A series of four, free monthly readings online, subsequently available here as video recordings.
The remaining session is being held online, via zoom, at 6pm (UK time) on Friday 10th March 2023. No pre-booking required; you can find the zoom link for the session below. The zoom room will be opened at 5.45 for a prompt 6pm start, and sessions last between 1-1.5 hrs.
ZOOM LINK FOR THE MARCH SESSION IS HERE
A series of four monthly online readings between December 2022 and March 2023, embracing the following themes:
- Architecture, carving and sculpture
- Mixed media, including ceramics, plasterwork & silversmithing
- Ruskin's travels & craftsmanship
An introduction by Peter Burman:
John Ruskin is more a man read about than read, except in somewhat specialist literary circles. He attracts attention through the perceived fascination of his life and the tentacles which emanate from his pervasive influence on the arts and crafts, architecture and heritage which include his influence on the founding of the National Trust, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, the Art Workers’ Guild, the Society of Designer Craftsmen and the Guild of St George.
While Ruskin influenced the formation and roles of the first four of those organisations, the Guild of St George was his very own creation. The Guild is dedicated to ensuring that Ruskin’s teachings, his vision and his determination ‘to make lives better’, are never dimmed. So, we have a special duty to ensure that he is read, and read constantly, in a spirit of fellowship, discovery and deepening understanding.
In the winter of 2021-2022, the Guild presented a series of four Ruskin Readings that focused on Venice. This winter, December to March, we are presenting a series of readings on the theme of Ruskin and the Crafts. It is a timely theme to focus on, in our increasingly automated, digitised and here-today-gone-tomorrow world.
My heart is warmed by drinking out of the beautiful coffee mugs we bought this summer by potter John Leach, at the Muchelney Pottery, on the Somerset ‘Levels’. Their timelessness and their roughness to the touch speak to us of the coordination between human hand, head and heart, and of an ever-recurring beauty of form and material.
There will be an inter-weaving of many voices, several to a session, of men and women, Companions and potential Companions, including some for whom English is not their mother tongue. Our readings from Ruskin will be illuminated by spontaneous discussion.
For Ruskin, we could say that everything began in his childhood with his consuming passion for geology and the collecting of minerals. He loved their surfaces, their quirkiness and their sparkle. And he came to see not only the extreme importance of the craftsman’s skills and tools but also the materials that the craftsman was handling, and that through the skills the materials become transformed into something which gives us all pleasure and delight.
William Morris understood that process at a deep level and that is why we shall begin the first session by recalling his words in the introduction to his Kelmscott edition of The Nature of Gothic: ‘the lesson which Ruskin teaches us is that art is the expression of man’s pleasure in labour … and lastly, that unless man’s work once again becomes a pleasure to him, the token of which change will be that beauty is once again a natural and necessary accompaniment of productive labour, all but the worthless must toil in vain.’
Reading IV, 10 March 2023
Theme: Ruskin's Travels, and what they reveal of his deep and passionate interest in the skills of craftspeople, their materials and their methods, ending in Venice.
- Convened by Peter Burman, with Ross Burgess, Déirdre Kelly and Marcus Waithe.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO READ THE TEXT FOR THE EVENING, IT WILL BE POSTED HERE BEFORE THE EVENT BEGINS.
EVENTS THAT HAVE TAKEN PLACE:
Reading I, 9 December 2022
Theme: architecture, carving and sculpture
- Rory Young, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, artificer, sculptor, letter-cutter
- Andreas Ammon, Dresden, Germany, trained as stonemason, later as architect
- Nic Boyes, Edinburgh, Scotland, stone and lime specialist, conservator of sculpture
- James Howley, Dublin, Ireland, architect
- Peter Burman, convenor and reader, Falkland, Scotland, architectural historian
WATCH A RECORDING OF THE FIRST SESSION HERE.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO READ THE TEXTS THAT WERE SPOKEN, YOU CAN FIND THEM HERE.
Reading II, 13 January 2023
- Rachel Dickinson, Manchester Metropolitan University Manchester and Master of the Guild of St George
- Tess Darwin, Falkland, Scotland, embroiderer
- Arjun Jain, The Red House Cultural Centre, Delhi, India
- Laurence Roussillon-Constanty, convenor and reader, France
WATCH A RECORDING OF THE SECOND SESSION HERE.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO READ THE TEXTS READ IN THIS SESSION, PLEASE SEE HERE.
Reading III, 17 February 2023
Theme: a mixture of media including ceramics, plasterwork & silversmithing
- Daahir Mohamed, Bristol-based plasterer, SPAB William Morris Craft Fellow
- Hal Messel, silversmith
- Tracey Sheppard, former Master of the Art Workers' Guild, glass engraver
- Nicholas Mander, convenor and reader, author & owner of Owlpen Estate, Gloucestershire
FULL TEXT OF THE READING HERE
WATCH A RECORDING OF THE THIRD SESSION HERE.