The Ruskin Library has loaned works to two exhibitions which have opened recently

Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 22 November 2014 – 22 February 2015

“Confessions of the Imperfect 1849 – 1989 – Today”

 An exhibition inspired by Ruskin’s ideas which juxtaposes Ruskin’s work in a contemporary context and a thought provoking way.


Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, 22 November 2014 – 12 April 2015

“Art and Soul: Victorians and the Gothic”

 This exhibition presents a rare opportunity to see works by some of the greatest 19th-century artists and designers including works by John Ruskin from the Ruskin Library.


Posted in Exhibitions

Permanence and Fragility: Paintings and Drawings by Victoria Crowe

13 October – 12 December 2014

Lilies DrawingVictoria Crowe is well known for portraits of artists, writers and scientists including the poet Kathleen Raine (National Portrait Gallery), actor Graham Crowden (Scottish NPG) and most recently Prof. Peter Higgs, for the Royal Society of Edinburgh.   She is a member of the Royal Scottish Academy, and was appointed OBE in 2004.

More widely, her work embraces both figure and landscape, often in striking combination.  The series A Shepherd’s Life (1970-1985) focuses on life in the Scottish Borders, and one subject has been converted into tapestry by Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh.

She has a passion for the natural world, and also spends much time in Venice, which has inspired large paintings redolent with images of the city’s buildings and history.  These interests echo those of John Ruskin.

Reflections on the City_lightenedWhile the full range of her painting covers landscape, still lifes, portraits, self-portraits and interiors, much of her work defies such precise categorisation. Permanence and Fragility is an exhibition of paintings and drawings of plant forms and Venice, as selected by Stephen Wildman, the curator of the Ruskin Library, Lancaster University. Victoria Crowe’s work will be displayed alongside Ruskin’s Venetian and botanical works offering many points of connection and showing the striking similarities of two Artists centuries apart.



Posted in Exhibitions

Ruskin at Turner Contemporary, Margate

The Ruskin Library has loaned pictures, books and manuscripts to Jeremy Deller’s ‘English Magic’ exhibition at Turner Contemporary, Margate. The Turner Prize-winning artist, Jeremy Deller, represented the UK with ‘English Magic’ at the 2013 Venice Biennale, the world’s most prestigious contemporary art event. For the first time in the Biennale’s history the exhibition has been reconfigured for a UK tour, and John Ruskin’s work is included in this final showcase at Turner Contemporary:

“Deller uses ‘English Magic’ to explore mysterious acts and ‘magical’ transformations in British society – its people, myths and folklore as well as its broad cultural, socio-political and economic history.

The mythical power of popular music, the transformative promise of socialist movements and the trickery and concealment of politicians, oligarchs and big businesses all come under the spotlight as Deller assembles large-scale murals, drawings, photographs, film and historical materials to question what Englishness really means today.

From Neolithic hand axes, through William Morris, John Ruskin and the socialist movement, to David Bowie’s 1972 Ziggy Stardust UK tour, 21st Century capitalism and the invasion of Iraq, the exhibition weaves a mythical narrative through moments and events from Britain’s shared cultural memory, moving back and forth between the past, present and an imagined future.

For Turner Contemporary, a number of watercolours, sketchbooks and paintings of Venice by JMW Turner and John Ruskin have been added to the exhibition. Both artists, along with William Morris, a central character in the exhibition, were radical figures in Victorian society and campaigned for social and political change.”


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Mosaics of Olive Tree and Flowers c.1852

Ruskin’s works on display include illustrations for ‘The Stones of Venice’; Ruskin’s 1849 Diary Notebook; the Kelmscott Press edition of ‘The Nature of Gothic: A Chapter of the Stones of Venice’ with a preface by William Morris; ‘Unto This Last’ – four essays portraying deep concern about the economic and social order, and the materialism of the age and ‘A Morris Dance Round St Mark’s’ published in Punch, 1880.

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Byzantine Sculpture, Venice 1851-52

English Magic 11 October 2014 – 11 January 2015 Free admission

Posted in Exhibitions

Lancaster University Community Activities Day

On Saturday 13 September the University arranged a community activities day on campus, throwing its doors open to the local community and laying on special activities in different departments. This also coincided with the Heritage Open Days which run at the start of September each year.

The open day at the Ruskin Library was a huge success. There was barely a moment to rest as a constant stream of visitors flooded through the doors to see the building and the exhibition. People of all ages enjoyed a taste of the Ruskin Library workshops – sketching natural objects and making books.

Making Books

Making books at the Ruskin Library for University Community Activities Day and Heritage Open Days, 13 October 2014

Making Books

Making books at the Ruskin Library for University Community Activities Day and Heritage Open Days, 13 October 2014



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Ruskin Foundation launches annual London lecture series

The Ruskin Foundation, responsible for the UK’s largest archive of material relating to the life and work of the Victorian art and social critic, John Ruskin, will present the first of an annual series of London lectures on 18 September.

The lectures, which will be given by prominent public figures, have been made possible by a partnership with Sovereign Films, makers of the forthcoming film about Ruskin’s marriage, ‘Effie Gray’ to be released on 3 October.1996p1626 Ponte dei Pugni small

The first lecture, titled “Ruskin and Venice”, will be given by Anna Somers Cocks, the chief executive of The Art Newspaper and former chairman of Venice in Peril. She will reflect on Ruskin’s contribution to our understanding of Venice, in the light of the challenges that now confront the city.

The Ruskin Foundation was established in 1994 to promote the study of the ideas of John Ruskin (1819-1900). It has responsibility for the Whitehouse Collection of manuscripts, drawings, daguerreotypes, and books housed at the Ruskin Library, Lancaster University.

The Ruskin Library, which opened in 1998, is an award-winning building designed by the late Sir Richard MacCormac. It was specially designed to house and display the Whitehouse Collection, with an archive, reading room and public gallery.

The Whitehouse Collection is on long term loan to Lancaster University, which staffs and maintains the Ruskin Library and Research Centre, the UK’s only dedicated centre for research on Ruskin and his circle.

The Ruskin Foundation London Lecture is the second partnership with Sovereign Films. In 2012 a donation established “The Stones of Venice Fund”, to help researchers with travel and accommodation costs to encourage use of the Ruskin Library. The Ruskin Foundation exists to preserve the material legacy of John Ruskin, and to promote the study and dissemination of his ideas. It is a partnership between Lancaster University, Education Trust Ltd. (the owners of the Whitehouse Collection), and independent trustees.

Admission to the lecture is by ticket only. Lecture begins at 6.30pm 18th September 2014.

Venue: The Work Foundation, Part of Lancaster University, 21 Palmer Street, London SW1H 0AD. For tickets please contact Helen Wharton, telephone 015394 41396.

Posted in Lectures

Death of Sir Richard MacCormac


It is with great sadness we share the news of the death of Sir Richard MacCormac the Architect of the Ruskin Library.


In 2010 he revisited the Ruskin Library and gave a talk on the ideas behind the design and features of the building. A shortened version of the presentation along with photographs of the talk and the building is available at http://vimeo.com/18842060


Posted in Uncategorized

‘This Mountain Paradise': Ruskin on the Continent, 1835

12 May – 19 September 2014

By the time of the Ruskin family’s continental tour lasting from 2 June to 10 December 1835, the sixteen-year-old John Ruskin (1819-1900) was already a seasoned traveller. Taken by his parents John James and Margaret Ruskin to Scotland, the Lake District, Wales, the west of England and Kent between 1826 and 1832, he had also been with them to Paris and Brussels (including the field of Waterloo, in 1825) and across the Alps as far as Milan and Genoa in 1833. The 1835 itinerary helped to establish what would become Ruskin’s ‘old road,’ a familiar route through France and Switzerland into Italy.

1996P1437 Mount Pilatus

Both literature, especially the poems of Byron, and art were now important motivations. In 1832 Ruskin had received a birthday gift of Samuel Rogers’s Italy with engraved illustrations after J.M.W. Turner, including one of Venice, which now became a specific goal.   As a successful wine merchant, John James Ruskin could afford to take the family abroad in Turner’s footsteps, even taking their own coach.

The largest number of the 100 or more existing drawings made by Ruskin on the tour now form part of the Whitehouse Collection in the Ruskin Library. The majority are of Switzerland, which he later called “this mountain Paradise.” Mostly in pencil, some were engraved as illustrations for The Poetry of Architecture, his first important piece of writing, which appeared in The Architectural Magazine in 1837-38. There are also a few known attempts to turn drawings into finished watercolours: these are effectively Ruskin’s earliest works in the medium; of the handful that have been identified, two are in this exhibition.


Posted in Exhibitions