This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Ruskin and to celebrate a series of events and exhibitions are taking place across the city this summer.
Ruskin in Manchester sees several of the city’s finest institutions come together to showcase the life and work of the art critic, writer, ecologist and philanthropist.
One of the events currently taking place is Ruskin Reviews: ‘Perfectly painted’ or ‘catastrophe’? and is being held in Manchester Art Gallery.
The Gallery’s Curator of Fine Art, Hannah Williamson, gives a gallery tour to consider Ruskin’s views on works in Manchester’s collection.
“I really wanted to contribute to the Ruskin festival in a positive way,” said Ms. Williamson.
“Everyone’s always talking these days about Ruskin and social change and what a polymath he was, but I thought it would be good to take it back to basics and what he first became famous for: his art criticism.”
Indeed, the tour guides you through a brief history of Ruskin’s childhood before proceeding to touch upon his personal and professional life as an art critic.
The tour moves through the different galleries and highlights various pieces, including works by Dughet, Turner and Millais and the criticism that Ruskin directed towards their respective art.
Ms. Williamson encourages the audience to express their own views on the artwork and Ruskin’s critiquing and successfully emphasises how Ruskin was held in high-regard by many and how he influenced people’s views towards art and various societal issues.
Even now, over 100 years after his death in 1900, Ms. Williamson is eager to point out that Ruskin’s views are equally important today, particularly on societal issues like pollution and poor working conditions.
She said: “He wrote a famous work where he talked about the storm cloud of the 19th Century and the way man was treating his environment made him anxious to an extent and I think we can all relate to that now.
“He was a campaigner for social change. He wanted people to realise that man is not a machine and I really like his attitude towards work.
“Ruskin said to be a good worker you have to have an aptitude for the job, you have to not do too much of the job, and you have to have a sense of success in the job.
“You can’t just go in and repetitively do the same task and be treated as if you’re a machine; and I think the more people remember that today, the better.”
The next Ruskin Reviews: ‘Perfectly painted’ or ‘catastrophe’? tour at Manchester Art Gallery is on Wednesday, July 3, 2019.