About The John Ruskin Prize


The John Ruskin Prize 2017 Shortlist has been announced!

"Victorian artist, critic, writer and social reformer John Ruskin had a saying: ‘the greatest thing a human being ever does in this world is to see something… To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion all in one’. The  John Ruskin Prize asks exactly this of its entrants; to see and to absorb a theme". 

Daniel Dylan Wray on ‘Recording Britain Now: The 2nd John Ruskin Prize, Creative Tourist, 11 August 2014

About the prize

In 2012, The Guild of St. George, the charity founded by John Ruskin in 1871 renewed its links with The Big Draw (Formerly The Campaign for Drawing - The Campaign was launched in 2000 under the Guild’s auspices, becoming an independent arts education charity in 2006) to inaugurate The John Ruskin Prize open to all artists over 18 working in the UK. It aims to uphold Ruskin’s belief that drawing helps us see the world more clearly and be more aware of its fragility. The Prize allows us to promote and give exposure to the work of emerging artists using a wide range of media and techniques. The winning artists are awarded cash prizes (in 2015 was increased along with the introduction of 2nd and student cash prizes) to help further their practice and all shortlisted artists are offered a place in an exhibition at a high profile public gallery or museum. 

The 3rd John Ruskin Prize Shortlist Exhibition: Recording Britain Now:Society, The New Art Gallery Walsall, 25 February - 17 April 2016

Since its inception in 2012, The John Ruskin Prize has provided artists with a challenging theme to respond to. The prize, as a result, encourages entrants to reassess their practice and consider the world around them with more scrutiny. This thematic approach encourages entrants who work with fluidity across approaches, materials and disciplines. Often attracting 2nd career artists or makers with previous lives as scientists, architects,journalists, and even dentists.

A famous polymath himself, Ruskin’s expertise spanned many disciplines. His dedication was to nature, society and the world at large and art was a vehicle for change within it. 

Now in its 4th year, The John Ruskin Prize is establishing itself as a showcase for emerging talent and established artists from all reaches of the UK.

The 1st John Ruskin Prize exhibition, A New Look at Nature, was successfully shown in Brantwood, Ruskin’s former Lake District home, Carol Wyss was selected by the panel as the inaugural winner of the prize.   The 2nd, Recording Britain Now, was shown in Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery for five months accompanying the V&A tour of Recording Britain. In November it had a second showing at London’s Trinity Buoy Wharf.  Read interviews with John Ruskin Prize 2014 winner, Maggie Hargreaves and runner up, Mandy Payne in The Companion Magazine published by the Guild of St George.  The 3rd John Ruskin Prize and exhibition was dedicated to the theme of contemporary society with Laura Oldfield Ford being awarded the 1st Prize, a new 2nd prize was awared to Jessie Brennan and for the first year, the new Student Prize to Robin Sukatorn.


the prizes

With the generous support of our sponsors and supporters, to date, we have awarded a total of £10000 in cash prizes to 5 winning artists.  The prizes have provided valuable financial support in a testing economic time for artists. The prizes have enabled the initiation of new projects and ensured valuable studio time for the winners.  

Alongside the cash awards for artists, The John Ruskin Prize provides sales opportunities, and increased exposure through high profile exhibitions and associated press and promotion for all prize finalists.

For more information on the benefits of sponsoring The John Ruskin Prize please contact  Rachel Price, Prize Project Manager.


16 May 2017 - The John Ruskin Prize 2017 shortlist announced -read.

26 April 2016 - Exhibition ‘Recording Britain Now: Society’  opens in London’s Docklands - read.

9 February 2016 - The John Ruskin Prize 2015/16: Preview and Prize-giving - read.

14 December 2015 - The John Ruskin Prize 2015 - Shortlist Announced - read.

10 November 2015 - UK Artists are Recording Britain Now for National Art Prize - read.

30 June 2015 - The John Ruskin Prize 2015: Call for Artists - read.

 prize archive:

2015/16 - The 3rd John Ruskin Prize | Recording Britain Now: Society

The 2015/16 Prize encouraged artists to respond to the theme Recording Britain Now: Society, by focussing on contemporary social issues. Rather as 77 years ago the original Recording Britain mapped familiar townscapes and countryside under threat, this was an invitation to engage with a society in rapid transition. The Prize offered today's artists the opportunity to measure themselves against earlier commentators on the state of the nation. Thirty shortlisted artists were exhibited at The New Art Gallery Walsall between 25 February - 17 Aril, followed by a second showing at The Electrician's Shop gallery at Trinity Buoy Wharf from 5 - 22 May.

The artists selected for the exhibition present diverse perspectives on this year’s theme, with sensitive and sometimes unconventional insights into life in Britain today – from the evidence of poverty and homelessness on our streets to sites of urban regeneration cheek by jowl with dereliction and decay. But the sombre views are complemented by scenes which capture the energy, colour and conviviality that also characterise contemporary British society”.

Gill Saunders, Senior Curator of Prints, V&A and 3rd prize panellist.

2014/15 - The 2nd John Ruskin Prize | Recording Britain Now

In 2014, artists across the UK were invited to submit ‘fresh, contemporary visions of the UK's urban, rural or social environment' for The 2nd John Ruskin Prize: Recording Britain Now.

The selection panel considered 600 entries before agreeing on the final 23, which offered an engaging mix of materials, techniques and topical commentary, exploring urban sprawl, dereliction and the endangered British countryside.

The 2nd John Ruskin exhibition was shown in Sheffield's Millenium Gallery for five months accompanying the V&A tour of 'Recording Britain'. In November 2014 it had a second showing at London's Trinity Buoy Wharf, now the home of The Big Draw. The winner was announced at the private view: Former scientist and recent art graduate, Maggie Hargreaves, was awarded the £1,000 prize for two huge drawings revealing nature’s revenge on man’s despoliation of the countryside. Runner-up Mandy Payne’s evocative reliefs of Sheffield’s once notorious Park Hill Estate were created by spray painting concrete slabs inspired by the estate’s current redevelopment.

See the 2nd Prize Archive HERE

Winning Piece purchased by Millenium Dome Architect: Read Piece HERE

The 2nd John Ruskin Prize Shortlist Exhibition: Recording Britain Now, The Millenium Gallery, Sheffield, June - Oct 2014

The 3rd John Ruskin Prize Shortlist Exhibition: Recording Britain Now:Society, The New Art Gallery Walsall, 25 February - 17 April 2016

john Ruskin Prize Winners to date:

The 3rd John Ruskin Prize | Recording Britain Now: Society

Laura Oldfield Ford (1st prize 2015 - £5000), Jessie Brennan (2nd Prize 2015 - £2000), Robin Sukatorn (Student Prize 2015 - £1000).

The 2nd John Ruskin Prize | Recording Britain Now

Maggie Hargreaves (1st Prize 2014 - £1000), Mandy Payne (Runner up, purchase prize: The John Ruskin Collection  2014)

The 1st John Ruskin Prize | A New Look at Nature

Carol Wyss (1st Prize 2012 - £1000).

artist interviews

Peter Haugh (3rd Prize Finalist)

Robin Sukatorn (3rd Prize Student Winner)

Mandy Payne (2nd Prize Runner Up)

 Current and past sponsors and supporters:

The Guild of St George (prize founder), The Pilgrim Trust (2015), 'Good Old Drawing'(2014 / 2015), The New Art Gallery Walsall (2015), The Millenium Gallery, Sheffield (2014), Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust (2014 / 2015).

More information here: www.thebigdraw.org/ruskinprize and The John Ruskin Prize 2015 catalogue can be viewed online here.

If you are interested in sponsoring a prize or supporting the exhibition please contact: Rachel Price, Ruskin Prize Project Manager.