Global Challenges Academy

Staff Profile

Professor Andrew Burton

Professor of Fine Art


My specialism is in contemporary sculpture, particularly in sculpture situated in relation to ceramics, craft and architecture. I have worked extensively in Europe, Asia and Africa including with the European Ceramics Work Centre and the British Council in India. I  have twice been Asem Duo (Korea) Exchange Professor. I am a Fellow of the Royal British Society of Sculptors and a member of the International Academy of Ceramics. In 2015 I was awarded Gold Prize at the KOCEF Biennale for Ceramic Sculpture in South Korea.

I have supervised, and continue to supervise PhD students on a range of topics ranging from the use of concrete in contemporary sculpture to the relationship between landscape, archaeology and contemporary sculpture. I welcome inquiries from prospective PhD applicants interested in my fields of specialism. 


My research and creative practice is in the field of contemporary sculpture with an emphasis on material, process and form.  I work with materials as various as chilli peppers, bamboo, clay and cow dung - often exploring how these materials can work in combination with each other. Much of m work is collaborative. In 2011 I worked  with a group of village women from farming communities around Delhi to create a group of 'bithooras' -  extraordinary cow-dung structures based on fuel stores found on the periphery of Delhi for the National Craft Museum in Delhi. More recently I have been working with artisan workers in Kampala to explore how everyday low-tech practices can find different resonances through visual art. I have also been working in East Africa with a group of visual art professionals, exploring a flourishing visual art ecology in the region.  

Much of my work experiments with reclaiming and re-using materials. My sculptures are often conceived as temporary structures – after a sculpture has been resolved it is broken up, with the component parts salvaged to form the building blocks for the next work. My sculptures made from miniature bricks are  painted or coloured before they are dismantled. Over time, and as the bricks are formed into many different sculptures they gradually acquire on their surfaces a patina of the scraps of paint, cement and glaze that still remain. These surfaces convey a sense of their own history, alluding to the way in which over history architectural structures have anticipated our current concern with reuse.This work explores scale, referencing both monumental and day-to-day structures. In its emphasis on the re-use and recycling  of earlier sculpture, the works provoke questions about the nature of monumentality and tensions between conservation and sustainability.

This year we complete our major Arts and Humanities Research Council funded research project 'Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage experience' This three year project has explored the commissioning  of temporary visual art in heritage sites from multiple perspectives: does contemporary visual art sited in heritage properties really change the way visitors understand and appreciate the property itself? What challenges do artists face when they undertake these kinds of project? What is the landscape of this activity across the UK? Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience is a collaboration between Newcastle and Leeds universities, the National Trust, English Heritage, the Churches Conservation Trust, Arts Council England and the Contemporary Visual Art Network. Other highlights for 2019 have been my work with the British Ceramics Biennial in Stoke-on-Trent and the Korean Ceramics Biennale, KOCEF near Seoul. 


I teach across all stages of the undergraduate and postgraduate Fine Art programmes.