Anglia Ruskin stages re-enactment of its inaugural address

Published: 1 October 2008 at 12:21

‘Spirited’ lecture of Victorian critic will recapture the excitement of the founding of the Cambridge School of Art.

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On 29 October 1858, John Ruskin, honoured the foundation of the Cambridge School of Art (CSA), by delivering a lecture which vigorously criticised art education and the wider life of Britain.

Biographer and lecturer Dr Paul O’Keeffe has been invited to re-enact the lecture of this celebrated Victorian critic to mark the 150 Year Anniversary of Anglia Ruskin University.  The Cambridge School of Art is the earliest part of what is now the University.

The event, on 22 October, will be staged at Zion Baptist Church, next door to Anglia Ruskin’s main Cambridge campus on East Road.  It is being organised by the University Chaplaincy for students and staff from the University, and general public who are welcome to attend, if they book a free ticket in advance.

On the night of the celebration of the founding of the Cambridgeshire School of Art, in 1858, there were lectures by three speakers - Richard Redgrave, George Cruickshank and John Ruskin. 

The opening soirée which laid the foundation for the institution was staged in the presence of the then Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, and local dignitaries from the City.

The forthcoming re-enactment is set to recapture the excitement of the evening. Dr O’Keeffe will present the prepared text of the lecture which highlights the place of art in society while dressed in Victorian costume. He is an accomplished biographer of such arts luminaries as Wyndham Lewis and Benjamin Robert Haydon. He stages sell out performances of John Ruskin. In 2008, he presented Ruskin’s Edinburgh Lectures at the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Talking about the event, the Reverend Nigel Cooper, University Chaplain, said:

"The original inaugural lecture was highly spirited judging by all  the reports and we are particularly looking forward to recapturing the excitement of the founding of the Cambridge School of Art, which  grew to become Anglia Ruskin University."

"The University Chaplaincy is delighted to be making this significant contribution to the 150 year celebrations."

The Re-Enactment of John Ruskin’s Inaugural Lecture for the Cambridge School of Art in 1858 by Dr Paul O’Keeffe takes place on Wednesday, 22 October 2008 at 5.30pm at the Zion Baptist Church, East Road, Cambridge.  Anyone who would like to attend should contact for free tickets by 17 October or call Nigel Cooper on 0845 271 3333 for more information. Guests are welcome to attend in Victorian costume.