Professor Matthew Cornford is an artist, researcher and course leader for the BA(Hons) Fine Art Critical Practice course.
Matthew Cornford is currently working on a major photographic survey of former British art schools. Working in collaboration with Professor John Beck (University of Westminster) the project explores the place of art schools and art students in local, regional and national terms.
'We believe the closure of independent art schools eliminated a key public resource for many communities, and are interested in the ways the sites of art schools represent a material space for critical remembrance. Images of art school sites that are now car parks or luxury flats can, as the responses we have encountered during our talks indicate, prompt a consideration of pressing contemporary issues relating, not just to art education, but to urban planning, gentrification, social and cultural exclusion, and economic inequality.'
John Beck and Matthew Cornford 2016
Professor Matthew Cornford is an artist, researcher and course leader for the BA(Hons) Fine Art Critical Practice course. Matthew Cornford is currently working on a major photographic survey of former British art schools. Working in collaboration with Prof. John Beck (University of Westminster) the project explores the place of art schools and art students in local, regional and national terms.
Matthew Cornford’s current research into British art schools, has generated considerable interest and a number of outputs, including a paper at Tate Britain (2011), refereed journal article (2012), book The Art School and the Culture Shed (2014), radio show for Resonance 104.4 FM (2017) and forthcoming exhibition at the Bluecoat, Liverpool in 2018. In addition Cornford has published refereed articles on contemporary fine art education and the pioneering ‘Student Placement Scheme’ developed with his colleague Susan Diab on the BA (Hons) Critical Practice course at Brighton.
For 25 years Matthew Cornford worked in collaboration with David Cross, whom he meet at St Martins School of Art, London in 1987. Cornford & Cross are known for their ambitious site-specific projects and gallery interventions.
Their work has been shown in numerous exhibitions and galleries including – Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth; Brighton Photo Biennial; Camden Arts Centre, London; EAST International, Norwich; Exchange Gallery, Penzance; ICA, London; Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland; Photographers’ Gallery, London; South London Gallery, London; Wolverhampton Art Gallery, plus a number of group exhibitions in Europe and the USA. Cornford & Cross carried out an Arts Council residency at the London School of Economics and a British Council residency at Vitamin Creative Space in Guangzhou, China. In 2009 they completed the design, production and editing of a 192-page monograph Cornford & Cross, which features 33 of their art projects from 1995 until 2007; published by Black Dog, London. Cornford & Cross’s work is represented by Division of Labourxz.
Matthew Cornford’s concern with context and post-studio practice has led him to visit and photograph a number of major land art works in North America and Europe. These include Agnes Denes’s Tree Mountain, Finland; Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, Utah, USA and Broken Jetty/Spiral Hill, Emmen, Netherlands; Michael Heizer’s Double Negative, Nevada, USA; Walter de Maria’a Lightning Field, New Mexico; Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels, Utah, USA;
Robert Morris’s Observatory Flevoland, Netherlands and Constantin Brâncusi’s Endless Column, Târgu Jiu, Romania.
Matthew Cornford’s teaching experience encompasses the development and delivery of undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses and the management of Fine Art programmes. He has supervised 6 PhD students to completion, externally examined 2 PhDs and chaired 3 PhD viva’s. He has been an external examiner to undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the Byam Shaw School of Art (2009-11), Central St Martins College of Art & Design (2001-5), Leeds College of Art & Design (2006-9) and Goldsmiths College, University of London (2012-16). He served as a panel member for the BA (Hons) Fine Art course revalidation at Middlesex University (2010) and the Fine Art programme revalidation event at Kingston University (2011).
Matthew Cornford has experience in successfully bidding for external research funding Arts and Humanities Research Council and Arts Council England, managing academic researchers and externally funded research projects. His research outputs have been submitted in the 1996, 2001 and 2008 RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) and 2012 REF (Research Excellence Framework). He has given numerous talks and lectures about his work, in galleries and educational institutions across the country including Glasgow School of Art, Royal College of Art, Tate Britain, University College London, V&A Museum and Whitechapel Gallery. He was awarded a professorship from the University of Wolverhampton in September 2005, and joined the University of Brighton as Professor of Fine Art in April 2009.
Exploring the historical trauma of the English Civil War and its relation to cultural memory and contemporary politics
Exploring the effects of modern technology on visual culture and the human psyche
Cornford, Matthew (2016) How Do You Write a Risk Assessment for Lips of Thomas? Performance Research, 21 (6). pp. 107-112. ISSN 1352-8165
Cornford, Matthew (2016) Old School: The Case for Specialism in Art Education In: Blamey, D., ed. Specialism. Open Editions, London, pp. 21-35. ISBN 9780949004017
Cornford, Matthew and Diab, Susan (2014) The student placement scheme: teaching and learning post-studio practice Journal of Visual Art Practice, 13 (1). pp. 41-49. ISSN 1470-2029
Beck, John and Cornford, Matthew (2014) The Art School and the Culture Shed The Centre for Useless Splendour, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames. ISBN 9781908811097
Cornford, Matthew and Cross, David (2012) The white bear effect: the effects of modern technology on visual culture and the human psyche [Exhibition]
Beck, J. and Cornford, Matthew (2012) The art school in ruins Journal of Visual Culture, 11 (1). pp. 58-83. ISSN 1470-4129
Cornford, Matthew and Cross, D. (2010) It Happened Here [Exhibition]
Cornford, Matthew and Cross, David (2008) The once and future king [Exhibition]
Cornford, Matthew and Cross, David (2008) The Lion and the Unicorn [Exhibition]
John Beck and Matthew Cornford’s intelligent and measured book The Art School And The Culture Shed may be a slim volume but it packs a hell of a punch in locating the ravages wreaked on our cultural life over the past 20 years by privatisation, the failings of local councils and town planners and the depredations of property developers.
(Paul Gorman 2014)
Some of the most interesting extra-gallery public work in the late 1990s and the early 2000s recognized this; for instance, Thomas Hirschorn and Cornford & Cross explicitly defiled the public location of art as the democratic ‘home’ of art, producing a range of public installations that are emaciated, faded and entropic.
(John Roberts, Revolutionary Time and the Avant-Garde, Verso London and New York, 2015, p. 207)
"Thomas Hirschhorn and Cornford & Cross, who in an explicit defilement of the public location of art as the democratic ‘home’ of art, produce a range of public installations that are emaciated, faded and entropic. In fact these remnant objects of Hirschhorn and Cornford & Cross, deliberately embrace the ambiguous threshold of the non-artistic sign in order to produce a flattened, positivized spectator."
(John Roberts ‘Art, Politics and the Topological Turn’, guest lecturer, Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London, 3 October 2013)
"Cornford & Cross’ work pursues a strange, but necessary, paradox: they fight assiduously and tenaciously to create works that exist as ghostly things, deflationary gestures, faded after-effects, bathetic monuments, self-negligent objects, inert signs."
(John Roberts, ‘Fade Out’, Cornford & Cross, Black Dog Publishing, London, 2009, p.15)
"Cornford & Cross’ practice does not represent a vacillation between a progressive cultural politics and a retardataire investment in obsolete cultural forms, but embodies an acute sense of resistance to the ‘imposition of a false idea of unity and order on the representation of things."
(Rachel Withers, ‘Style and Character’, Cornford & Cross, Black Dog Publishing, London, 2009, p. 26)
Selected articles and reviews on Cornford & Cross since 2001
Conferences, panel presentations & lectures (selected)
Grants and awards towards the production of new work since 2001
2008:Awarded grant from Wolverhampton Art Gallery, for new site-specific installation
2008: Awarded grant from Meadow Gallery/Arts Council England, for new site-specific work, at Attingham Park, Shropshire
2004-2005:Originated, developed and wrote bid to Arts Council England for touring exhibition Co-authors David Cross and Alistair Robinson, NGCA.
2004:Originated, developed and wrote bid to British Council for artists residency in China; Co-author David Cross.
2000-2001:Developed and wrote bid to Arts Council England for film production budget; Co-author David Cross and Steven Bode, Film and Video Umbrella.
Juries, committees and editorial boards
2009-present: MA Fine Art, Byam Shaw School of Art, London.
2006-2009:BA(Hons) Art and Design Interdisciplinary, Leeds College of Art, Leeds.
2001-2005:BA (Hons) Graphic Design, Central St Martins College of Art and Design, London.