You may have read that John Ruskin was born 200 years ago this week. Ruskin was educated in Camberwell and moved opposite to what is now Ruskin Park in 1843. There are also local schools and streets named after the great man – and we have a very special connection to him here at St Giles’ too…
As well as being the most influential art critic of the Victorian era (Ruskin almost singlehandedly turned around the legacy of the artist J. M. W. Turner) he was a draughtsman, art patron and water-colourist. He was a prolific writer and wrote on subjects such as geology, ornithology, education, botany, myths, architecture and political economy. He even found time to write travel guides.
Ruskin was appalled about the way the industrial revolution was dehumanising workers and was concerned about the effect industrialisation was having on the environment. Using lectures and magazine articles, he encouraged workers to improve their lives through self-education. He believed that everyone was capable of developing their own creativity and founded a drawing school in Oxford, now known as The Ruskin School of Art.
It’s appropriate that Camberwell is now home to UAL: Camberwell College of Arts and that Camberwell Arts Festival has been flourishing since 1994. And at St Giles’, our beautiful stained glass East window was designed by John Ruskin in 1844 and continues to be enjoyed to this day.