We regret to report that we have been forced to change the date of the Companions' Day from Saturday, 17th June to Saturday, 24th June.
The Guild Today
Today the Guild is a charitable Education Trust, which tries to put Ruskin's ideas into practice. Its purpose has never been to pursue antiquarian projects. It aims to work in the spirit of Ruskin's Company, promoting Ruskin's values in the modern world.
Our land in the Wyre Forest—which includes a hundred acres of mostly oak woodland, two farmhouses and another small dwelling, and an orchard and wildflower meadow—is farmed with sympathy for natural life. Many groups and individuals benefit from their visits to it. Our houses at Westmill, Hertfordshire, are well maintained and let at affordable rents. And we are the custodians of a beautiful wildflower meadow in Sheepscombe, Gloucestershire, maintained by Natural England.
The Guild continues to build the educational art collection—the Ruskin Collection—now housed in the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield, and first established by Ruskin in Walkley. The Guild initiated and funded a cycle of three Triennial Exhibitions inspired by the Ruskin Collection. The last of these exhibitions—In the Making: Ruskin, Creativity and Craftsmanship—will run from January to June 2016. In 2014, it embarked on the RUSKIN in SHEFFIELD project run by Ruth Nutter to re-connect the Collection and Ruskin's legacy with Sheffield's communities.
GRANTS, PROJECTS AND COLLABORATIONS
The Guild occasionally provides grants to organisations and individuals to support projects covering a wide variety of areas of interest to Ruskin and his followers. In the recent past, it funded the very successful Campaign for Drawing, now an independent charity called The Big Draw which has a global profile. The Guild initiated and helps to fund the John Ruskin Prize which is run by the Big Draw. In 2016, Kate Mason, Director of the Big Draw, gave a summary of the objectives of the organisation, and looked ahead to the John Ruskin Prize in 2017: watch her presentation online here.
Since 2013 the Guild has supported the Horsfall project run by 42nd Street, a mental-health chairty for young people based in Manchester. The project aims to re-animate the cultural heritage of the Ancoats Art Museum set up in the 1880s by Ruskin's disciple, Thomas Coglan Horsfall.
The Guild organises symposia on issues of current importance. These are designed to question the truisms of our day, much as Ruskin questioned those of his. The Guild is supporting work to regenerate old orchards and hay meadows in the Wyre Forest, and it helped to build an architecturally striking study centre on its land, The Ruskin Studio. It is now embarking on more ambitious rural projects.
The Guild continues to support the May Day Festival initiated in the 1880s by Ruskin at Whitelands College, presenting a selection of Ruskin's books every year to the May Monarch elected by her or his peers. You can read about the history of the Festival here. In 2014, the Guild and Whitelands joined together to fund a new Whitelands Ruskin Lecture which the Guild also publishes.
The Guild is run by the Master, a Board of Directors, an administrator and a communications officer, with support from Companions and other volunteers. The Board meets for business meetings at least three times a year. In the summer, the Guild organises a Companions' Day, which usually involves a visit to one of its properties or projects. Every autumn the Companions gather for their AGM, which is followed by The Ruskin Lecture on a Ruskinian topic. This lecture, along with other books and pamphlets, is also published by the Guild.
The Master of the Guild is Clive Wilmer. The Directors are Dr Janet Barnes, Chris Harris (Treasurer), John Iles, Peter Miller, Dr Rachel Dickinson and Jenny Robbins. The administrator is Martin Green and the communications officer is Dr Stuart Eagles.