Project Oak Tree (Working Title)
In October 2014 Henk Littlewood (pictured) and I traveled to Ruskinland near Bewdley to choose an Oak Tree that we intend to uproot and transport to Sheffield where, once it has dried out, we will create a shelter like structure from it that will be decorated inside with vibrant imagary and patterns. The exhibit will be displayed at Museums Sheffield's Millennium Gallery as part of their third Ruskin themed exhibition that has a focus on Craftmanship. The exhibition opens in February 2016.
Apart from visiting Ruskinland, we also visited the Ruskin Gallery where Louise Pullen, curator of the Ruskin collection took us down into to storage space where most of the collection is housed. Ruskin was an eclectic collector, not just of artworks but also of minerals and fossils and everything the earth would throw up, discharge, deposit. There are chests with layers and layers of drawers filled with fragile, shiny, weird and sometimes radio-active finds. I handled a small piece of a meteorite and was surprised by the sheer weight of this shiny metallic object.
Over the next coming months I will spend more time in the museum and in the storage area to try and find out why Ruskin chose these particular art and objects for his museum. He was a fascinating, obsessive, eclectic collector as well as an artist, social thinker and educator, philantropist and art critic. In particular of course, I will focus on his fascination with craft skills and his views of what craft is or should be and achieve.