About The John Ruskin prize

Previous prizes

The John Ruskin Prize 2017, Hand & Eye: Master of All Trades in The Age of Jack, celebrated artist as polymath. The critically acclaimed shortlist exhibition was held at The Millennium Gallery, Sheffield from June - October 2017 and showcased an eclectic range of work of the 26 prize finalists, selected from over 1000 entries. 3 winners were awarded a total of £5000 in prizes and the exhibition attracted over 44,000 visitors. READ MORE. The selected artworks defied easy categorisation, dissolved boundaries and had a joyous disregard for the conventions of their chosen materials and disciplines. Several works addressed the parallel between artist and scientist, combined traditional craft with social commentary, displayed skilful material manipulation and a keen visual wit.

Since The John Ruskin Prize launched in 2012, we have held 4 national prizes, considered entries from over 3000 artists and makers, awarded £15000 in prizes to 8 winning artists, promoted and displayed the work of 102 shortlisted artists and designers at high profile national museums and galleries attracting an audience of over 115,000 visitors to John Ruskin Prize shortlist exhibitions and events. Now approaching its 5th year, coinciding with the bicentenary of John Ruskin’s birth in 2019, the prize continues to grow in reach, reputation and support for artists whose work defies easy categorisation.


Organised by The Big Draw, charity no. 1114811

The John Ruskin Prize is the fastest growing multi-disciplinary art prize in the UK. With the values of the radical polymath John Ruskin at it's core, the #RuskinPrize has a growing reputation for supporting and promoting artists, designers and makers whose work defies easy categorisation.

The John Ruskin Prize was inaugurated in 2012 by The Guild of St. George and The Big Draw (formerly The Campaign for Drawing). Organised and delivered by The Big Draw, The Prize aims to uphold John Ruskin’s beliefs: An impassioned critic, not only of art but of society and life. He believed that art has the power to expose universal truths, and that a good artist should do just that. Ruskin was a writer, artist, social critic, polymath and aesthete. The prize also embraces Ruskin’s polymathic sensibilities, and in 2017 expanded the remit of the prize welcoming entries from artists, designers and makers focusing on the strengths of interdisciplinary practice through the 2017 theme: Hand & Eye: Master of All Trades.

‘The greatest thing a human being ever does in this world is to see something… To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion all in one’. - John Ruskin



John Ruskin (1819-1900) was a writer, artist and philanthropist. He championed many of the tenets of the welfare state, and inspired the founders of the National Health Service, the formation of Public Libraries, the National Trust and many other cornerstones of civil society in the last one hundred years. His influence reached abroad in such areas as women’s education, the minimum wage, child labour, and environmental protection and has served both as a restraining influence on unbridled capitalism and a moral conscience for the nations of the world.

He wrote on many things: art and architecture, nature and craftsmanship, literature and religion, political economy and social justice —a dizzying variety of subjects. He also worked tirelessly for a better society; the depth and range of his thinking, his often fierce critique of industrial society and its impact on both people and their environment, and his passionate advocacy of a sustainable relationship between people, craft and nature, remain as pertinent today as they were in his own lifetime.