From Ruskins Window 2000 (2001)
Peter Hagerty
A narrative on the picturesque
Thirty Nine Colour Photographs
Brantwood View 1997


I had been engaged in researching nineteenth century representations of landscape, which had caused me to re-read the English writer John Ruskin (1819-1900).

Ruskin did not like photography, but he was a champion of the English painter Turner; when few others valued his work. Born of genetic good fortune, Ruskin was also a champion of the common man and a passionate early environmentalist.

In search of Ruskin's perspective on landscape a visit to his home at Brantwood became a secular pilgrimage. Not for the sight of things which he owned, but to establish the view through his bow window. This view I had long thought was the key to his writing on landscape.

In the event it was a beautiful view across Coniston water to the peaks on the far shore. But as I began to gaze on this picturesque view than it brought into focus a medley of unfairness and squalor, the loss of the gothic and the rise of cynical architecture. Like a mirage the "view" flipped between pictorial delight and urban nightmare and how at this moment I despised the patronising attitude of those blessed with good fortune but who unlike Ruskin are unable or unwilling to reflect upon their own failings. While criticising the poor for their apparently feckless lives and rumbustious entertainments, the priveliged elite quietly quaff and squander their inheritance.

Streets, rather than fields are now underfoot.
After the rain the littter shines, refreshed.


From Ruskins Window 2000 (2001)