The Guild Today
The Guild of St George is a registered charity, an Education Trust which exists 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 vision, promoting his values and ideas in the present day. The Guild took a leading role, alongside other Ruskinian and cultural organisations and individuals, in the exhibitions, events and other celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of Ruskin’s birth in 2019.
Watch this short video introduction to the Guild below, and download our introductory Leaflet here
Working with Ruskin's ideas today
How can the ideas and writing of a Victorian polymath and social critic become actions that make lives better in the 21st century? In 1860, John Ruskin wrote these visionary and challenging words, ’There is no wealth but life’. In a world which still contains too much injustice and inequality, facing a climate emergency and now (summer 2020) riven with the social, political and economic impact of Covid-19, Ruskin's words resonate as urgently as ever and can inspire each of us - as individuals, Guild Companions, communities and organisations - to make a difference. We hope you will join us in this endeavour.
Ruskin Land, our land in the Wyre Forest, which includes a hundred acres of mostly oak woodland, two farmhouses, a sawmill and an orchard and wildflower meadow, is farmed with sympathy for natural life, in a close partnership with the Wyre Community Land Trust and more than 50 volunteers.
Many youth and adult groups and individuals visit Ruskin Land, and it hosts local, regional and national collaborations which benefit from the resources of this area of outstanding natural beauty, and the skills and expertise of the people who live and work on the land. The Guild is supporting work to regenerate the old orchards, hay meadows and oak woodland in the Wyre Forest, and it helped to build an architecturally striking study centre on its land, The Ruskin Studio.
The recent HLF-supported Ruskin in Wyre project sought to explore how John Ruskin’s idea of a utopian community in the forest is informing the revitalisation of this ancient woodland. It told the story of what happened on this land, bringing it to life and sharing the relevance of the ideas behind it for today.
We also own eight properties at Westmill, Hertfordshire, and value our connections with the village. And we are the custodians of a beautiful wildflower meadow in Sheepscombe, Gloucestershire, maintained by Natural England.
RUSKIN AND SHEFFIELD
The Guild’s Ruskin Collection, which was first established by Ruskin in Walkley, Sheffield, is now cared for by Museums Sheffield. Changing displays from the collection are shown for free in the permanent Ruskin Gallery at the Millennium Gallery in the heart of the city, and the Guild continues to add to the collection by acquisition and gift.
In the spring of 2019, the largest ever loan of the Ruskin Collection was show in London at Two Temple Place as part of the exhibition John Ruskin – The Power of Seeing, before returning to the main exhibition galleries of the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield, from May until September 2019.
Between 2014 and 2019, the Guild funded and delivered the Ruskin in Sheffield programme, designed to re-connect the Collection and Ruskin's legacy with Sheffield's communities. Ruskin in Sheffield involved more than 15,000 audiences, participants and many artists and craftspeople through its events and activities.
COLLABORATIONS, PROJECTS AND PARTNERSHIP
We occasionally provide 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, we funded the very successful Campaign for Drawing, now the independent charity 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.
We recently supported the Horsfall project run by 42nd Street, a mental-health charity 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.
We continue to support the May Day Festival initiated in the 1880s by Ruskin at Whitelands College in Roehampton, London, 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.
The Guild’s work in the Wyre happens in close collaboration with our partners at the Wyre Community Land Trust, a social enterprise working in the Wyre Forest to restore, conserve and manage the landscape.
LECTURES, SYMPOSIA, EVENTS AND PUBLICATIONS
We organises lectures, conferences and symposia on issues of current importance. These are designed to question the truisms of our day, much as Ruskin questioned those of his. Each year there are Companion events, including a Companions' Day, which usually involves a visit to one of our properties or projects. Every autumn the Companions gather for our AGM, which is followed by The Ruskin Lecture on a Ruskinian topic. This lecture, along with other books and pamphlets, is published by the Guild. Find our online bookshop here.