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Aluminati, Michaelmas 2016

Michaelmas Term 2016 has been as busy and productive as ever, and as we come to the end of another year, we are thrilled to look back and share news with our Ruskin alumni via their newsletter, Aluminati.

Message from Brian Catling, Head of School

Greetings from the end of Michaelmas Term.  Almost Christmas and the tree is up in the High.

Thinking and talking about you all and what we can plan in the near future. My main focus for the on-coming year will be to secure replacements for my post and others in the School and continuing its developing profile and reputation internationally. All of your success and achievement are vital in this process. So please keep in touch and tell us all.  

There have been many wonderful things occurring and it’s a pleasure to pass these on to you.


Helen Marten : Turner Prize Winner 2016 + Recipient of the inaugural Hepworth Prize for Sculpture

Everyone at the Ruskin, including alumni and current students and staff alike, were so excited to hear of Helen's incredible successes this year and shared great excitement in seeing her win two such significant awards.  A distinctive artist and a wonderful student, many colleagues have great memories of Helen's time at the School.   Fantastic news, happy days!  


Student Voices 

Here is some news from two of our current MFA students:

Naomi Mishkin

Greetings from Bullingdon Road, Ruskin alums. My name is Naomi Mishkin and I am an artist from New York. Originally trained as a glassblower, my artwork encompasses a range of materials and forms including wax, collage, textiles, printmaking, sculpture and photography. 

I arrived in Oxford this term for an MFA and quickly set about establishing my studio and practice here at the Ruskin. After retrofitting my space with all the important things (masking tape, a shiny new ruler, comfy pillow), I decided to dive right in with making a full body cast of myself. I will be turning this cast into a useable dress form to make garments off of. Model as maker, maker as model, sculpture as process, process as sculpture. Simon Lewis and Matthew Terry were instrumental in helping me complete the mold. Now, I must sign off though, because the plaster has cured and it’s ready for another layer.  Cheers!

Naomi Mishkin

Christopher Milne

Hailing from one of Long Island, NY’s picturesque East End communities, I’ve traveled to the majestic City of Dreaming Spires where I’m reading for an MFA. It’s thrilling to be at the Ruskin where my work continues to evolve into a flourishing multidisciplinary practice that privileges installation and aims for an immersive, sensorial experience. As the form of my work is shifting, so too  are  my enquiries into contemporary theory and related research topics. My highly aestheticized research-based practice is primarily concerned with explorations into gender identity and the hyperreal and intertwines various modes of research, writing, and making. With the exceptional support of the dedicated Ruskin staff, Bullingdon Road facilities, and endless resources at the Bodleian Libraries, my practice is undergoing a profound transformation. I’m excited and optimistic by the progress I’ve realized during the first term. Gosh, it’s hard to believe that Michaelmas has already come to a close. Happy Holidays, Oxonians!

1,2,6,8,12,... Installation View, 2015


Staff Focus

The School welcomed Ian Kiaer at the start of this academic year, as an Associate Professor in Fine Art. Ian has already made a significant contribution to the Ruskin and, whilst being affiliated to Brasenose College, has also assumed the role of Second Year BFA tutor.

Ian reports: "I want to say how happy I am to join colleagues at the Ruskin. Having come from the Royal College of Art in London, where I was Reader in painting post-post medium overseeing research students, I am enjoying working across undergraduate and postgraduate studies. My practice tends to involve installations of architectural models, untouched or sightly modified found objects and two dimensional work to create fragmented narratives. At a time when many institutions are recruiting largely for financial survival, I appreciate how the Ruskin has managed to retain its size and sense of community which remains committed to teaching and supporting students. I have moved to Oxford with my wife Jieun who is already here as a fellow at Hertford College teaching linguistics and two daughters Sarah and Jessica." 

For those alumni who will be in Germany over Christmas, you are also invited to see Ian’s work in a group show, Klappe eins, Affe tot at Kunstsaele Berlin.

Klappe eins, Affe tot...

In other staff news, if you find yourself in London in the New Year, Ruskin tutors Claudia Sarnthein and Richard Grayson, along with Maria Chevska, will be taking part in a group show at Lubomirov/Angus-Hughes from 14th January to 5th February, with the Private View on 13th January, 6-9pm.   You are warmly invited to join them!


Postgraduate Alumni News

We are always thrilled to receive news of the successes of Ruskin graduates and would like to use our newsletter to share with you the good news that reaches us. Here are a few highlights that have come to our attention concerning recent graduates of the Ruskin’s doctoral programme, many of whom are making their marks on the art world nationally and internationally:


Hilary Floe is now Assistant Curator at the Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery

Chelsea Nichols is Curator of Modern Art, at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand

Vid Simoniti has been appointed as inaugural Jeffrey Rubinoff Junior Research Fellow at Churchill College, University of Cambridge

Damian Taylor has been appointed to a 3-year Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship at the Ruskin School


Simon Pope had a solo exhibition at the Danielle Arnaud Gallery, London in September to October 2016, and has many other projects in progress

Christian Thompson is exhibiting in the 11th Shanghai Biennale, Why Not Ask Again, curated by the Raqs Media Collective, Power Station of Art, Shanghai, 11 November 2016 – 12 March 2017


Prizes & Awards

The Ruskin continues to offer a variety of artistic opportunities beyond each degree programme through a selection of awards and prizes.   This year, second year BFA student, Virginia Russolo was awarded the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology Art Prize for her work: Penicillin

Students are invited to create a work in response to the research being undertaken at the Sir William Dunn School, the subject area of pathology or the School's architecture. Virginia adds: “The original vessel was chosen to be replicated in tribute to the ingenuity of Dr Heatley in creating a more efficient environment for the growth of the penicillin fungus. Just as the fungus develops in isolation before being subsumed into a wider progress, so it is with the unique discoveries of scientific practitioners, at first isolated then giving momentum to shared development.” 


Graduate BFA Alumni News

We always love to hear news from our BFA graduates too - emails that you send on trains as you travel from one place to another with a shared memory of your time at the School, or news of exhibitions and new jobs.  

Recent updates that reached us in time for Aluminati include news from:


Stephen Bochonek (BFA 2010)

Stephen Bochonek will be exhibiting some recently completed drawings on sale at A.P.T Gallery in Deptford for one evening only on Tuesday 20th December 2016, 6:30 – 9pm. The exhibition is being supported by A.P.T Projects, an education programme which enables artists to develop their artistic practice and release their potential. 

The address is: A.P.T Gallery, Harold Wharf, 6 Creekside, Deptford, London SE8 4SA.  

The curators of the above show are Stephanie Farmer (BFA 2009) + Jacob Wolf (BFA 2009)


Holly Muir (BFA 2016)

Holly has recently completed the set design and build for a Russian ballet-opera currently being performed in London.  Written in 1916 but never fully staged you can find more details here

Whilst she will spend the first part of 2017 in Berlin, Holly has been offered a scholarship to study English Literature and Creative Writing at Princeton University, starting in September.  She says: "I'll be trying to explore the things I was doing visually through writing, and hope to end this year of research having written my own collection of fiction. You can read more about Holly's achievement in a Princeton news report


Naiza Khan (BFA 1990) 

For our alumni in Asia, news just in from Naiza that she will be exhibiting at the Kochi Muziris Biennale from now until 29th March 2017. 


Olivia Rowland (BFA 2016) + Alvin Ong (BFA 2016)

During the course of next year, Olivia + Al will take up an artist's residency at Dumfries House that has been offered to them by the Royal Drawing School.  From 2017, a graduating MFA + BFA student from the Ruskin will each be offered this residency in Scotland on an annual basis. 

Alvin has also recently been awarded a scholarship from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation in support of his upcoming MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art. 


Red Mansion Foundation Art Prize + Exhibition 2017

The Ruskin will be the host for the Red Mansion Foundation Art Prize next year and we greatly look forward to organising the exhibition for last year’s winners of this prestigious award. 

The show will be co-curated by Ian Kiaer and Varda Caivano and will take place at Kendrew Barn at St John's College from Saturday 25th March through to and including Friday 31st March 2017.  You are each invited to return to Oxford and share in the artists’ success.

Sonia Bernac (BFA 2015) has been commissioned to design all the invitations and promotional material for this exhibition and art prize, following her successful designs for the launch event of the new Ruskin building at Bullingdon Road in 2015.


Ruskin Degree Shows – Save the Date!

Plans continue apace for the BFA and MFA Degree Shows that will take place at Bullingdon Road next summer. 

The Private View will be held on Friday 16th June 2017.   We look forward to seeing you there!


And finally, this comes with our very best wishes to each and every one of you for a very happy and creative Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Do continue to keep in touch and pop in and see us when you can!