Scholarly biography and interests

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.

Featured works and projects

Turf from Ulster laid on the courtyard at the Commandery Museum, Worcester

It Happened Here

Exploring the historical trauma of the English Civil War and its relation to cultural memory and contemporary politics

Photo of visitors at the White Bear Effect installation

The White Bear Effect

Exploring the effects of modern technology on visual culture and the human psyche

Photo of the coal installed at Wolverhampton Gallery with visitors

The Lion and the Unicorn

A site-specific installation about the limits of art, ecology and consumer culture

Research activity 

Repository holdings 

Number of items: 9.

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]

This list was generated on Sun Jan 15 11:52:44 2017 GMT.



  • ‘The Art School and the Culture Shed’. This book grows out of a presentation given as part of the 2012 Stanley Picker Public Lectures on Art programme hosted by the School of Fine Art at Kingston University. The transcribed talk and images explore and contrast the demise of the local art school with the rise of the new contemporary gallery. Co-author John Beck. Small-press book, 48 pages. Published by The Centre for Useless Splendour, Kingston University, London. ISBN 978-1-908811-09-7


  • ‘Mobilizing Uncertainty’, chapter for book, co author David Cross. Published inOn Not Knowing; How Artists Think, edited by Elizabeth Fisher and Rebecca Fortnum. Paperback, 160 pages, published by Black Dog London. ISBN13: 978 1 908966 29 2. pp 32–41


  • Beck, J. and Cornford, Matthew The art school in ruinsJournal of Visual Culture, 11 (1). pp. 58-83. ISSN 1470-4129


  • 'A Dialogue on Art School,' chapter for book Curating and the Educational Turn, Edited by Paul O'Neill and Mick Wilson, Published by De Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam. pp. 262 - 270.


  • Cornford & Cross. This book brings together for the first time a range of the encounters, actions and debates that make up our work, and includes texts, reference material, and photographs documenting the 33 different projects and art works. With essays by John Roberts and Rachel Withers. Hardback book, 192 pages. Published by Black Dog, London. ISBN13: 978 1 906155 69 8.


  • ‘Takin’ it to the Streets’. The essay explores unofficial public realm projects, through the recent work of Mark McGowan, Can Altay and Sam Curtis and addresses the value of working independently and without official support. Series editor Sophie Hope
  • ‘Home Counties Surrealism: The forgotten art of Marcus Keef’. Article on the work of Marcus Keef, who produced some of the most evocative and influential British album cover art of the early 1970s. His best-known work was for Vertigo and Neon labels with a varied roster of folk and progressive acts, singer-songwriters and heavy metal bands. Co-Author John Beck, issue editor John L. Walters. Eye: The International Review of Graphic Design. No. 68, Vol. 17, Summer


  • ‘Unrealised Projects: projects 1997 – 2002’. Chapter for book New Practices/New Pedagogies. Edited by Dr Malcolm Miles Taylor & Francis (Routledge) Lisse, Netherlands. pp. 53-61.


  • ‘Inside Outside’. Written in the form of a dialogue between us, the article explores the methodology of transgressive site specificity that underpins our work. Third Text special issue on collaboration. Edited by John Roberts and Stephen Wright. Volume 18, issue 6, November, pp. 657-665.


  • ‘Unrealised Projects: projects 1997 – 2002’. Texts and images. Mined. Edited by Golsorkhi and Laeufer. Tank Publications Ltd. pp. 49-55.


  • ‘Where is the Work?’. Chapter for book Transmission: Speaking and Listening. Edited by Kivland and Sanderson. Published by Site Gallery and Sheffield Hallam University. pp. 48-56.


  • ‘Coming up for air’. Prospectus for public monument. Making History series of art commissions curated by Terry Shave. Staffordshire University.

Citations and reviews

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

  • Peter Seddon, 'It Happened Here: Turfing over Irish and English History', Journal of Visual Art Practice, volume 10, number 3, 2012, pp. 263-274
  • Michael Petry, The Art of Not Making: The New Artist / Artisan Relationship. Thames & Hudson, 2011, pp. 56, 186-187
  • Dave Beech, ‘Inside Out’. Art Monthly, No.329, September 2009, pp. 2–3
  • Dave Freak, ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’. What’s On, Birmingham, November 2008
  • Jane Rendell, ‘Refunctioning the Infrastructure’. Ingrid Ruudi editor, Gas Pipe Catalogue, 2008 Architecture Biennale, Venice, pp.18–21
  • Jane Rendell, ‘Space, Place and Site in Critical Spatial Practice’. Cameron Cartiere and Shelly Willis, editors, The Practice of Public Art Routledge, London, 2008
  • Sandra Rehme, ‘Obliterated Landscapes’. Time Out, 9-15 May 2007, p. 41
  • Jane Rendell, Art and Architecture: A Place Between. I.B.Tauris, London, 2006, pp. 44–45, 105–107
  • Malcolm Miles, ‘Interruptions: Testing the Rhetoric of Culturally Led Urban Development’. Urban Studies, vol. 42, nos 5/6, May 2005, p. 905
  • Malcolm Miles, Urban Avant-Gardes: Art, Architecture and Change. Routledge, London, 2004, pp. 166–69
  • Tom Lubbock, ‘Five Best Shows in London’. The Independent, 19 August 2004
  • Laura Chiari, ‘Artisti, attivisti!’. Next Exit, Rome, Italy, no. 19, June 2004
  • Rachel Withers, ‘Cornford & Cross’. Artforum, vol. XLI, no. 5 January 2003, pp. 149–150
  • Dave Beech, ‘Cornford & Cross’. Art Monthly, no. 262, December 2002, front cover and pp. 23–24
  • Mark Currah, ‘Cornford & Cross’. Time Out, 30 October – 6 November 2002, p. 57
  • Alicia Miller, ‘Trails of the unexpected’. Art Review, vol. LIII, October 2002, pp. 102–103
  • Robert Clark, ‘Childhood’s End’. The Guardian Guide, 19 October 2002, p. 35
  • Lisa Lefeuvre, ‘Heart of Glass’. Katalog, vol. 14 no. 1, 2002, pp. 48–49
  • Adrian Kear, ‘Parasites’. Parallax, vol. 7 no. 2, 2001, pp. 31–46
  • Henrik Schrat and Oliver Hartung, ‘The picture as index of lived experience’. 4.28, no. 1, 2001, pp. 9–12

Conferences, panel presentations & lectures (selected) 


  • Panel discussion On Not Knowing, Associate Artists’ Weekend, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge,19 October
  • Homogeneity or Diversity in Art Education?’ Teaching in Practice conference, The Higher Education Academy. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 28 June
  • ‘Art School Attitude’ polemic presented at What’s the Point of Art School? Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London, 25 April
  • Cornford & Cross, ‘The White Bear Effect’, symposium, Embodied Cognition and Mental Simulation, The Annual Conference of the Cognition Institute, Plymouth University, 22 March


  • Art Schools: Inventions, Invective and Radical Possibilities. Organised by UCL Art Collections, the Royal Collection and the University of Brighton in conjunction with Naomi Salaman, Excavating the British Art School, Co author Dr John Beck, Newcastle University, University College London, 12 June 
  • Utopics in Art and Architecture. Organised by Dr Robin Wilson and Dr Dan Smith, Excavating the British Art School, Co author Dr John Beck, Newcastle University, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, 5 June
  • Being There: Making Art in Context, Inaugural Lecture, Sallis Benney Theatre, University of Brighton, Brighton, 22 April


  • Art of Location Symposium, organised by Meadow Arts
  • ‘Social Places’ presentation on projects by Cornford & Cross, The Courtyard Arts Centre, Hereford, 6 November
  • Living Landscapes — AHRC Landscape & Enviroment. Conference Directors Professor Mike Pearson and Dr Heike Roms. ‘Past, Present and Future’ recent projects by Cornford & Cross. Aberystwyth University, Wales 19 June


  • 'Spatial Politics: The Physical Dimensions of Curating'. Organized by Ben Cranfield. Presentation on ‘The Abolition of Work’. Institute of Contemporary Art, London 29 April
  • Initiative and Institution. Organised by Céline Condorelli and Andreas Lang. ‘Question Education’, presentation on education, studio space and art schools. Department of Architecture and Spatial Design, London Metropolitan University 8 March
  • Mapping as a Tool. Organised by Public Works. Presentation on art schools as research centres. Stanley Picker Gallery, Faculty of Art and Design, Kingston University, London 6 February
  • Manifesto of Possibilities. Organised by Cameron Cartiere, Birkbeck University of London. Presentation on risk. Wellcome Trust Conference Centre, London 31 January


  • A setting in Search of a Celebratory End. Hosted by Paul O’Neill. Presentation on recent projects. Spike Island, Bristol, 23 November
  • Future Gallery. Organised by Public Works. Chaired debate on Public Works project with Siemens UK. Speakers: Kai Peters, Ashridge; Barbara Stevini, O+I; Kay Winsper, Siemens UK. Public Works studio, London, 2 November
  • Education and Location. Organised by Jan Altay. Presentation on the value and necessity of regional art schools. Spike Island, Bristol 8 September
  • Chris Evans Radical Loyalty. Organised by Anna Colin. Chaired debate on the work recent of Chris Evans. Studio Voltaire, London 8 June
  • Art Schools in Crisis? Models for the 21st Century. Presentations on the value and necessity of regional art schools. Speakers: Hans Ulrich Obrist, Irit Rogoff and Anton Vidolke. Hayward Gallery, London 10 March
  • The Rural Art Space. Organised by Kathrin Böhm and Adrian Plant. Presentation on projects which critically engage with the English landscape. The Music Hall, Shrewsbury 17 January


  • Diffusion: Collaborative Practice in Contemporary Art. Organised by John Roberts, Stephen Wright and Dominic Willsdon. Presentation on ‘Childhood’s End’. Tate Modern, London 25 October
  • Interventions in the City. Symposium organised by Martin Gent. Presentation on projects which critically engage with architecture. Department of Architecture and Spatial Design, London Metropolitan University 4 April


  • Unrealised: Projects 1997-2000. Colloquium organised by Cornford & Cross. Chaired by Edgar Schmitz, papers presented by Lynda Morris and John Timberlake. Nylon Gallery, London 16 November.


  • Working with Artists. Organised by Junction Arts Agency. Presentation on the arts commissioning process. Lighthouse Media Centre, Wolverhampton 24 November
  • East: Extra Curatorial Practices. Organised by Lynda Morris. Presentation on artists’ self-curation. Norwich School of Art 22 - 23 November

Public talks 


  • Middlesex University, London; Kingston University, London


  • ‘The Lost World of the Local Art School’ co author and presenter John Beck, Prospectus, Chelsea College of Art & Design, London
  • ‘The Art School verses the Culture Quarter’ co author and presenter John Beck, Stanley Picker Public Lecturer Series, Kingston University, London
  • ‘It Happened Here / Turfing Over History’ in conversation with Peter Seddon, Session Seven: ‘Art, Conflict and Memory: from Civil War to Cold War’, Social History Society 37th Annual Conference, University of Brighton
  • ‘Then and Now: Art, Image, Politics’, Art, Image, Politics, John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton, Southampton
  • ‘Cornford & Cross Projects’, co author and presenter David Cross, Art by Commission? Institut für Kunst im Kontext, Universität der Künste, Berlin
  • ‘The Art School and the Culture Shed’ co author and presenter John Beck, The Corporate Occupation of the Arts, Occupy LSX / The Bank of Ideas, London


  • ‘The Lost World of Provincial British Art Schools’, co author and presenter John Beck, Reflections on the Art School, Tate Britain, London
  • ‘The Art School in Ruins’, co author and presenter John Beck, Ruins Seminar, Newcastle University, Newcastle


  • ‘Excavating the British Art School’co author and presenter John Beck,Art Schools: Inventions, Invective and Radical Possibilities, University College London, London
  • ‘Excavating the British Art School’, co author John Beck, Utopics in Art and Architecture, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London
  • ‘Being There: Making Art in Context’, Inaugural Lecture, Sallis Benney Theatre, University of Brighton, Brighton 


  • ‘Projects by Cornford & Cross’, presentation co author and presenter David Cross, Social Places, The Courtyard Arts Centre, Hereford
  • ‘Past, Present and Future’ projects by Cornford & Cross, co author David Cross, Living Landscapes: Landscape & Environment, Aberystwyth University, Wales


  • ‘The Abolition of Work’, co author and presenter David Cross, Spatial Politics: The Physical Dimensions of Curating, Institute of Contemporary Art, London
  • ‘Art Schools & Art Education’, presentation, Question Education, Initiative & Institution Department of Architecture and Spatial Design, London, Metropolitan University
  • ‘Art Schools as Research Centres’,presentation, Mapping as a Tool, Stanley Picker Gallery, Faculty of Art and Design, Kingston University, Greater London
  • ‘Risk’, co author and presenter David Cross, Manifesto of Possibilities, Wellcome Trust Conference Centre, London
Grants and awards

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

External examining

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.

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