Event – Working Towards a Sustainable World: Inspired by Ruskin – Manchester, 25th June

Working Towards a Sustainable World: Inspired by Ruskin

The event will take place between 10am and 4pm. Tickets are £5 and available at: https://sustainable-world-ruskin.eventbrite.com Here you will also be able to see the full programme for the event.

This full-day roundtable features speakers who are making a difference.  They will share their stories of working to make a better, more sustainable society, with the Victorian thinker John Ruskin as a source of inspiration. Ruskin looked to the medieval past to find models for a better future.  He had a real impact on British – and global – culture in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.  He inspired the Arts and Crafts pioneers Morris & Co  and the establishment of the National Trust; the early Labour Party named him a major influence; Gandhi changed his life after reading Unto This Last. He was an early proponent of environmental awareness and ethical consumerism.

The speakers represent six subject areas taught at Manchester Metropolitan University:

  • Health, Psychology & Social Care: Julie McCarthy, Cultural Producer at 42nd Street, a local young people’s mental health charity.
  • Education: Aonghus Gordon, founder of Ruskin Mill Trust, offering personalised programmes to people with complex learning and behavioral difficulties & Ronan Brindley, Head of Learning and Engagement at Manchester Art Gallery.
  • Art & Design: Olivier Geoffroy, founder of Unto This Last, a furniture workshop in London fusing digitally-controlled cutting tools with Ruskinian craftsmanship & Robin Sukatorn, winner of the John Ruskin Prize (student category 2015) and a MFA student at the Manchester School or Art.
  • Food, Tourism & Events: John Iles and Jenny Robbins, Directors of the Wyre Community Land Trust; John won a Future Farming award for ‘putting the farm back at the heart of the community’.
  • Business: Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive of ShareAction, the movement for responsible investment, was recognised by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2014.
  • Sustainability: Caroline Ikin & Dominika Wielgopolan have both been awarded PhD studentships from Manchester Metropolitan University to do doctoral work on Ruskin in relation to landscape & gardening and gardening & communities.

Convened by Dr Rachel Dickinson (Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Cheshire Faculty, Manchester Metropolitan University)

Co-sponsored by the Guild of St George, the charity for arts, crafts and the rural economy founded by Ruskin in the 1870s.

Talks include:

Catherine Howarth (ShareAction)

Catherine will speak about how Ruskin’s ideas on political economy and personal responsibility in business are relevant in the 21st Century, and how they have influenced the work of ShareAction.

Robin Sukatorn (Winner John Ruskin Prize [Student] 2015 and student at Man Met’s Manchester School of Art)

Robin will be presenting a selection of his drawings recording scenes from contemporary society in the North, including his illustration Jeremy Corbin speaks in Manchester which this year won in the Student category for the John Ruskin prize, as well as discussing the links between his practice and the ideas of Ruskin.

Dominika Wielgopolan (starting a PhD on Ruskin at Man Met’s Cheshire Faculty)

Dominika will speak about her PhD on Ruskin’s environmental thought and its implementation, as well as its possible relevance today and future application. Interested in Ruskin’s writings on nature and sustainability, she aims to adapt Ruskin’s ecological solutions for the needs of small communities, both rural and urban.

Caroline Ikin (starting a PhD on Ruskin at Man Met’s Cheshire Faculty)

By studying Ruskin’s approach to the designed landscape, Caroline intends to explore Ruskin’s contribution to garden theory: was his garden-making a continuation of the Picturesque ideals of the eighteenth century, or was he was responding to the Victorian desire to assert man’s dominance over nature?  Was his approach that of an artist, naturalist, agriculturalist, environmentalist, taste-maker or gardener?

Julie McCarthy (42nd Street) and Ronan Brindley (Manchester Art Gallery)

Julie and Ronan will talk about Ruskin as a source of inspiration in Manchester as they speak from their experiences working for 42nd Street (a mental health charity housed in the Ancoats Art Museum established by Thomas Horsfall, who was inspired by Ruskin) and the Manchester Art Gallery.

Aonghus Gordon (Ruskin Mill Trust)

Aonghus will talk about how he has applied Ruskin’s social aesthetic in the Ruskin Mill Trust.

Olivier Geoffroy (Unto This Last)

Olivier will discuss his Ruskinian contemporary furniture business, speaking from his perspective as designer, craftsman and business owner.

John Iles and Jenny Robbins (Ruskin Land and Wyre Community Land Trust)

John and Jenny will draw on experiences over the last decade at Uncllys Farm in the heart of the Wyre Forest on Ruskin Land. John will focus on how he has sought to weave some of the threads of Ruskin’s thinking together in a rural setting.  Adopting Ruskin’s stated aim of ‘making some small piece of English ground beautiful, peaceful and fruitful’, he will show how with many partners – notably  including Jenny – positive change has been brought about over the years.

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