the 3rd john ruskin prize | recording britain now: society


The 3rd John Ruskin Prize was made possible with the generous support of The Pilgrim Trust, Guild of St George, New Art Gallery Walsall and 'Good Old Drawing'.

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The 3rd John Ruskin Prize Winners & Prize Finalists:

Prize winners: 1st Prize (£5000): Laura Oldfield Ford | 2nd Prize (£2000):  Jessie Brennan | Student Prize (£1000): Robin Sukatorn | People's Choice Award: Oliver Jones

Prize Finalists: Timothy Betjeman, David Borrington, Julian Bovis, Sally Cutler, Nathan Ford, Stephanie Grainger, Anne Guest, Susie Hamilton, Peter Haugh, Michelle Heron, Michael Johnson, Oliver Jones, Tony Kenyon, Myles Linley, Graham Martin, Julia Midgley, Joe Munro, Dominic Negus, Cherry Pickles, Hilary Powell, Teresa Robertson, Emily Vanns, Nettie Wakefield, Emma Wilde, Georgia Wisbey, Duncan Wood, Tanya Wood.

Selection Panel: Adam Dant (Artist), Gill Saunders (Senior Curator of Prints, Victoria & Albert Museum), Stephen Snoddy (Director, The New Art Gallery Walsall), Sue Grayson Ford (Founder, The Big Draw), Peter Miller (Director of Publications, Guild of St George).

The artworks selected (from over 700 entries) for The 3rd John Ruskin Prize, saw artists reflect upon and address a diverse range of topics including housing, CCTV, identity, technology and the political climate. The 2015/16 Prize encouraged artists to respond to the theme Recording Britain Now: Society, by focusing on contemporary social issues. Rather as 78 years ago the original Recording Britain mapped familiar townscapes and countryside under threat, this was an invitation to engage with a society in rapid transition. The Prize offered today's artists the opportunity to measure themselves against earlier commentators on the state of the nation. Thirty shortlisted artists were exhibited at The New Art Gallery Walsall (The first West Midlands host of the prize) between 25 February - 17 Aril, followed by a second showing at The Electrician's Shop gallery at Trinity Buoy Wharf from 5 - 22 May. 

“The artists selected for the exhibition present diverse perspectives on this year’s theme, with sensitive and sometimes unconventional insights into life in Britain today – from the evidence of poverty and homelessness on our streets to sites of urban regeneration cheek by jowl with dereliction and decay. But the sombre views are complemented by scenes which capture the energy, colour and conviviality that also characterise contemporary British society”.
— Gill Saunders, Senior Curator of Prints, V&A & The John Rskin Prize 2015 Selection Panel Member

“It’s always an honour to have work acknowledged publicly through an award, especially by selectors who are eminently respected and admired. Surviving in London as an artist (or as a human being, generally) is pretty tough, so the award is gratefully received in that respect too. Drawing is one of the ways I’ve attempted to challenge the narrative told by politicians and property developers of the need and justification for demolition of social housing estates. If the prize helps generate debate around the politics of regeneration – that is, asking whom it’s all really for – then this is an important legacy of the work, and fitting, of course, for the John Ruskin Prize. Many thanks to the Foundling Museum and residents of Robin Hood Gardens for their collaboration in my project and to all at the Big Draw – including the participating artists – for making the exhibition and award possible”.
— Jessie Brennan, 2nd Prize Winner, The John Ruskin Prize 2015

Press Releases: The 3rd John Ruskin Prize

26 April 2016 - Exhibition ‘Recording Britain Now: Society’  opens in London’s Docklands - read.

9 February 2016 - The John Ruskin Prize 2015/16: Preview and Prize-giving - read.

14 December 2015 - The John Ruskin Prize 2015 - Shortlist Announced - read.

10 November 2015 - UK Artists are Recording Britain Now for National Art Prize - read.

30 June 2015 - The John Ruskin Prize 2015: Call for Artists - read.




The first prize of £5000 was awarded to Laura Oldfield Ford for an outstanding body of work describing the marginalised and dispossessed in south London where she lives.  For over twenty years she has chronicled the radical reordering of urban space following de-industrialisation.  She explores Ruskinian themes of the ravages visited on people by industrialisation and the pursuit of profit. It was felt to be a timely comment on urban society in Britain in the current age of austerity and cuts. Laura Oldfield Ford is a London-based artist and writer. Her work reveals a continuing exploration of closely observed urban landscapes and spaces recorded through a variety of media.  The selection panel were struck by her long term commitment to exploring the edges of society, and capturing the interactions that often go unnoticed. 



STUDENT & GRADUATE PRIZE: ROBIN SUKATORN     'Jeremy Corbyn speaks in Manchester', graphite stick on paper. Robin Sukatorn, 2015  (SOLD) -   Read our interview with Robin


 'Jeremy Corbyn speaks in Manchester', graphite stick on paper. Robin Sukatorn, 2015 (SOLD) - Read our interview with Robin

The student prize of £1000 was awarded to Robin Sukatorn for his ‘reportage’ drawings, mostly of Manchester where he currently lives.  It included Jeremy Corbyn speaks in Manchester and his fluid rapid observations were strongly politically informed.

On winning the student prize Robin commented:

The prize has opened up the opportunity for me to expand the scope of a drawing project I am currently working on, in which I record scenes from the cultural, civic and political life of the north of England. I now have greater freedom to branch out from Manchester and travel to a wider variety of locations: indeed I have just returned from a four-day drawing trip through Sheffield, Hull and Leeds, and will shortly be visiting Newcastle, York and Liverpool. I am also now able to experiment more freely with a variety of media and processes- namely etching, lithography and painting- and to work on a larger scale. The prize has also spurred me to deepen my research into drawing as a creative practice, as well as expanding my understanding of the work and ideas of John Ruskin. Whilst in Sheffield I visited the Ruskin Collection at the Millennium Gallery, and I am currently reading a selection of his writings as well looking into the work of other practitioners and theorists of drawing and socially-focused art”. – Robin Sukatorn



The second prize of £2000 went to Jessie Brennan for her A Fall of Ordinariness and Light which was a series of four drawings depicting the planned demolition of the 1960s social housing estate Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar, East London.  It was cleverly expressed in graphite depicting the crumpling of paper to suggest the collapse of the building. Also shortlisted was the accompanying book REGENERATION! Conversations, Drawings, Archives & Photographs from Robin Hood Gardens, a 79-page book featuring important, first hand interviews with current residents of the estate which gives the residents a voice and more importantly exposes the social impact of rapid urban regeneration.

Image: A Fall of Ordinariness and Light', graphite on paper - Installation view. Jessie Brennan, 2014 (acquired by V&A collection) CLICK HERE TO BUY SIGNED, LIMITED EDITION PRINTS.

PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD: OLIVER JONES    3 Steps to Younger Looking Skin Pt 3.,  Pastel on paper, 2013. About The John Ruskin Prize


3 Steps to Younger Looking Skin Pt 3., Pastel on paper, 2013. About The John Ruskin Prize

Voted by an overwhelming majority of visitors to The John Ruskin Prize 2015 shortlist exhibition: Recording Britain Now: Society at The New Art Gallery Walsall, Oliver Jones was awarded the People's Choice Award.  Oliver had two pieces shortlisted: '3 Steps to Younger Looking Skin, Pt.3' (pictured above) and 'The Best a Man Can Get' - both from the 'Love the Skin You're in' series.

The hyper real pastel drawings received an excellecnt reception throughout the prize, of the works Oliver comments:

"Love the Skin You're In' challenges the culture of perfectionism flaunted to us in the media and through industry. Based on Industry slogans and tag lines the works aim to 're-advertise' a more truthful image of the flesh and the rituals undertaken to achieve these falsified visions that are all too familiar". - Oliver Jones