Upcoming event

Monday, 24 June 2019

– Friday, 23 August 2019

10:00-16:00

'Ruskin's Manchester: "Devil's Darkness" to Beacon City'

Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections

Date: Monday 24 June – Friday 23 August 2019

Time: Monday - Friday 10.00 - 16.00

Location: Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections

Tickets: Free - Just turn up!


This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Ruskin (1819-1900), the prominent and influential Victorian writer, art critic, artist and social thinker. Ruskin gave some of his most important lectures in Manchester and was enthusiastically received by Mancunians who formed the first Ruskin Society and the first exhibition dedicated to him in 1904. This exhibition celebrates Ruskin’s relationship with Manchester and the city’s response to him.

Ruskin spoke out against the social, political and environmental injustices of his day. He criticised the worst aspects of industrialisation which caused pollution to flow from the city’s factories, leading him to describe the smog that settled over Manchester as the ‘Devil’s Darkness’. He promoted access to museums and art
education for the working classes.

During his lecture ‘The Unity of Art’, at the Manchester School of Art, he spoke about education, manufacture, craft and art, declaring that:

"FINE ART is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together"

This lecture is at the heart of this exhibition, which uses architecture, books, drawings, paintings, studio pottery and textiles to introduce Ruskin and demonstrate his importance and influence on art, craft and design education.

The exhibition has been curated by Dr Rachel Dickinson an English lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University and the Director of Education at Ruskin’s Guild of St. George, with contributions from other partners.

It is part of the Ruskin in Manchester Festival and global Ruskin 200 Celebrations. For more information visit www.ruskin200.com 

The exhibition has been curated by Dr Rachel Dickinson, Principal Lecturer in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University and Director of Education of Ruskin’s Guild of St. George. Rachel is Principal Lecturer in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, where she has taught across the English curriculum from medieval through to twenty-first century literature. Her approach to the gothic is through Ruskinian Gothic as theorised by Victorian polymath John Ruskin. His gothic is multidisciplinary, and so is her research, which includes architecture, art, dress, education, life-writing, sustainability and textiles, all framed through Ruskinian Gothic. She is the author of John Ruskin’s Correspondence with Joan Severn (Legenda/Routledge) and serves on editorial boards, including the Journal of Victorian Culture (OUP). Passionate about engagement, she is Director of Education for Ruskin’s Guild of St George, regularly gives public lectures and talks on Ruskin, was named a judge of the John Ruskin Prize for Art 2017 and 2019, and is co-ordinator of the Festival of Ruskin in Manchester 2019. 

Manchester Metropolitan University is committed to disability equality. If you have any access requirements, please let us know via 0161 247 6740 or email us at lucy.simpson@mmu.ac.uk before you arrive to help us to make sure that your visit to the event is as enjoyable as possible.

Event contact Rachel Dickinson · r.dickinson@mmu.ac.uk

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