A Wander Around York

Took a day to go to York, principally to visit York Art Gallery’s Ruskin, Turner & The Storm Cloud exhibition after reading Suzanne Fagence Cooper’s excellent summary of the work of John Ruskin: To See Clearly.

York Art Gallery – well worth a visit (photo: Lucy Brouwer)

2019 marks 200 years since the birth of Ruskin, this exhibition looks at his way of seeing the world through drawing and writing about what he could see and how that made him appreciate the qualities of landscape, weather, buildings and artworks.

His thoughts on looking at nature, art and buildings were very influential in their day, both Watson Fothergill and Thomas Chambers Hine would have been aware of his writings on architecture and must surely have read The Stones of Venice, which shaped how Gothic architecture was seen in the 19th century. (Hine even had Ruskin’s autograph in his scrapbook.)

In the spirit of Ruskin, I have been encouraging people to “look up” and to notice the buildings that they might otherwise miss, with particular focus on the Victorian architecture in Nottingham. Since learning more about the Gothic Revivial and influences on Fothergill’s work, I find myself noticing buildings and spotting the style when out and about, thus it was in York.

York Magistrates Court, Clifford Street, York. (Photo: Lucy Brouwer)

Spotting these towers on the skyline I ventured to investigate. This is the York Magistrates Court (1890-92).

York Institute, Clifford Street, York (Photo: Lucy Brouwer)

Next door, York Institute (1883-85), mixing Gothic Revival with an eastern influence.

I particularly liked these faintly byzantine kiosk finials. (Photo: Lucy Brouwer)

Barclays Bank, (1901) had some really striking terracotta with the colour marvellously preserved.

A little further on, came upon Barclays bank with some fantastic terracotta work. (Photo: Lucy Brouwer)

To shelter from the rain, we popped into the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall, a timber framed medieval hall, now a museum.

Merchant Adventurers’ Hall (Photo: Lucy Brouwer)

When we reached York Art Gallery, to a look round the Ruskin, Turner & The Storm Cloud exhibition, I was delighted to find that Annie Creswick Dawson’s book about Benjamin Creswick (blogs passim) was on sale in the shop.

I was particularly struck by this quote from John Ruskin, which can be applied as much to myself as to Medieval stonemasons! (Photo: Lucy Brouwer
York Minster from York Art Gallery. (Photo: Lucy Brouwer)
York station, built on a curve. (Photo: Lucy Brouwer)

The more you start to look, the more you see the shapes of nature, the wonders of engineering and the beauty in the details.