The public sculpture of post-war Derbyshire artist Ronald Pope: modernism, regionalism and civic engagement

Project summary

The research will include:

This doctoral project will help redress the historical neglect of post-war modernist sculptors who lived and worked in the English regions (and other nations of the UK) and lacked connection with London-based systems of critical, curatorial and economic support. The research will compare the work and professional experience of Derbyshire-based sculptor Ronald Pope (1920-97) with that of sculptors based in the capital. 

It will investigate how historical and geographical circumstances shaped Pope’s sculptural practice and its public and critical reception, locally, regionally and nationally. As the most prolific sculptor in the county between about 1950 and 1980, Pope produced over 60 works of public sculpture for civic, municipal, institutional and architectural clients. 

The project will examine the extent to which his sources of patronage (public or private) coincided with or deviated from those more typically accessed by metropolitan modernist sculptors and potentially determined the types of work he undertook. 

The researcher will benefit from access to Pope’s private papers (as arranged with the artist’s estate), while the locus of the research at the University of Derby gives proximity to important collections of Pope’s sculpture and drawings, and to his surviving public works in the Midlands (four of which are sited at the University). 

Guidance on accessing these archives, collections and works will be given by the Director of Studies, who is familiar with Pope’s sculpture through his research into Derbyshire’s public sculpture and post-war British sculpture more broadly.

Research cluster 

Digital and Material Artistic Research Centre 

Entry requirements

For our PhD programmes, we normally expect you to have a First or Upper-Second (2:1) honours degree and preferably a masters degree in a relevant subject such as Art History, Fine Art or Cultural Studies or qualifications that we consider to be equivalent. 

International students may also need to meet our English language requirements. Find out more about our entry requirements for international students.

Project specific requirements must align with the University’s standard requirements. 

How to apply

Please contact Associate Professor Robert Burstow ( in the first instance for more information on how to apply.


Self-funded by student. There is a range of options that may be available to you to help you fund your PhD.


Robert Burstow
Associate Professor of History and Theory of Art

As Associate Professor of History and Theory of Art, Dr Robert Burstow leads students undertaking post-graduate research in Arts and supervises PhD students researching the history and theory of art and/or contemporary Fine Art practice. He also teaches on the BA (Hons) Fine Art and MA Fine Art programmes. He has published extensively on the history of twentieth-century British art.