Dr Rachel Dickinson gave a wonderful talk about John Ruskin, as part of the Cultural Landscapes series of talks, at the University of Cumbria.
Rachel is the Master of the Guild of St George, the first woman to ever hold the post. She has a particular interest in how Ruskin uses dress and cloth to offer solutions to social, ethical, aesthetic and economic problems.
Her talk explored how John Ruskin, and the Arts and Crafts movement more generally, promoted and fostered many of the traditional crafts. She covered linen and lace making in the Lake District, and beyond, during the late Victorian era. In her wide-ranging exploration of Ruskin's impact on crafts and society she referenced Albert Fleming of the Langdale Linen Industry and Annie Garnett of the Windermere Lace Industry.
Rachel talked about ethical consumerism and the simple beauty of well made items of clothing and household goods. Many of the areas she covered chimed with today's interest in sustainability and creating a fairer and more environmentally friendly society.
As I listened to Rachel's fascinating talk, I thought about my own journey to purchasing more sustainable clothing and accessories, as well as knowing the provenance of the items I purchase. Many of the brands I love would have chimed with Ruskin's values, and his belief in the ways to create a happy, healthy and wealthy society.
All in all, a simply fascinating talk. Possibly one of the best talks in the Cultural Landscape series.