The screenprint and etching by Anya Gallaccio were inspired by blocks of melting ice. The contrast between the pure, sparkly white ice and the sooty black ice remind us of the effects of human activity on climate change. Even in Ruskin’s day the effects of pollution in modern cities was much maligned for destroying natural beauty. He described Manchester’s ‘devil darkness’ and ‘foul fog’ at the time. Of course, the city is far cleaner today, but our activities are still damaging the environment despite increased awareness. Are you worried about your own carbon footprint?
These strange landscapes remind me of the fantasy drawings of alien planets in my cousin’s ‘Boys Own Annuals’ from the 1960s. The glacier depicted in these two prints is at Zermatt, Switzerland and is now melting due to climate change.
John Ruskin had a great passion for the ‘doom and gloom’ of mountain scenery. Stott’s moody river of ice carving through the dark slopes of Jungfrau was undoubtedly influenced by Ruskin’s encouragement for artists of the time to visit Switzerland.
Ruskin produced this painting in 1860, at the end of the ‘Little Ice Age’, when glaciers in the Alps were far more extensive than they are today. Mer de Glace is the longest glacier in France, but has retreated so much since this work was painted that it is no longer visible from Ruskin’s viewing point. I wonder how much the subject of this scene will change in the future?
‘Red sky at night, sailor’s delight’. According to this old saying, the richly coloured sky in Palmer’s painting promises fair weather for these sailors and their families. Does anyone know the origin of the ‘red sky’ saying?
Today marks the anniversary of Turner’s death on 19th December, 1851. Over 20,000 works in his possession at the time, including oil paintings, watercolours and drawings, were bequeathed to the nation. He was not always appreciated by art critics during his life, but is now one of Britain’s most highly regarded sons. In memory of Turner I have chosen ‘Moonlight on Lake Lucerne’, my favourite piece from the Unstable States exhibition, as the image for my post today. Thank you, JMW, your light still shines brightly.
John Ruskin greatly admired Turner’s treatment of clouds and commented that “other great men coloured clouds beautifully, none but he ever drew them truly”. What do you think of Turner’s sketchy, almost impressionist painting of sunlight reflected on wet sand?