with.


In 2012-13 I was lead ambassador for the South East with the Crafts Council on the ‘Firing Up’ project, a national programme aimed at increasing the profile of ceramics within secondary education. This collaboration facilitated valuable teaching and work experience for our student volunteers, and the opportunity to work with established makers working within secondary schools.


In 2010 I worked with MDes students on a community based project to produce a tile panel for the Southwater Area in St Leonards on Sea. The joint project with the Southwater Area Residents Association (SARA) was awarded £10,000 from the Lottery’s “Awards for All” funding scheme. The ceramic tile panel reflects the history of Southwater and the lives of local residents past and present.


I continually learn and develop my teaching and the course curriculum in light of student feedback. I believe in staff and students working in partnership co-designing the curriculum.

Education/Academic qualification

Master, North Staffordshire Polytechnic (now Staffordshire University)

15 Sep 198230 Jun 1984

Bachelor, Bath Academy of Art

15 Sep 199530 Jun 1998

External positions

External Examiner, University of the Arts London

1 Jan 201530 Jun 2017

External Examiner, Staffordshire University

1 Aug 201331 Jul 2017

External Examiner, University of the Arts London

1 Jan 20131 Jan 2017

External Examiner, UCA

1 Sep 200731 Aug 2011


  • NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
  • Ceramics
  • Craft
  • N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
  • Sculpture

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Alma Boyes is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

learning Social Sciences
Teaching Social Sciences
student Social Sciences
museum Social Sciences
art Social Sciences
research project Social Sciences
video Social Sciences
Values Social Sciences

Research Output 2007 2015

The value, relevance and sustainability of ‘craft skilling’ in Higher Education today

Boyes, A., 1 Jan 2015, In : Making Futures Journal. 4, p. 1-12 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

'In the Hand’ –the effect of museum handling sessions on student learning

Boyes, A. & Cousens, C., 13 Jul 2012, Art, design, media creative learning and teaching. Brighton UK: University of Brighton, Vol. 18. p. 0-0 1 p. (Networks).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBN


Observational Learning through Professional Studio Practice

Boyes, A. & Cousens, C., Apr 2010, 5th International Conference Challenging the curriculum: exploring the discipline boundaries in art, design and media.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBN

non-verbal communication
research project

Learning Tool - Video Support for Live Demonstration

Boyes, A., Cousens, C. & Stuart, H., 2009, Dialogues in Art & Design:Promoting and Sharing Excellence. Clews, D. (ed.). UK: ADM-HEA/GLAD, p. 260-265 6 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter

video clip

Sustaining craft practice by teaching and learning through live demonstration

Boyes, A. & Cousens, C., 1 Nov 2009, Making Futures: the crafts in the context of emerging global sustainability agendas. Plymouth, UK: Plymouth College of Art, Vol. 1. p. 288-303 16 p. (Making Futures).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBN

non-verbal communication
research focus

Activities 2007 2015

  • 4 Taught course
  • 1 Oral presentation

PG Cert Fashion Footwear

Alma Boyes (Examiner)
1 Jan 201530 Jun 2017

Activity: External examination and supervisionTaught course

BA(Hons) 3D Design: Crafts, Ceramics, Jewellery & Silversmithing

Alma Boyes (Examiner)
1 Aug 201331 Jul 2017

Activity: External examination and supervisionTaught course

MA Fashion Artefact and MA Fashion Footwear

Alma Boyes (Examiner)
1 Jan 20131 Jan 2017

Activity: External examination and supervisionTaught course

In the Hand–the effect of museum handling sessions on student learning

Alma Boyes (Presenter), Cynthia Cousens (Presenter)
30 Sep 2010

Activity: External talk or presentationOral presentation

BA (Hons) 3DDesign Metals, Glass & Ceramics

Alma Boyes (Examiner)
1 Sep 200731 Aug 2011

Activity: External examination and supervisionTaught course