As we were in Sheffield this weekend, we decided to take the opportunity to visit Ruskin's Guild of St George. The Guild is located in the Millennium Gallery, and the ever-changing exhibition includes manuscripts, paintings, minerals and crystals.
The Ruskin Collection was given to Sheffield's working people by John Ruskin in the 1870s. He always intended that this eclectic collection should be used as an inspiring and creative tool. He amassed the manuscripts, minerals, watercolours and drawings to reveal connections between nature and art, and to encourage the inventiveness of artists and craftsmen, of whom he considered the 19th century metalworkers of Sheffield to be among the finest in Europe. Most importantly, he wanted it to open all our eyes to beauty in the everyday world.
John Ruskin has so much to say to us, today. There is so much that we can learn from his writing. It's taken me years to recognise that Ruskin matters. For years, I just thought he was a rather fusty Victorian, albeit with a gorgeous home in Brantwood! Now, however, I really appreciate his philosophy of life, nature, art and literature.
In 1860, John Ruskin wrote these visionary and challenging words, "there is no wealth but life". These words resonate more than ever in a world which still contains too much injustice and inequality. The man I thought was rather dull and boring was instead visionary. He inspired great thinkers like William Morris, Mahatma Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Ruskin's aspirations and aims chime so strongly with the best of society today, aims which would improve people's lives immeasurably:
- to turn wasteland into food-producing plots
- to protect wildlife
- to educate all people in schools according to their specific needs
- to open public libraries and galleries as a national and cultural store for all people
What an inspiring thinker and how good to see so much of his thinking in Sheffield.