Ruskin Rethink

Year | 2021
Location | Sheffield, United Kingdom
Client | Sheffield Museums

Working in association with Sheffield Museums and the Guild of St George, this Live Project aims to Reconfigure, Redesign and Rethink the Ruskin collection at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield City Centre. The aims of the project are to elevate the collection and diversify its audience; to allow it to educate and inspire a new generation of people in Sheffield; and to provoke difficult conversations around contemporary issues, such as social justice, the climate emergency and decolonisation.

The first set of outputs focused on the short term. Alongside accurate, detailed drawings and a 3D model, we endeavoured to engage with the public; organising a craft workshop and survey at the gallery. By encouraging gallery visitors to engage in making origami birds, share their thoughts and play with our physical model of the gallery, we were able to package public perception for the benefit of both the client and our design intentions.

Our second set of outputs looked to question the long term future of the gallery and the Ruskin collection – how we can increase involvement and a sense of ownership amongst the public? Building on the success of the craft workshop, we proposed a programme of exchange. The public will be invited to use recycled materials to create modular boxes from an online or physical template. By donating their box to the gallery, they are then able to loan a piece of Ruskin art from the archive to enjoy at home. These boxes can be used by the gallery in a variety of ways, be it surfaces, seating or storage. Equally, they can be fixed together to create a stage, a staircase or perhaps a cabinet of curiosities…

Using these multi-functional objects, we looked into how the gallery can shift and change over time; with the freedom to hold events, workshops and even protests. For example, John Ruskin was one of the first to write about changes in the environment due to heavy industry. This led us to questions such as ‘How might Extinction Rebellion curate the Ruskin Exhibition?’

Using recycled plywood and basic hand tools, we created our own modular box – notched together and fastened with a few screws – demonstrating the ease and enjoyment of making something with purpose. These modules will carry with them not only the patina of their previous use, but an intrinsic connection between the makers and the Ruskin collection.


Mentor: Lucy Dinnen
Client: Sheffield Museums and the Guild of St. George
Location: Millennium Gallery, Sheffield
Students: Alanna Stevenson, Chia-hsuan Chang, Connor Tulip,
Emma Huxtable, Jamie Smith, Jessica Raynsford, Kanjun Wang,
Peter Tomson, Rachael Cowan, Ran Duan, Sam Warriner, Yukang
Wang, Yunxin Zhang, Yuwei He