John Grayson

Senior Lecturer

School of Digital, Technologies and Arts

John is an ‘artist educator’ with a background in crafts. He delivers the design pathway of Foundation Art and Design and is passionate about supporting early career creatives. He combines teaching with practice and research around historical craft. 

I am Senior Lecturer in Foundation Art and Design, leading the Design Pathway. My practice and my work in education—research and teaching— interface, one informs, underpins, and inspires the other.

I am a craft specialist with a passion for a wide range of creative practice in both art and design: this is exemplified through my making practices that explore printmaking and its application onto three-dimensional enamel surfaces to make satirical automata. I have taught and managed widely within HE, including at Plymouth College of Art, Hereford College of Art and Staffordshire University: and held external advisory roles including for York University, University of Wales Trinity St David.

My Craft practice is rooted in the metalworking heritage of South Staffordshire (the area known as the Black Country) and Birmingham and centres on one-offs for commission particularly working with museum/historic collections. 

Professional memberships and activities

  • Honorary Research Fellow, University of Birmingham
  • Centre for Printing History and Culture (CPHC)
  • History of the Printed Image Network (HoPIN)

Academic qualifications

  • PhD, ‘South Staffordshire Enamels: The Lost Craftsmanship of Eighteenth Century Copper Substrate’, Birmingham City University
  • Post Graduate Certificate in Research Methods, Birmingham City University.
  • MA in Wood, Metal and Plastics, University of Wolverhampton
  • Post Graduate Certificate in Art Education, University of Central England
  • BA(Hons) Wood, Metal and Plastics, Wolverhampton Polytechnic


  • Craft
  • Design
  • Craft curation
  • Metalwork
  • Enamel
  • Print

Research interests

  • Eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Midland metalworking trades
  • Early transfer printing in the Midland ceramic and enamel trades
  • Museum object-based research
  • Craft research


  • Printing for the Workplace, conference subvention from the Bibliographical Society (2018)
  • Enamel and Enamel Boxes and methods of manufacture around South Staffordshire in the 1700-1800s, STEAM Scholar Doctoral Research Training Grant, Birmingham City University (2016 – 2018)
  • Craftsense - Making Connections, AHRC small Grants. Sole Researcher investigating methods audience engagement methods with contemporary craft through local industrial heritage (2004)


Undergraduate - Foundation art and design

  • Two and three-dimensional design processes
  • Drawing
  • Design theory
  • History and context


Printed Publications

Grayson, J. (2020) Imperfect Printed Enamel Surfaces: Interpreting Marks of Eighteenth-Century Midland Craftsmanship in Midland History. Taylor and Francis, 45(2), pp. 190-207.

Grayson, J. (2018) South Staffordshire Enamel – HOW…Did They Make That? The Value Of Contemporary Craftsmanship In Revealing (Absent) 18th Century Metalworking Skills In Literary Sources, in Making Futures Journal, Vol. 5.

Grayson, J. (2016) Hacking the Enlightenment - Knowledge Exchange Through Collaborative Automata Making in Papadimitriou, I., Prescott, A. and Rogers, J. (ed.) Engineering the Future: Digital Design Weekend 2016. United Kingdom: Uniform Communications Ltd., pp. 102 - 105.

Grayson, J. (2013) Automata: Serious Craft Genre or Frivolous Amusement, Craft Research. Bristol: Intellect, 4(1), pp. 103-114.

Alvarez, A. Durbin, L. and Grayson, J. (2005) Celebrating the Conservation of the Bilston Enamels, Conservation News, (95), pp. 22-23

Exhibitions (Recent/Selected)

Sharing is Caring, Munich Jewellery Week, Germany (2020).

Enamel | Substrate, (solo) touring exhibition co-curated with Ruthin Craft Centre. Toured The Vittoria Street Gallery, Birmingham City University; Ruthin Craft Centre; Wolverhampton Art Gallery (2018 -19).

Made in the Middle, Craftspace touring exhibition, launched at The Herbert, Coventry, toured various venues across the East and West Midlands, UK (2016 – 17).

A Curious Turn, Crafts Council touring exhibition, launched at Habitat, London King Road, toured various UK venues (2016 – 17).

Digital Design Weekend, London Design, Festival Victoria and Albert Museum, UK (2016).

Georgian Enamels: Piecing Together A New Narrative (solo), Bantock House Museum, UK (2015)

Automata, Ruthin Craft Centre, UK (2014).

Unravelling The Vyne, The Vyne National Trust House, UK (2013).

Once Upon A Time In The Midlands, Bilston Craft Gallery, UK (2013).

Meer Seen, Craft 2eu, Germany (2012).

Tall Stories, Devon Guild of Craftsmen, UK (2010).

Les Mecaniques du Bonheur, Automates Galerie, Belgium (2009)

Playing with Fire, Devon Guild of Craftsmen/British Society of Enamellers touring exhibition, UK (2009).

Origin, presented by the Crafts Council, Somerset House, UK (2008).

Made in the Middle, Craftspace touring exhibition, UK (2008).

Craftbox, Bilston Gallery, UK (2007).

Jahresmesse für Kunsthandwerk, Museum für Kunst und Gewerb, Germany (2006).

Commissions (Recent/selected)

Burger, Chips and Wigornia to Go, a pop-up museum art project for the Museum of Royal Worcester (2021)

Kotura, Lord of the Winds, nested enamel story telling boxes commissioned by Mythstories Museum, University Centre Shrewsbury (2019)

The Discombobulated Brexiteer, digital enamel automata for the Crafts Council’s The Curious Turn exhibition and Crafts Council Collection (2016).

Georgian Enamels: Piecing Together a New Narrative, commissioned enamel automata and objects for Bantock House Museum. Funded by Arts Council England and Wolverhampton City Council (2015)

Gate Gate, enamel automaton for Unravelling The Vyne exhibition at The Vyne. Hampshire (2013).

in the UK for Quality Education

Sustainable Development Goal 4, Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2023

for Career Prospects

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Facilities

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021

of Research is “Internationally Excellent” or “World Leading”

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Four Star Rating

QS Star Ratings 2021