Fair & Foul: Ruskin & The Grotesque

An exhibition investigating the Grotesque by artist Jill Rock.


FAIR AND FOUL is an investigation into the grotesque at Brantwood, Coniston.
The grotesque is always a contested issue. In Stones of Venice Volume 111
Ruskin makes a detailed analysis of the ways that grotesques are portrayed,
relating them to society. In the final analysis he decides that there is a form
of the grotesque which is the mark of a vigorous culture. That is to say that
he would not necessarily consider the unmediated obscene or violent as
wholesome grotesque, merely obscene and violent. Ruskin’s view is of
particular relevance in our time of ‘violence in the Age of Spectacle’ where
we are bombarded with images in the media which engender fear and then
apathy. Maybe in Ruskin’s analysis where the grotesque is mediated
through beauty and a degree of humour we might find some way to a
healing process in our present time of terrorism. He coined the prophetic
phrase The Divinity of Decomposition as he surveyed the horrors of the
urbanisation of Victorian London, reflecting on its affect on the imagination of
people and artists in particular. It is of interest that it is said that Ruskin’s
analysis of the grotesque is much in line with contemporary psychology.

In Fair and Foul in the Blue Room at Brantwood, Jill Rock through the
medium of painted fragments of wood, many from the Brantwood estate,
has set up an exhibition which could be seen as a dialogue with Ruskin’s
analysis of the grotesque.

‘In my mind Ruskin is a man of ideas who has become increasingly relevant
as society draws closer to many of the concerns he expressed in his writings
some 150 years ago. I do believe that my realisation of the importance of
the grotesque in art began in 2003/4 when I spent a winter as artist on the
Brantwood estate. Since then I have gathered a collection of Grotesques
which have given me much delight and food for thought in the painting and I
would wish that they give the same in the viewing. To understand the
intricacies of Ruskin’s descriptions of the grotesque is labyrinthine and for
myself the best I can do is identify with the ‘playful grotesque’ which Ruskin
sees as coming from the serious mind at play – whether this is true of my
work or not I continue to ponder. I will be holding workshops, and artist
talks in the studio at Brantwood on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday,
February 14th. 15th. 16th during opening hours 10.30 to 4pm., free and open
to all ages.’

Jill Rock MRBS FRGS works with the nature and culture of a place, in this
case Brantwood and Ruskin. She has worked and exhibited her work
worldwide, including UK, Germany, Italy, Holland, France, US, Brazil. Chile,
Argentina, Lebanon and Hong Kong. She has had solo exhibitions in
Brantwood, London, Rome and Argentina. Fair and Foul, an investigation
into the grotesque is at Brantwood from January 10th to April 8th. Opening
hours 10.30 to 4pm



Event Information

Date & Time:10th January - 8th April 2018

Brantwood is an independent registered charity - The Brantwood Trust Coniston Cumbria LA21 8AD enquiries@brantwood.org.uk Telephone: 015394 41396 Fax: 015394 41263