Haunting view of landscape

Maggie Hargreaves, winner of the 2014 John Ruskin Prize and her charcoal drawings, Slowly Creeping and Changing Places 2
Maggie Hargreaves, winner of the 2014 John Ruskin Prize and her charcoal drawings, Slowly Creeping and Changing Places 2

Vivid visions of contemporary Britain by 23 established and emerging artists are on view in the the Millennium Gallery this summer.

They represent the works shortlisted for the 2014 John Ruskin Prize including the winning entry by Maggie Hargreaves, two large charcoal drawings displayed prominently on the wall facing the entrance to the exhibition.

Recording Britain Now, features interpretations of the artists’ urban, rural or social environment.

The prize-winning companion pieces by Maggie Hargreaves from Bury show how nature which has been invaded by man-made structures can eventually reclaim its territory once the building has been abandoned.

Slowly Creeping is a charcoal study of the remains of a Victorian cyanide works which produced dyes for the Manchester textile industry. The blackened barren land has gradually been reclaimed by nature like the abandoned play area in Changing Space 2.

Founded by the Guild of St George in partnership with the Campaign for Drawing, the John Ruskin Prize in its second year takes its theme from the V&A exhibition Recording Britain which is touring to the Millennium Gallery.

The works on display in Recording Britain Now in the Craft and Design Gallery combine a rich mix of traditional techniques and new media with contemporary commentary. Philip Sanderson uses tapestry to depict one of Britain’s eerie edge-lands contrasting with Mandy Payne’s claustrophobic concrete slabs spray-painted with scenes of Sheffield’s Park Hill estate. 

Another Sheffield artist, Sean Williams’ painting, It Haunts it, portrays a familiar residential development with a cynical twist: a vision of its bland future fills the hoarding that conceals the site’s more interesting architectural past.

Also from Sheffield, Roanna Wells’ embroidered print is based on the Red Arrows display over the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations at, Buckingham Palace in 2012

The other finalists selected from submissions by almost 600 amateur and professional artists are Hannah Brown, Ian Chamberlain, Michael Cox, Anny Evason, Ros Ford, Evy Jokhova, Ben Lingard, Colin Maxwell, Jennifer Morgan, Darren Reid, Dolores de Sade, Chris Shaw Hughes, Sonia Stanyard, Catherine Sutcliffe-Fuller, Gillian Swan, Sarah Taylor-Silverwood and Rebecca Upton.

Kirstie Hamilton, Exhibition & Display Manager at Museums Sheffield and a member of the judging panel, said: “These visions of landscape often convey a sense of transition. They pose questions of where we go from here. They are very atmospheric and although you can’t find people in them – which was not a condition of selection, incidentally – there is a strong sense of human presence there.”

Recording Britain Now continues at the Millennium Gallery until October 12.