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Rural Projects


E-Newsletter (July 2017)

Dear Companions and Friends,

GUILD DIARY (click on the event for more info where available)

NB. The John Ruskin Prize exhibition runs at Millennium Gallery, Sheffield, from 21 JUN to 08 OCT.

15 JUL Big Draw on the Manor (Manor Fields Park, Sheffield)
20 JUL
Drawing Lessons with Prof Ruskin: a talk by Louise Pullen (MG, Sheffield)

10 SEP
Big Draw in Meersbrook (Meersbrook Park, Sheffield)

14 SEP Ruskin Art Club: Ruskin Lecture by Amy Woodson-Boulton (Los Angeles, CA).
23 SEP
How we might live: Ruskin symposium (San Francisco, CA).

30 SEP Rethinking Ruskin’s Elements of Drawing: Symposium (London Sketch Club).
14 OCT Celebrating the Big Draw in Sheffield
04 NOV
Guild AGM (MG, Sheffield)


On Friday, 16th June, the Hive Café officially opened on Vittoria Street in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Part of Ruskin Mill Trust’s development of the New Standard Works, the café is managed by Companion Gareth Pert, formerly of Gerry’s Bakery in Walkley, Sheffield.

One of the key features of RMT’s educational programme is to encourage students to learn about our relationship with the land through hands-on involvement in planting, growing and harvesting. They then wash, prepare and cook the food in the kitchens for wholesome consumption by others. The site is still being developed, but in addition to the kitchens and café, it has craft rooms and workshop areas, and the most magnificent roof garden with a large polytunnel. It crowns the building and very much symbolises the revitalisation and re-purposing of Birmingham’s industrial heritage.

The café, which is open to the public and forms an important community resource, is run with the assistance of the students themselves. Ruskinians will be delighted by wall decorations and displays in the café which explore Birmingham’s heritage, with a particular focus on Ruskin’s legacy, thanks to the work of Ruth Nutter, Producer of RUSKIN in SHEFFIELD, who is a consultant to RMT’s Birmingham project.

The Guild sends its heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to the team at RMT, notably Companions Aonghus Gordon, Janine Christley and Gareth Pert.


Many thanks to all of you who joined the large crowd that gathered for the Private View and awards evening for The John Ruskin Prize 2017 on 20 June. The exhibition of shortlisted works, Master of All Trades, is open until 8 October at Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery.

Congratulations to the winners of the Prize this year (works below, L-R, 1st-Student):
1st Prize: Rosa Nguyen (£3000);
2nd Prize: Bethan Lloyd Worthington (£1000):
Student & Graduate Award: Fi Smart (£1000).

(Click or tap images to enlarge.)

Read more on the JRP website, run by The Big Draw.

If you have discovered a few new favourite artists and designers among the exhibited works, you might be interested in the new Ruskin Prize Editions collection, featuring new editions and original works by the artists, some of them exclusive to the collection. Take a look.


Westmill Village Hall (left) and the Village Tea Rooms (right)

We were delighted to fill the small Village Hall in the beautiful Hertfordshire village of Westmill, with our Companions’ Day on 24 June. Guild Companions and residents of the village came together, including some of the tenants who live in the Guild’s properties there. The seven cottages, and one commercial property run as the village Tea Rooms, were given to the Guild by Companion Mary Hope Greg (1850-1949), the subject of a fascinating and entertaining talk on the day by Liz Mitchell. (Copies of Liz’s lecture are available from the Guild’s Shop.) Mrs Greg also created the Greg Trust to look after other amenities and properties in the village, and representatives of the Trust, and other helpers, contributed massively to the success of the day, especially Michael McRae who got things off to a great start with a short welcome and presentation on the Trust and the history of the village. This was followed by a presentation about the Guild by the Master, Clive Wilmer.

Inside Westmill Village Hall.

Lunch was served in a marquee in a nearby area of the village owned by the Greg Trust, and dedicated as a Children’s Playground. This was followed by a short presentation back at the Hall on Companion Charles Spooner, an Arts & Crafts architect who was friends with the Gregs and lived in the village. The speaker was Alec Hamilton, Spooner’s biographer, who then led a short walking tour of the village which included an impromptu visit to Dial House whose staircase is one of the notable architectural features of the village. The tour ended in St Mary Church, the Gregs’ and Spooners’ final resting place, where the churchwardens had mounted a small exhibition.

Thank you to everyone who joined us and for helping to make it an enjoyable and memorable occasion.

Many thanks to John Iles for all the Westmill pics.

Hundreds of people of all ages enjoyed the sunshine and getting hands-on with the diverse range of drawing and craft activities offered by the Big Draw at Walkley on 1 July. This was the first of this year’s events in the RUSKIN in SHEFFIELD programme organised by the inimitable Ruth Nutter.

The day was an opportunity to observe, draw and make in a wide choice of media, from paper-and-pencil drawing to clay modelling, comic-strip illustrating to painting, and a special walk through the Rivelin Valley. It saw the community come together in large numbers, and many took the chance to learn about Ruskin and his ideas, and the legacy to Sheffield.

As ever, all of this was only made possible by the enthusiasm and dedication of Companions and other volunteers, including artists and creative assistants, and of course the participation of a large number of visitors.

The day has already featured in the Sheffield Star (see here).

Please click on the small selection of images below to enlarge (more will be uploaded to the site in the coming days). Photos courtesy of Ruth Nutter.


Companion Dr Cynthia Gamble is giving an illustrated talk as part of the celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the rebuilding in 1867 of the church of St Michael and St Mary Magdalene, in Easthampstead, Berkshire, overseen by the Revd Osborne Gordon, and its re-consecration by Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford.

The delightful Sunday afternoon programme includes:
3-4pm: talk by Cynthia Gamble, ‘Ruskin’s Oxford Tutor: O. G.’
4-5pm: tea and cakes, and a stroll in the churchyard to visit the beautiful tomb of the Revd Osborne Gordon, Rector of the church from 1860 until 1883.
5-6pm: Evensong.

There is no charge, but donations are always most welcome for the church repairs, especially for the tower.


Please continue to visit the Guild’s website. Recent changes include a less cluttered menu on the left-hand side of the screen (with no loss of content), and the incorporation of the list of forthcoming events at the bottom of the home page (welcome screen). The site is updated at least once a week, with social media content refreshed daily. As always we welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Neil Sinden and Lynne Roberts, who have done so much to build on the work of John and Linda Iles at Ruskin Land, are leaving St George’s Farm for London later this month. We are immensely grateful to them for their huge contribution over the past couple of years, notably in working in the Wyre Forest with deprived schoolchildren and other marginalised groups, and in welcoming so many Companions and other guests to stay with them at the farm. They have considerably improved the farmhouse itself, and have also researched previously unfamiliar aspects of the history of the surrounding area and its settlers. Whilst their presence will be missed in Worcestershire, they will continue to work with us as the dedicated Companions they have always been, and we hope there will be many fruitful collaborations ahead.

(Click or tap for Neil's blog, News from Ruskin Land.)

If you are interested in St George’s Farm, and might like to be considered for the tenancy, please write to Directors John Iles on or Jenny Robbins on to enquire.

With thanks and best wishes,

Guild of St George.

Read past Guild E-Newsletters here.

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