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Ruskin's Good Looking!


This project tests ideas of John Ruskin (1819 -1900) the nineteenth century art critic, philanthropist and social thinker by applying Ruskin;'s ideas on drawing to his own belongings. Ruskin's The Elements of Drawing (1857) remains a touchstone for drawing research and is often cited for its core tenet that drawing sharpens visual attention. The project was developed in collaboration with The Brantwood Trust and Toronto-based Dress Detective,  Dr Ingrid Mida.


This project put this premise to the test, using it to uncover material ‘clues’ of Ruskin’s life embedded in christening clothes, dress suit, his signature necktie and hat which remain at Brantwood, Ruskin's house for the latter part of his life. It is the first time that these garments have been visually examined through drawing. In response to studying these garments at Brantwood, a series of new large-scale drawings were produced and exhibited at Brantwood to mark the start of the Ruskin Bicentenary celebrations in 2019.

Through Sarah Casey's close observation through drawing drawing and Ingrid Mida's experience as a dress detective  new features of the garments came to light, including a tailor's label inside the tail coat, ascribing the garment firmly to Ruskin.

The exhibition and supporting catalogue provide new evidence for the value of drawing as a research method, contributing to a growing debate within studies of material culture. The exhibition catalogue includes images of the drawings from the exhibition, information about the research project and new essays by Anuradha Chatterjee and Ingrid Mida.

You can see the finished drawings here>>

Read more about the project  findings in a  journal article co-authored with Ingrid Mida for Costume (2020) here>>

Blog post about the project for The Ruskin here>>

Interview about the project with Dress Detective Ingrid Mida is also available on the British Council blog here>>

Review of presentation of the project at the Costume Society reading group here>>

Waistcoat front and back
waistcoat detail
neck tie
at work
Ruskin's Good Looking (Shift)
Ruskins good looking cap
Ruskins good looking (gown)
Ruskins Good Looking (marked)
ruskins good looking (nests)
Ruskins good looking (fold) compressed
Christening gown detail
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