Paul Cummins MBE, (HonMA) Fine Art, 2010

Paul talks about his WW1 project and career since leaving Derby
Tell us about your journey since graduating?

After graduating in 2010 from the BA (Hons) Craft degree (now BA (Hons) Fine Art) I set up my own business, Paul Cummins Ceramics, based on Pride Park in Derby. I’m known for my distinctive landscape installations featuring flower glazes. 

888,246 ceramic poppies was chosen as the country's lead project to mark the centenary anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. The finished installation at the Tower of London was called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. It had been designed to look like a sea of red inspired by a line from the will of a Derbyshire serviceman who died in Flanders. The final poppy was installed on Armistice Day Tuesday 11 November 2014.

See how Pauls work has developed since graduation

Since leaving the University I’ve been commissioned to create other large-scale installations for London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, Chatsworth, Derby Royal Hospital, Blenheim Palace and other well-known institutions.

In January 2015, I was awarded a Honorary Masters of Arts at the Class of 2014 Graduation ceremonies, in recognition of my contribution to the arts.

Why did you choose to study this course at Derby?

Simple - it was the best in the country at the time. It was very practical and I could understand how I could gain real employment opportunities from it.

I was an architectural model maker and was looking to change my career. The course covered a wide range of areas from ceramics to jewellery-making and it confirmed what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It helped pushed me and became my catalyst for change.

And I really enjoyed it – it was well balanced and fun too!

How did you find the lecturers and the support they gave you?

As the lecturers were practitioners they were able to share their ‘real world’ experience of how to make a living from the course. In particular Jeremy James and Josie Walters were very hands on and made the classes easy to participate in.

How do you feel the University has helped you in your career?

I suffer from colour associated dyslexia so I called on the Student Support team to help with extra support when I needed it eg to manage workloads, written assignments.

What are your future plans?

I’m currently studying my PhD at Derby and developing my working relationship with the University.


Paul has since been awarded the 2014 Derby Civic Award, presented by the Mayor of Derby, Councillor Shiraz Khan.