Current Exhibitions

Ruskin’s Manchester: ‘Devil’s Darkness’ to Beacon City
24 June – 23 August 2019, Main Gallery

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, Principal Lecturer (Interdisciplinary Studies/English) at Manchester Metropolitan University and 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