Walsall School of Art. Photographer: Matthew Cornford

John Beck and Matthew Cornford
The Art Schools of the West Midlands

17 February – 2 July 2023

The many art schools established in the West Midlands in the nineteenth century are indicative of the industrial power of the region at this time. Support for training in art, crafts and design was seen as good business and as a civic benefit, training workers and enriching the cultural life of the community.

John Beck and Matthew Cornford have set themselves an ambitious task of identifying, researching and documenting all of the art schools across the country. In this exhibition they present a photographic survey of thirty-seven West Midlands art schools, or the sites upon which they stood, along with related archival material. A few are still in operation, many have been re-purposed and some have been abandoned or demolished.
The exhibition offers an opportunity to reflect on the changing nature of art education and the value of creativity and to consider what the future might hold for the development of creative minds in our schools, colleges and universities.

A dedicated Instagram account has been created for the project by the artists: @theartschoolproject

Interview with John Beck & Matthew Cornford

Recording of In Conversation event held in March 2023

Exhibition opening
Thursday 16 February 2023, 6 – 8pm. Free, all welcome.

In Conversation
Saturday 25 March 2023, 2-4pm. Free.
Artists John Beck and Matthew Cornford in conversation with Dr Linzi Stauvers (Acting Artistic Director, Education, Ikon Gallery) discussing The Art School Project.
Please book your place via Eventbrite, at our Reception Desk in person or by calling 01922 654400.