Ian Cornford completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) with Honours in Education and Majors in History and English in 1968 as well as a Graduate Diploma in Education in 1969 at the University of Sydney. In 1986 he was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy, also from the University of Sydney, in Educational Psychology. He has published widely in international and Australian journals and books on cognitive psychology, skill learning, the development of expertise, transfer of learning and educational policy.

After meeting Margel and Frank Hinder at Gallery A in the mid-1970s, and developing a close friendship with them, he began researching the art and achievements of the Second Wave Sydney Moderns, centered upon Frank and Margel Hinder, Grace Crowley, Rah Fizelle, Ralph Balson and Eleonore Lange. As research for this book, Ian travelled widely in the UK, Europe and the USA viewing and studying art, and especially collections related to modernism and the forms of geometric abstraction favoured by the Second Wave Sydney Moderns.

The first draft of The Sculpture of Margel Hinder was completed around 1988, after extensive interviews with both Margel and Frank Hinder. The Sculpture of Margel Hinder is the author's first major publication on this group of artists, although his art scholarship and understanding of this period in Australian art history have been drawn upon and acknowledged in other recent publications on Grace Crowley.