01/07/19 PRESS RELEASE: Following the footsteps of Ruskin and Turner
Following the footsteps of Ruskin and Turner
Emma Stibbon highlights dramatic retreat of Alpine glaciers
Artist Emma Stibbon’s large monochrome drawings and cyanotype photographs reveal the effects of a warming climate in The Alps.
The Royal Academician reflects the impact of climate change on Alpine landscapes through powerful new work.
Visitors can immerse themselves in Stibbon’s stunning drawings created as she followed in the footsteps of two of Britain’s most iconic artists.
Her work forms part of Abbot Hall Art Gallery’s biggest ever exhibition: Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud which opens on 12 July and runs until 5 October 2019.
It will include more than 135 works, stretch across six galleries and takes place during the 200th anniversary of John Ruskin’s birth (8 February 1819).
Abbot Hall (in Kendal, Cumbria) and York Art Gallery commissioned contemporary artist Stibbon to retrace the Alpine steps of Ruskin and Turner to see for herself how the glaciers have been impacted by climate change.
She went to the Alps in June last year - exactly 160-years after Ruskin journeyed there to create his daguerreotypes (a photograph made by an early photographic process) of the Mer de Glace.
Stibbon found the exact spot adopted by Ruskin and created a series of cyanotypes - another early photographic process. The resulting images show glaciers in retreat. Where once was a sea of ice, is now a dark valley.
Stibbon said: “I’ve always been inspired by Turner’s incredible Alpine sketchbooks. His extraordinary images blew apart our understanding of how to represent landscape. Ruskin also had a lifelong pre-occupation with the Alps.
“I went to Chamonix where both artists studied glaciers. I revisited locations that particularly Ruskin represented in a series of early daguerreotype photographs - such as the 1854 daguerreotype of the iconic Mer de Glace.
“I found the exact viewpoint and made my own cyanotype image of that scene. The shocking thing is that this location today is almost unrecognisable.
“The glacier has retreated by at least two kilometres since Ruskin’s photograph.
“If global warming continues at the expected rate, Alpine glaciers below 3500 metres will disappear before the turn of the next century.”
Visitors to the exhibition can see Stibbon’s photograph of the Mer de Glace alongside the image taken by Ruskin in 1854 and see the impact of climate change for themselves.
The two images are available for media use in the press pack: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/j8phfcxns32h47l/AADRX6RVMI8zzkrHYq7AJiNga?dl=0)
Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud examines Ruskin’s relationship with Turner’s work and the impact Ruskin had in highlighting climate change.
Works from both Abbot Hall and York Art Gallery go on show alongside substantial loans from national and regional collections. This exhibition was first shown at York Art Gallery from March to June and was a massive draw for visitors.
Emma Stibbon added: “I’m honoured to be part of this exhibition, particularly as it is in Cumbria during the 200th anniversary of Ruskin’s birth. “I think Ruskin would approve of my commitment to witnessing the impact of climate change. His drawings have a moral imperative that asks the viewer to consider our relationship with the environment.”
Helen Watson, Lakeland Arts’ Director of Programming, said: “Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud will be one of our biggest ever shows. This is a must-see exhibition.
“This year is hugely significant in celebrating Ruskin and we are delighted to have this landmark exhibition at Abbot Hall during the 200th anniversary of his birth. It’s particularly apt that the exhibition takes place in Cumbria - the home of Ruskin and the place he found most inspiration.”
John Ruskin (1819-1900) was the leading English art historian of the Victorian era, as well as an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, prominent social thinker and philanthropist. Born in London, he moved to Cumbria and its dramatic landscape became one of his biggest inspirations.
JMW Turner (1775-1881) was a landscape painter, traveller, poet and teacher. Many people consider him the first modern painter. Ruskin said of Turner he was ‘the greatest of the age’.
The exhibition features watercolours, drawings and a portrait of Ruskin from the National Portrait Gallery, made in the aftermath of his first serious mental illness.
In 1884 Ruskin wrote about an encroaching “Storm Cloud” - a darkening of the skies that he attributed to the belching chimneys of the modern world. The imagery also allowed him to articulate his ongoing mental struggles.
Ruskin’s anxiety about darkening skies and polluted storm clouds is contrasted with his early interest in Turner’s luminous pictures.
The exhibition contains a substantial display of Turner’s watercolours, demonstrating his evolving style, and his creation of highly-finished sample studies of British and alpine landscapes. Abbot Hall’s The Passage of Mount St Gothard (1804) by Turner will be a key painting on show.
Cultural organisations in Cumbria including Ruskin Museum and Brantwood in Coniston will also be marking the anniversary of Ruskin’s birth with a series of exhibitions and events in 2019, making the county the place to visit for everything Ruskin related.
The Ruskin Museum holds the most comprehensive display in the Lake District about the life and work of John Ruskin. Brantwood is Ruskin’s former home where he spent the last 28 years of his life.
The exhibition has an accompanying publication, bringing together a collection of new essays by artists, climate change specialists, art historians and curators.
More details of Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud: https://www.abbothall.org.uk/exhibitions/Ruskin-Turner
Notes to editors:
For further information contact Dickie Felton email@example.com
Lakeland Arts has a portfolio of galleries and museums in the Lake District. It’s venues are Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry, Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House. A new museum: Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories opened in March 2019.
Abbot Hall Art Gallery:
Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal opened in 1962. It has built up an outstanding collection and a strong reputation for showing exhibitions of national and international artists of the highest quality. In 2018 it showed work ranging from Claude Monet and Auguste Rodin to contemporary artists Elisabeth Frink and Alison Watt. The gallery and surrounding estate will undergo a major redevelopment planned to start in 2020.
Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry:
Abbot Hall also houses the Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry in the former coach house and stables. The Museum opened in 1971. Immerse yourself in Lake District history, discover the region’s past in farming, mining and tanning. Find out about Swallows and Amazons author Arthur Ransome and stroll down a Victorian Street. The Museum also has a regular programme of exhibitions.
Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House:
Blackwell is situated in Bowness-on-Windermere and is architect MH Baillie Scott's greatest house. Built as a Lake District rural holiday retreat for the Manchester brewery owner, Sir Edward Holt, today it is an outstanding example of an Arts & Crafts House. Retaining most of its original decorative features. It is a perfect setting for exhibitions of historical and contemporary craft.
Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories:
Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories opened on 23 March 2019. Designed by Carmody Groarke architects, this is a new world-class museum in a stunning setting on Windermere displaying an internationally important collection of boats which are all associated with Windermere. The National Lottery Heritage Fund is the major funder for the Museum. Grants are made possible by National Lottery players. The project is also supported by Regional Growth Fund and Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.
York Art Gallery:
York Art Gallery, founded in 1892, is home to a rich collection of art spanning over 600 years, from the fourteenth century to the present day. Highlights include early religious Italian panels, seventeenth-century Dutch masterpieces, Victorian narrative paintings, and twentieth-century works by artists such as LS Lowry and David Hockney, as well as the largest collection of work by York-born artist William Etty RA and a large collection of works on paper. The Gallery also holds the most extensive and representative collection of studio ceramics, showcased in the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA). Following a major £8 million redevelopment project which created sixty percent more display space and new gardens, the Gallery reopened in 2015 and now runs a dynamic programme of temporary exhibitions of both contemporary and historic art. www.yorkartgallery.org.uk
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- Emma Stibbon_ Aiguilles, 1520 x 214cms, Indian ink, ground oyster shell on paper 2018 © Emma Stibbon courtesy of Alan Cristea Gallery