The Tory Ruskin
After 6 weeks of listening to politicians, witnessing their staged and choreographed gesturing, hearing their rehearsed statements over and over I'm now tired and ready for a long sleep - preferably 5 years. Personally I am sad that the English voted for another Tory Government, it seems to go against a growing societal belief that we are bothered about income gaps, inequality and unfairness. So how did the Tories persuade so many voters that they too were a party that had the best interests of all in mind, including those who need and depend on support? It's clever. Offering an extra 8 billion pound to the NHS in the final stages of the election campaign may have done it - even though no one quite knows where that money is coming from. Some former Blairites now argue that the Labour party was too left wing? But that doesn't make sense considering it was the more left wing SNP in Scotland that wiped out all but one Labour seat.
Too many people are not persuaded by evidence that inequality has so many unjust consequences that affect everyone, not just those without wealth but everybody, including those who are better off in our society.
Worth reading I think is this article outlining the basic principles of a basic income for all - an idea that has been around since the 1970s but that has some renewed interest in the Netherlands, also amongst a business community. http://basisinkomen.nl/wp/wp-content/uploads/image/CLUESLEADS.pdf
As I'm getting more familiar with the work and life of John Ruskin it is perhaps strange that he was known to be a staunch Tory. His father was a wealthy businessman who worked hard and made his fortune importing sherry which meant that his son was able to enjoy privileges that many other sons of fathers who worked equally hard could not enjoy. But Ruskin did care about this unfairness, and what he published about these beliefs ultimately lead to a more socially and morally just society. With the gap between the better and worse off growing year on year, this trend has been in reverse for quite some time and it will not change in the next 5 years. If I have to dig up some hope from somewhere - perhaps those better off will start to think more like Ruskin?
In a public address in the town of Bradford he once declared to his audience:
"continue to make that forbidden deity (money) your principal one and soon no more art, no more science, no more pleasure will be possible. Catastrophe will come; or, worse than catastrophe, slow mouldering and withering into Hades ..." (Traffic - pubished in The Crown of Wild Olive)
Such threats may not quite work today. Ruskin had the benefit of speaking to a God-fearing crowd that saw in him a modern day Prophet.
Over the last month or so I have been working on the first linear works looking at the gestures made by those in power. The line of small (approx. 30 x 40 cm) works on oak have a black & white patterns behind suited headless figures wearing white gloves. I brought in some of the many insects drawn by Edward Donovan that I found in the archive of the Ruskin collection at Museums Sheffield. These gorgeous creatures are of course much better illustrated by Donovan in his originals, but I did attempt to copy as best as I could. I also started to bring in the gold leaf and,in my mind, like the background pattern, it adds another dimension to these works. This month I hope to have completed 8 panels.