Chelsea Cafe Project #12 Francis Thorburn

The Ministry of Alternative Transport – M.A.T.


The Beast, Francis Thornburn_b

 Image courtesy of Eddie Powell 2015.

M.A.T. was established in 2008 by Francis Thorburn. Originally operating under the name of the “Alternative Transport Network”, the institution was set up to research the potential of man powered transport for the fast approaching age of the “petrol-less” world. With the appointment of the “Minister of Alternative Transport” (Francis Thorburn) M.A.T. was born.

To date M.A.T. has created and tested 13 man-powered vessels including two amphibious prototypes. The aim is to continue developing this fleet to deal with the predicted overwhelming demand. All the vehicles rely on the idea of collaborative labour to complete their specified journeys. With the absence of the combustion engine M.A.T. will usher in a return to our physicality once lost in the age of technology.

For Chelsea Cafe Project  Display #12, M.A.T. are presenting photographic documentation of “Vehicle #13 – The Beast” during its first road test. Accompanying this documentation the vehicle is on display in the parade ground of Chelsea College of Arts until February 18th.







This slideshow requires JavaScript.


If you would like to see more of the work done at M.A.T. please go to:

About the artist

Francis Thorburn is a practising artist working with performance and sculpture. Since 2008 he has been developing a series of processional performances, which use sculptural devices to head the procession. He wishes to fascinate and capture the audiences’ attention with the absurd and the extravagant, through ritualized action and the epic machine.

His performance work has been commissioned by Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the Centre for Contemporary Art Warsaw (Poland) and the Folkestone Triennial. He has exhibited across the UK with recent shows at the Olympic Park, Focal Point Gallery, The Grundy Gallery, The New Art Gallery, Generator Projects, and Embassy Gallery. Thorburn has also shown internationally in Australia, Korea, Portugal and Poland

For further details contact:

About the project

The Cafe Project is a series of displays of work by students and staff from Chelsea College of Art and Design.  These changing displays are a chance to see some of the talent here at Chelsea from across a diverse range of disciplines.  The series is curated in collaboration with CHELSEA space as part of the Public Programme.

For more information please contact Sinead Bligh at or in person at CHELSEA space.