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Dr Steve Brown


  • Steve Brown
  • Area

    School of Arts & Humanities


    Acting Head of Programme

  • Dr Steve Brown is Acting Head of Programme in Ceramics & Glass at the Royal College of Art. Alongside exhibiting his studio work internationally for many years, he has taught regularly as a visiting lecturer and senior tutor on the programme since 2003. Steve has more recently gained further recognition through a number of successful research projects undertaken at the College.

    As the RCA’s first Ceramics & Glass Research Fellow, Steve lead a major restoration project at the Victoria & Albert Museum working with an eighteenth-century Meissen fountain. This was followed by two AHRC-funded projects working with the UK ceramics industry to explore the potential of the digitally printed ceramic surface.

    As an educator he aims to feed this deep understanding of ceramics and glass materials and processes, gained through his research, back into the teaching programme at the RCA.

  • Biography

  • With a 14-year background as a commercial textile printer, Brown returned to education in 1998 to study a BA as Designer Maker at Plymouth University, after which he went on to complete his MA and, a few years later, his PhD, both at the RCA.

    As an artist, researcher and educator his work crosses the boundary between printmaking and the applied arts to focus on the dialogue between image, materials and form. His PhD was titled ‘The Physicality of Print’, and focussed on using printmaking methods to integrate imaging and forming processes to produce hybrid print forms.

    Brown has exhibited artworks that combine printmaking with both ceramic and glass, in exhibitions and galleries in the UK and internationally. His commercial output has seen him working with the UK ceramic industry, looking in new directions to explore a unique visual language for the digitally printed ceramic surface.

    Brown has also worked in the museum sector, in collaboration with the V&A, to develop innovative methods for restoring historical ceramic works through combining 3D scanning and printing techniques with traditional eighteenth-century production techniques. 

    Associated with the Ceramics & Glass programme since 2001, Brown has aimed to promote, support and build relationships between printmaking, materials and form in the widest sense.

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  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Selected Recent Exhibitions

    (2018)Top Drawer, Olympia, London

    (2017) British Ceramics Biennial, Spode Factory, Stoke-on- Trent

    (2015) British Ceramics Biennial, Stoke-on- Trent

    (2015) The Triumph of Amphitrite, New Europe 1600-1800 Galleries, V&A Museum

    (2013) Cabinets of Nature and Curiosity, Museum of Palaeontology, Munich

    (2013) Juggling – Jeux de Pichets, 19 Paul Fort Gallery, Paris

    (2012) Kith &Kin II, National Glass Centre, Sunderland

    (2011) British Ceramics Biennial, The Old Spode Factory, Stoke-on- Trent

    (2011) Crossovers, Bullseye Glass Gallery, Portland, Oregon, USA, 2011

    Book Chapters

    (2013) ‘The materiality of print: issues of artifice and integrity relating to the printed ceramic surface’, in: Glenn Adamson and Victoria Kelley eds., Surface Tensions. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

    Published Conference Papers

    (2017) 'The Meissen Fountain Project: Restoration in the Age of Digital Reproduction' - ISCAEE (The International Society for Ceramic Art Education and Exchange - UCA, Farnham)

    (2015) ‘Extending the Potential for the Digitally Printed Ceramic Surface’. In: IMPACT 9 International Printmaking Conference (Hangzhou: China Academy of Art Press, 301–7)

    (2014) ‘The Meissen Fountain Project: Restoration in the Age of Digital Reproduction’. In: Making Futures Vol 3, ISSN 2042–1664 (Plymouth College of Art)

    (2013) ‘Material Matrixes II: Building on a history of improvisational developments in print technology. In: Impact 8 – Interdisciplinary Printmaking Conference (Dundee, Scotland, 2013)

    (2011) ‘The Role of Interpretative Mediation in Applied Art Screenprinting’. In: IMPACT 6 Multidisciplinary Printmaking Conference Proceedings, UWE Bristol, 2009. 

    Presented Conference Papers

    (2018) Emmanuel Cooper Memorial Lecture: The Meissen Fountain Restoration Project, Crafts Study Centre, UCA, Farnham, UK

    (2016) ‘Digitally Decorating Bone China: Ad-hoc to Production’. Ceramics and New Technologies Symposium, Holburne Museum, Bath, UK

    (2012) ‘Material Matrixes I: Casting Print’. Kith & Kin II Symposium. National Glass Centre, Sunderland, UK

    (2011) ‘Lo-tech Accessible Approaches for 3D Printing in Glass’. Crossovers at BeCon Glass Conference, Portland Oregon, USA

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  • Awards and Grants

  • (2017–18) AHRC Follow on Funding awarded for ‘ILPEC’ research project (Improving Laser Printing Enamels for Ceramics)

    (2015–17) AHRC funding for ‘Extending the Potential for the Digitally Printed Ceramic Surface’ research project

    (2006–9) AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award

  • Research students

  • Hannah Tounsend

Selected work


Research interests

The focus of Steve Brown’s doctoral project and ongoing research has been the exploration of print’s unique relationship with applied arts material and form. He continues to build his understanding of what a print can be through an exploration of vitreous/reactive printmaking, and he is passionate about creating integrated relationships between imagery and forms at the ‘handling/making’ stage.

Current and recent research

Extending the Potential for the Digitally Printed Ceramic Surface
Dr Steve Brown and fellow researcher Professor Martin Smith are currently working on the research project ‘Extending the Potential for the Digitally Printed Ceramic Surface’. They aim to add weight to the recent momentum of developments from the patent holder in Germany, by providing the rigour of a two-year AHRC funded project dedicated to trial moving the technology from the bureaux-based model into larger scales of industrial production. Collaborating with industrial partners Digital Ceramic Systems, and the ceramic manufacturers Royal Crown Derby, they hope to be a catalyst for this technology being adopted by the wider UK ceramic industry.

The Exploration of Depth in Printed Ceramic Transfers
This is a speculative commercial project for the designers Queensbury Hunt who are funding the development of in-glaze transfers with qualities of depth. Steve Brown is leading the technical developments and advising on potential print production.

Lo-tech Accessible Approaches for 3D Printing in Glass in the Studio
This is a project that Steve Brown has been developing within his own studio research and with some support from the Bullseye Glass Co. His outcomes for this ongoing project have been well received through a number of exhibitions and he has recently disseminated the findings through a conference and series of successful workshops.