Praeterita - John Riddy

Praeterita is the title of John Ruskin’s autobiography, a title he chose for a book which often reads like a travelogue. Buildings and mountains appear as equals alongside family and friends, and Ruskin describes his life as he might a journey. His view is both retrospective and selective and the passing landscape is viewed through the window of a failing memory. Ruskin attends only to what gives him ‘joy to remember’ and this includes the people and places that allowed for happiness alongside those moments that were crucial to a growing sensibility. Thus an unhappy marriage is ignored and his time spent in Venice is dismissed as mere ‘bye-work’. The cherished moment is often the one that permitted simple absorption, halting the journey so as to see more clearly. Description gives way, ‘things bind and blend themselves together’, and the ending is flawed, visionary and exultant. The following sequence of 28 images is intended to echo the 28 chapters of Praeterita and to reflect Ruskin’s affection for those moments when he stopped to better consider and later remember the view.

Ruskin School, 2000
Softcover, 88pp
300 x 260mm

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