Social Philosophy

Ruskin and the Polygon

Professor Sandra Kemp
Thursday, 13 February 2020 - 7:00pm


For Ruskin the world was equally an object of science and of the human imagination.  His work bypassed orthodox thinking; it was not just a set of contents but a powerful set of imaginaries, reflecting complex processes of vision and embodiment, the verifiable and the imagined, the objective and the creative.

Drawing examples from Ruskin’s depiction of architectural forms and of the natural world this presentation will explore Ruskin legacies for the 21st century through an investigation of his working methods.  ‘Mostly matters of any consequence are three-sided, or four-sided or polygonal and the trotting round a polygon is severe work for people any way stiff in their opinion’ [16.187], he once said.  Ruskin’s emphasis on plural repertoires of knowledge and the interplay of scientific knowledge and social and cultural value seem increasingly relevant today.


About the speaker

Professor Sandra Kemp is Director of The Ruskin Library, Museum and Research Centre at Lancaster University and Visiting Professor at Imperial College London.  As an academic and curator she has previously worked at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), the Royal College of Art, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, and the Universities of Oxford, Edinburgh and Glasgow.  Her projects include ‘John Lockwood Kipling: Art, Design and Industry’, a research collaboration between the V&A, the Bard Graduate Center (New York) and the Lahore Museum (Pakistan) and an exhibition at the V&A.  She is currently leading an international research partnership funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council entitled Universal Histories and Universal Museums on the role of the museum in building knowledge about the future.




Lamb hotpot served with pickled cabbage and crusty bread

Green vegetable risotto


Manchester tart

Fresh fruit salad