The North West Art School Record Machine

John Beck (Curator/Producer), Matthew Cornford (Curator/Producer)

Research output: Non-textual outputExhibition


The grand nineteenth century art school buildings of the North West were intended to train workers for local industry, but after the Second World War they also served to incubate the generations of musicians and designers responsible for transforming British popular culture. The art school became, among other things, a record machine.
This exhibition, part of the Design Manchester DM19 Festival, celebrates the art schools of the North West and the records that emerged from them. Art schools often called attention to themselves by displaying on the outside, through inscriptions, friezes, or stained glass windows, what was going on inside. As part of their ongoing survey of British art school buildings, John Beck and Matthew Cornford present here a series of images of North West art schools that focus on the overlooked details that mark the buildings as sites of creative activity. Alongside Bury’s art school building in Broad Street, institutions in Manchester, Rochdale, Lancaster, Northwich, Ashton-under-Lyne and other towns are included.

The North West Art School Record Machine has been developed from Beck and Cornford’s exhibition, The Art Schools of North West England, shown at Bluecoat in Liverpool, 2018-19. For this new exhibition, Bluecoat’s Artistic Director Bryan Biggs has gathered an astonishing range of over 100 record sleeves, produced by designers and musicians who all, in one capacity or another, emerged from the art schools of the North West. Their graphic art gives visual form to what lies within the sleeves - from Merseybeat to prog rock, punk to indie and dance.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2019
EventThe North West Art School Record Machine - Bury Art Museum & Sculpture Centre, Bury, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Oct 201925 Jan 2020


  • Art
  • Education
  • photography
  • architecture


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