celebrating the bicentenary of john ruskin’s birth 1819 | 2019

Organisations across the world are celebrating the bicentenary of John Ruskin’s birth this year with a series of special events exploring Ruskin’s radical and increasingly relevant ideas on society, culture, politics, environmental issues and everything in between. A true polymath and social justice pioneer, Ruskin’s legacy will be explored through exhibitions, talks, publications and workshops. A selection of upcoming events below:




Private View & Prize Giving: 11 july 2019 |18:30 - 20:30 | SAVE THE DATE

Exhibition Continues: 12 July - 24 August 2019 | Wed - Sat, 12:00 - 18:00 (Thursdays until 19:00) | Free

Visual literacy charity The Big Draw, joined with Prize Founders The Guild of St George and supporters of The John Ruskin Prize 2019 are please to extend an invitation to join us for the preview and Prize Giving of The John Ruskin Prize 2019: Agent of Change taking place on Thursday 11 July 2019 at The Holden Gallery, Manchester.


In response to a nationwide call, which is open for submissions until 12 May, 25 artists and designers will be invited to show their selected works at a high profile exhibition at The Holden Gallery from 11 July - 24 August 2019. Three prize finalists will be announced at the Private view as The John Ruskin Prize 2019 Prize Winners.

This year, we are inviting artists, designers and makers over 18, currently resident or with work represented in the UK, to respond to the theme: Agent of Change.


John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing | Two Temple Place, London, WC2R 3BD

26 January – 22 April 2019

Exhibition & programme: Organised by the Guild of St George, Two Temple Place and Museums Sheffield 


Artist, art critic, educator, social thinker and true polymath, John Ruskin (1819-1900) devoted his life to the pursuit of knowledge. To mark the bicentenary of his birth, a new exhibition produced by Two Temple Place, Museums Sheffield and the Guild of St George, will celebrate the legacy and enduring relevance of Ruskin’s ideas and vision. John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing will bring together over 190 paintings, drawings, daguerreotypes, metal work, and plaster casts to illustrate how Ruskin’s attitude to aesthetic beauty shaped his radical views on culture and society.

The exhibition will showcase significant objects from Sheffield’s Guild of St George Ruskin Collection whilst also drawing on the rich collections of both regional and national public museums and galleries, including, The Ashmolean; Calderdale Museums; The Fitzwilliam; Gallery Oldham; The Ruskin Library, Lancaster; Leeds Museums and Art Gallery; Tate; Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village and the William Morris Gallery. Newly commissioned works including site-specific installations by Timorous Beasties and Grizedale Arts, a new moving image piece by Dan Holdsworth and contributions from artists Hannah Downing and Emilie Taylor will also feature, exploring Ruskin’s contemporary legacy. More information


nationwide call for entries: The John Ruskin Prize 2019

8 February - 19 may 2019 | 1st prize £3k | 2nd prize £1k | student prize £1k

The John Ruskin Prize is the fastest growing multi-disciplinary art prize in the UK. Inaugurated in 2012 by The Guild of St. George and organised by visual literacy charity, The Big Draw (Charity no. 1114811), The Prize aims to uphold John Ruskin’s beliefs whilst challenging the nation’s artists to consider their role as societal change makers and innovators. The Prize also embraces Ruskin’s polymathic sensibilities, welcoming entries from artists, designers and makers focusing on the strengths of multidisciplinary practice. The John Ruskin Prize calls to creatives across the nation to respond to challenging themes, the resulting exhibitions have attracted diverse audiences and received wide critical acclaim. SUBMISSIONS NOW OPEN.

good looking.jpg


6 February – 7 April 2019

Exhibition: Ruskin’s Good Looking!: Absence and presence in John Ruskin’s clothing.  Drawings by Sarah Casey. 

Ruskin thought of architectural and natural ornament as forms of dress which simultaneously cloak and reveal. References to textiles and clothing occur throughout his work and he famously inspired the local linen industry with the production of Ruskin Lace. Sarah Casey applies Ruskin’s ideas about drawing, looking and appearance to explore the details of his own clothes, many items of which survive at Brantwood. Sarah has been artist in residence at Brantwood through 2018. Her show, which includes work on Ruskin’s christening robe, will open in time to mark the 200th Anniversary of Ruskin’s birth on 8th February 1819, and his christening 13 days later.

Sarah makes drawings which test the limits of visibility and material existence. Her delicate and elusive drawings ask: at what point does visibility disappear and drawing become immaterial? Her practice reflects a fascination with the unseen, untouchable and unspoken. Sarah Casey is Lecturer in Sculpture and Installation at Lancaster University.

More information



John Ruskin: The Argument of the Eye | Ondatje Wing Lecture Theatre, National Portrait Gallery, london, WC2H 0HE

7 February 2019 | 13:15 (doors open 12:45)

Talk: Speaker: Prof. Robert Hewison

Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions and Gallery Supporters) Book online, or visit the Gallery in person

On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of John Ruskin’s birth, Robert Hewison (recognised expert on the work of John Ruskin, 1819-1900), explores the life and ideas of the Victorian era's leading art critic through his autobiographical writings and his encounters with a series of major works of art.

Robert Hewison published his first study, John Ruskin: The Argument of the Eye in 1976. He has published several books on Ruskin, and he co-curated the exhibition Ruskin, Turner and the Pre-Raphaelites at Tate Britain in 2000. He is a Visiting Professor at the Ruskin Library and Research Centre at Lancaster University, a Trustee of the Ruskin Foundation, and a former Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford. In 2010 Yale University Press published his Ruskin on Venice: “The Paradise of Cities”. He has also published widely on aspects of 20th century British cultural history. More information and booking.

Chamonix; hill with trees sloping upwards to l. 1850 Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, touched with white, over graphite  British Museum CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Chamonix; hill with trees sloping upwards to l. 1850 Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, touched with white, over graphite

British Museum CC BY-NC-SA 4.0


Ruskin, Science and the Environment | Oxford University Museum, Oxford, OX1 3PW

8 February | 09:30 - 18:00

Conference: Standard tickets £20 / Student tickets £10

The Victorian art teacher and social reformer John Ruskin died in 1900, but his ideas remain deeply relevant today. In honour of his 200th birthday, the museum is hosting a symposium where experts on Ruskin, Victorian culture and the environment will discuss his views on science and natural history, and on the impact of industrialisation on people’s health and the world around them.

Speakers will include Kate Flint (Southern California), Mark Frost (Portsmouth), Peter Garratt (Durham), Sandra Kemp (Director of the Ruskin Research Centre, Lancaster), Francis O’Gorman (Edinburgh), John Parham (Worcester) and Marcus Waithe (Cambridge). There will also be a brief introduction to Ruskin Land from John Iles and a tour of the museum by John Holmes (Birmingham). At 6 in the evening, the conference will be followed by a public lecture by Fiona Stafford (Oxford) on ‘Ruskin’s Trees’.

More information and booking.


Ruskin's Trees | Oxford University Museum of Natural History, oxford, OX1 3PW

8 February 2019 | 18:00 - 19:00

Lecture: Free, booking required


Professor Fiona Stafford explores Ruskin’s life-long love of trees. To celebrate John Ruskin’s 200th birthday, hear about his lifelong love of trees, from the idyllic garden at his family home in Herne Hill to his Lake District estate at Brantwood. Ruskin looked at trees with an eye trained by painting, a mind coloured by literature, a heart lifted by a sense of the divine manifest in the natural world. Above all, he looked at trees as trees and urged his audiences to see the world afresh. The public lecture is free of charge.

‘Ruskin’s Trees’ is co-organised by the Diseases of Modern Life project, the European Research Council, the Constructing Scientific Communities project, the AHRC, the Nineteenth-Century Centre at the University of Birmingham, and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

More information and booking

JR Elliot and Fry,   John Ruskin (detail),  1869.

JR Elliot and Fry, John Ruskin (detail), 1869.

All Great Art is Praise: a celebration of John Ruskin’s 200th Birthday | The Benjamin West Lecture Theatre, Royal Academy of Arts, London
sold out

8 February 2019 | 18:30

An evening of readings and music from Ruskin, featuring actors Michael Palin and Dan Draper, and songs realised by Sarah Rodgers, including a performance of her setting of “The King of the Golden River” by Richard Edgar-Wilson and the Coull Quartet.

This event is now sold out.


Exploring London Life Through Art | Working Men's College, London, NW1 1TR

16 February | 10:00 - 14:00

Event: Big Draw Festival Event | Free, all welcome

You are invited to come and join Foundation Diploma and Childcare learners in the production of a huge collaborative drawing depicting London life in all its diversity. All are welcome and equipment and materials will be provided, all you need to bring along is your creativity and ideas!! Pop in whenever you can, everyone can take part in the production of this exciting art work.  

More information and contact.

WMC – The Camden College, historically known as Working Men’s College (WMC), is the oldest surviving adult education institute in Europe, was founded in 1854 and was associated with the Cooperative Movement and the Socialists, stemming, from the same tradition that led later to the Worker’s Educational Association. The Working Women’s College, founded 10 years later in 1864, finally merged with WMC in 1967. Early supporters of both have included F D Maurice, John Stuart Mill, Tom Hughes, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Ruskin, Ford Maddox Brown, Walter de la Mare and Octavia Hill.

Inspired by Ruskin |

Inspired by Ruskin |

Ruskin Bicentennial Exhibition | Working Men's College, London, NW1 1TR


Exhibition: Learners from the Working Men's College. Part of Ruskin Bicentennial Celebrations.

Opening event for the Working Men's College Ruskin inspired exhibition.This evening will be an opportunity for the public to visit the exhibition of work by learners form the Working Men's College. the exhibition is inspired by the work of John Ruskin, one of the founders of the college.

Part of The Big Draw Festival. More information and contact here.

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