The Art School and Culture Shed

In this three-part series, John Beck and Matthew Cornford continue their project to document the demise of the British regional art school.

Over the last five years, Beck and Cornford have been tracking down and photographing the sites of British regional art schools. While many towns in the UK used to have a dedicated art school, now there are only a handful left; most of the buildings have been repurposed or, in some cases, demolished.

In this series, Beck and Cornford investigate the history of art education within a broad cultural history of the UK. Their three shows, The Art School in Ruins, The Art Student in Popular Culture and The Art School and The Culture Shed, continue their work in exploring what the decline of the local art school and the rise of the ‘destination’ art gallery tell us about changing ideas about the function of art, its possible civic purpose, and the relationship between participation and spectatorship. Their work also seeks to answer the question of how did the ‘creative economy’ come to replace ‘art school’ as a descriptor of local cultural value and why does it matter.

This series is being made by John Beck, University of Westminster, and Matthew Cornford, University of Brighton. It will be broadcast in a future series of Modulations: Broadcasting Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, on Resonance 104.4fm.