The Ruskin Prize

The John Ruskin Prize is a multidisciplinary art prize open to all artists, designers and makers, of all nationalities, aged 18 and over.

For The 6th John Ruskin Prize, there are a few new additions. For the first time you can submit from anywhere in the world. The prize is now open to digital submissions to facilitate international entries. There are also two new prizes - The International Prize and The 2024 Kate Mason Prize for Innovation.


Organised by The Big Draw, charity no. 1114811

The John Ruskin Prize is the fastest growing multi-disciplinary art prize in the UK. With the values of the radical polymath John Ruskin at it's core, the #RuskinPrize has a growing reputation for supporting and promoting artists, designers and makers whose work defies easy categorisation.

The John Ruskin Prize was inaugurated in 2012 by The Guild of St. George and visual literacy charity The Big Draw (formerly The Campaign for Drawing). Organised and delivered by The Big Draw, The Prize aims to uphold John Ruskin’s beliefs: An impassioned critic, not only of art but of society and life. He believed that art has the power to expose universal truths, and that a good artist should do just that. Ruskin was a writer, artist, social critic, polymath and aesthete. The prize also embraces Ruskin’s polymathic sensibilities, and in 2017 expanded the remit of the prize welcoming entries from artists, designers and makers focusing on the strengths of interdisciplinary practice through the 2017 theme: Hand & Eye: Master of All Trades.

‘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’. - John Ruskin

Read our interview with Clive Wilmer, Former Master of The Guild of St George here.


The 5th John Ruskin Prize

Highlights from the launch and prize giving of The 5th John Ruskin Prize: Agent of Change held on 11 July 2019, The Holden Gallery, Manchester. Exhibition continues until 24 August 2019 more information here.

The John Ruskin Prize 2019 Winners announced: PRESS RELEASE 15.07.2019


Selected from a record number of entries, prize organisers visual literacy charity The Big Draw joined with the prize’s founder and core supporter The Guild of St George (the education charity set up by Ruskin) announce the shortlist for The John Ruskin Prize 2019.

With an overwhelming response to the 2019 theme: Agent of Change, 41 artists and designers, working across a broad range of disciplines, were selected from over 1260 entries for The John Ruskin Prize 2019. The selection panel considered over 3000 artworks, and after an difficult multi-stage selection process, the prize founders and organisers announced the shortlist in May 2019.


Balal Aquil /  Omid Asadi / Lucy Burscough / Tracey Bush / Duncan Cameron / Faye Claridge / Judy Clarkson / Wayne Clough / Connor Coulston / Sarah Craske / Smout Allen Design Research /  Sarah Duncan /  Lisa Earley / Kate Genever /  Nigel Goldsmith /  Evagelia Hagikalfa /  Martin Hearne /  Michelle Heron /  Harriet Mena Hill / Marguerite Horner / Benedict Hughes / Juliette Losq / Pinkie Maclure / Farwa Moledina / Julie Moss / Fronc Ng / Kazuki Nishinaga /  Shanti Panchal / Lucy Pass / Lee John Phillips / Hilary Powell / Mike S Redmond & Faye Coral Johnson / Gabrielle Roberts-Dalton / Conor Rogers / Katrin Spranger / Emilia Symis / Kathy Taylor / Danny Treacy / Chao Wang / Pip Woolf / Colin Yates


Hew Locke, Artist; Barbara walker MBE, Artist; Jessie Brennan, Artist; Dr Rachel Dickinson, Director of Education, Guild of St George and Principal Lecturer Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University; Dr Jonathan Foyle, Architectural Historian, Broadcaster & Artist, Professor Tim Brennan, Artist & Head of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University and Kate Mason, Director, The Big Draw

Shortlist Exhibition ‘Agent of Change’ curated by: Rachel Price and Zoe Watson

With the values of the radical polymath and social justice pioneer John Ruskin at its core, and with his legacy in the spotlight in this bicentenary year, we are proud that the themes explored through The John Ruskin Prize resonate so strongly with creatives working across the nation. Thank you to everyone who submitted to the 2019 John Ruskin Prize.


John Ruskin (1819-1900) was a writer, artist and philanthropist. He championed many of the tenets of the welfare state, and inspired the founders of the National Health Service, the formation of Public Libraries, the National Trust and many other cornerstones of civil society in the last one hundred years. His influence reached abroad in such areas as women’s education, the minimum wage, child labour, and environmental protection and has served both as a restraining influence on unbridled capitalism and a moral conscience for the nations of the world.

He wrote on many things: art and architecture, nature and craftsmanship, literature and religion, political economy and social justice —a dizzying variety of subjects. He also worked tirelessly for a better society; the depth and range of his thinking, his often fierce critique of industrial society and its impact on both people and their environment, and his passionate advocacy of a sustainable relationship between people, craft and nature, remain as pertinent today as they were in his own lifetime.


"...the show is not so much an open call to artists but a call to arms" - Afterview on The John Ruskin Prize 2019: Agent of Change

Co-inciding with the bicentenary of Ruskin’s birth in 2019 the 5th John Ruskin Prize focused on the role and increasing relevance of Ruskin the impassioned social reformer, and significantly Ruskin as not just a great thinker, but a doer. The nationwide call for entries opened on Ruskin’s birthday (8th February), calling artists to respond to the theme: ‘Agent of Change’. A record number of artists, makers and designers responded, the panel considered over 3000 artworks from 1260 artists, finally shortlisting 41 artists for the well received exhibition hosted at The Holden Gallery, Manchester from 11 July - 24 August 2019. The 4th Prize, The John Ruskin Prize 2017, Hand & Eye: Master of All Trades, celebrated artist as polymath. The critically acclaimed shortlist exhibition was held at The Millennium Gallery, Sheffield from June - October 2017 and showcased an eclectic range of work of the 26 prize finalists, selected from over 1000 entries. 3 winners were awarded a total of £5000 in prizes and the exhibition attracted over 44,000 visitors. READ MORE. The selected artworks defied easy categorisation, dissolved boundaries and had a joyous disregard for the conventions of their chosen materials and disciplines. Several works addressed the parallel between artist and scientist, combined traditional craft with social commentary, displayed skilful material manipulation and a keen visual wit.

Since The John Ruskin Prize launched in 2012, with our partners, The Big Draw has organised 5 national prizes, considered entries from over 4000 artists and makers, awarded £20000 in prizes to 11 winning artists, promoted and displayed the work of 143 shortlisted artists and designers at high profile national museums and galleries attracting a total audience of over 120,000 visitors to John Ruskin Prize shortlist exhibitions and events. The prize continues to grow in reach, reputation and support for artists whose work defies easy categorisation.


The Big Draw was proud to be joining with organisations across the world to mark the bicentenary of John Ruskin’s birth in 2019 with a series of special events exploring Ruskin’s radical and increasingly relevant ideas on society, culture, politics, environmental issues and everything in between. A true polymath and social justice pioneer, Ruskin’s legacy was explored through exhibitions, talks, publications, workshops and the national art prize, The John Ruskin Prize.



Big Draw Exclusive Limited Edition Signed Print: 'Gluck Walking in a Green Valley' by Sir Quentin Blake (from 'The King of The Golden River' by John Ruskin)