Staff profile

Matt Hawthorn

Interim Head of School: School of Arts

Matt Hawthorn writing on a clear whiteboard


Art and Design


College of Arts, Humanities and Education


School of Arts

Research centre

Digital and Material Artistic Research Centre



I am currently the Interim Head of School for the School of Arts.

My principle role in the University is as Head of the Design Discipline with responsibility for the development of teaching, learning, research and student experience across the programmes teams.

I also supervise, and am available to supervise, postgraduate research students in the area of creative pedagogy, experiential, environmental and critical design.

Teaching responsibilities

I teach across the Discipline of Design, generally focusing on interdisciplinary modules centred on critical and cultural practice and the development of students' research capabilities.

Research interests

My research draws on performance, architecture, new-ish media, pedagogy, experiential and speculative design, to develop participatory critical interpretations and interventions in public space. It is an integrative process, merging practice, research and teaching and has varied from intimate performances, public artworks and events and design consultations.

I am the Co-Lead of the Civic Lab, a public research group with over 70 members including individual practitioners and strategic organisations both regionally in the English Midlands and Internationally, centred on creative practice towards civic and social justice.

My pedagogic research is founded in Critical Pedagogy and has centred on the development of strategies that support innovation capabilities in undergraduate and postgraduate students. This focus has been given more precedence by the emerging context of Industry 4.0 and therefore Education 4.0 and the recent societal and environmental challenges. The work has been supported by two teaching development grants from the Higher Education Academy, firstly on scaffolding innovation and secondly on dialogic assessment in Art & Design and has been disseminated through a range of international conferences and networks.

Membership of professional bodies

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Advance HE)


Recent conferences

2022 Uncertain Art School, workshop for the ELIA Academy, Brussels, Belgium

2020 Schema – critical pedagogy and creative visualisation, workshop for the Florida Writing Programme, University of Florida, USA

2020 Experiential Design as Public Pedagogy, paper to the Architecture, Media, Politics, Society conference on Experiential Design at Florida State University, USA

2019 Design as Mindset, keynote panel for the International Conference on Applied Education, Technology and Innovation, THEi, Hong Kong

Recent publications

2017 The Body of Design: Process as Communion in Community and Environment Change

In Lee et al. (eds), Cumulus 33/10 Open Design for E-Very-Thing, Cumulus ISBN 978-952-60-0080-0

2016 The Body of Design: Process as Communion for Community and Environmental Change, paper presented to Cumulus, Open Design for E-Very-Thing, Hong Kong Design Institute

2015 Invited Speaker on Performance Art, Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition, York

2013 The Pathetic Landscape and the Infinite Archive, paper and video installation presented at Digital Resources in the Humanities and Arts, University of Winchester

2013 Multimodal Dialogic Assessment, paper on the HEA funded pedagogic research project presented to Digital Resources in the Humanities and Arts, University of Winchester

2012 Scaffolding Innovation, paper presented to Designs on E-Learning, University of the Arts: London

2012 Seeds of Pathos, artist talk and screening of Mercier and Camier at International Symposium of Electronic Art (ISEA), Hispanic Cultural Center: Albuquerque, New Mexico

2012 Pervasive Performance and Pedagogy, workshop delivered at European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA) Teachers Academy, Faculty of Fine Art: University of Porto

2012 Pathetic Landscape, paper presented to Performance Studies International at University of Leeds

2012 Scaffolding Innovation, paper presented to the staff panel of the British Conference of Undergraduate Research, University of Central Lancashire, UK

2008 [G]hosts in the Frame - Marking the Periphery,
in Cecchetto et al. (eds.), Collision: Inter-arts Practice and Research, Cambridge Scholars Press (2008)

2001 The Degenerate Art Book (Arnolfini) ISBN: 0 907738 67 2

2001 Haunting Contemporary Culture,
in Hawthorn, M., (ed), 2001, Degenerate Art Book, Bristol: Arnolfini
Published by Arnolfini, funded by the Arts Council of England

1999 Truancies
in Little, M.(ed.), (2000), In Violence, parallax, London: Taylor & Francis, ISSN no. 1353-4654

Experience in industry

2020 Backnang West 2050 (Caring Town), with Scott Brownrigg Architects / Design Research Unit / Macfarlane + Associates Landscape Architects.

Creative consultant and research lead for an international competition entry for the regeneration of Backnang West in Southern Germany. From an international field, the project was selected to progress to the development and exhibition stage alongside a range of major architectural practices. My role was to articulate the overarching creative, cultural and economic strategy underpinning the architectural and technical submission and to envision the transformation of the town in the context of the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution.

2015 - 2016 Erewash Mysteries (Environmental Consultation)

Following a successful competitive tender for Natural England. Arts led public engagement project, utilising a social design approach to interpret use and value in the Erewash Valley. The project developed a phone-based digital game and participatory art installation and workshops constructing narrative maps of the knowledge attitudes and practices towards the environment of a post-industrial valley. The project resulted in a report and design guide to inform the future development process.

July 2014 Everything there is to be known

Commissioned by York Curiouser and in collaboration with the River Foss Society, this was a large scale public artwork, animating the River Foss in York.

May 2014 Angels and Pins

Commissioned for the York Festival of Ideas this was an interactive work using pervasive game technology to enable audiences to investigate the social and environmental structures of the city through a mystery game.

Sept 2012 Mercier & Camier

Video works presented at ISEA in Albuquerque USA, in response to the technological construction of the landscape of New Mexico.