This website is very much work in progress. It has been set up in order to bring together the existing records of the life and work of Benjamin Creswick 1853-1946. The information was fragmented and in some cases difficult to find, however the story of his life has become a clearer narrative. It now seems reasonable to put it on the web with the hope of encouraging any interested readers to add any information they may have, and ask any questions the existing research may prompt. The starting point was an unpublished research paper by Simon Ogden which had Creswick’s terracotta work as its main theme. The additional information on Creswick’s career proved invaluable as an informed starting point from which further research could take place, forming the basis for the subsequent work.
There are many areas of this research that deserve more exploration. The evaluation of Creswick’s oeuvre and his place in the legacy of John Ruskin remain largely unexamined. There has come to light an interesting theme in the subjects of Creswick’s works and the opinions he expressed in his only written lecture. This theme makes it possible to argue that there is a relationship to many of the main themes of Ruskin’s writing on the teaching on art, the evils of the division of labour and the loss of the ‘craft guilds’ with Creswick’s work and teaching. Creswick in his work showed his commitment to Ruskin’s ideals and he expressed ideas on the fairness of evaluating his pupil’s work which echo them. The wider discussion of this subject remains to be done, but it is to be hoped that what has been put forward here, and the additions which are soon to follow will stimulate the debate on this subject.
This website has been made possible by the generosity of many people. However in setting this out I must point out that although so many people have been willing to advise and help, any mistakes or misinterpretations are mine alone. The web site is not an academic work and aims to put the existing record online as accurately as possible.
I have principally to thank Ms Lianne Hackett, my sheet anchor throughout the voyage of discovery. Simon Ogden now Sheffield City Development Manager, whose original research he has generously allowed me use as the backbone of my subsequent research and to whom I am immensly indebted. William Shaw, the insightful architect of the site and sufferer of the vagaries of my approach to the enterprise. The help and support of so many institutions has been so generously sustained and gratefully appreciated. Among the foremost of these has been the Worshipful Company of Cutlers at Warwick Lane London; The Sheffield Millennium Gallery, particularly the Curator of the Ruskin Collection, Louise Pullen; Sheffield Museums and Galleries,The Walkley Museum; Dr James Dearden, Past Master of the Guild of St George and present Director for Ruskin Affairs also, the present Master Clive Wilmer; The Birmingham City University Art and Design Archives, through Fiona Waterhouse archive research assistant; The Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery; The Royal Birminghham Society of Artists’ archives; the University of Glasgow, Institute of Art History; Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951 through Ann Compton, Member of the Steering Committee; The Bromsgrove Society, through the help of the President Mr John Weston and Mr Quentin Watt; the Ruskin Foundation (Ruskin Library, Lancaster University) through the help Professor Stephen Wildman, Director, and Diane Tyler, Research Assistant; Birmingham Royal Society of Artists; The William Morris Gallery; The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association in conjunction with the L.U.P for permission to use information from the outstanding publication series Public Sculpture; The Victorian Web; The Sheffield Local History Libraries; Birmingham Local History Library; The Historic Chapels Trust and Mr Edgar who kindly showed me round the Unitarian Memorial Chapel; Mr John L Wray for auction news, Mrs Christine Wooton; Katherine Hughes, a Ruskin tutor who carries the torch of Ruskin’s ideals and inspires enquiring minds; Mr Martin Jenkins whose support has been unfailing; Mr Peter H.Y. Wong O.B.E., G.S.B., J.P. without whom none of this would have been possible; and many, many others too numerous to list. Also, last but not least, my long suffering friends and family.