Articles in the Arts & Culture category:

The Nature of Prosperity

April 11, 2018

It was Oscar Wilde who said that ‘A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at.’ It was in this spirit that Surrey University’s Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) and the William Morris  Society convened a symposium in London in February entitled ‘The nature of […]

Martin Parr’s ‘Oxford’: Fawlty Towers meets Trump Towers

September 14, 2017

Martin Parr’s Latest exhibition ‘Oxford’, has just opened as part of Photo Oxford 2017 at the Bodleian Library’s Weston Library.  This exhibition won’t disappoint Parr fans, but it raises some awkward questions for its sponsors, Oxford University Press (OUP) and the Bodleian Library – especially the accompanying book. Parr was commissioned to take a characteristic […]

John Henry Brookes: the man who inspired a university

February 25, 2016

I recently came across a book that had been presented as an end of year prize to a student at the Oxford School of Technology, Art and Commerce. It was signed by the principal, one JH Brookes. Although I recognised the name, it made me realise just how little I knew about the person or […]

Telling stories for the Earth

December 24, 2015

The climate march in London on 29 November, coinciding with the opening of the Paris climate talks, attracted over 50,000 people, a record for such an event and it was by turns colourful, joyful, passionate and serious. The weather played the ‘bad cop’ though, showery rain, strong winds and thick cloud making the day extremely […]

Peter Kennard; unofficial war artist

August 10, 2015

For anyone involved in the peace movement, especially CND since the early 1980’s as I have been, Peter Kennard is a familiar name. And his photomontage posters on all aspects of peace, war and conflict are even more familiar. Think Constable’s Haywain, loaded with a delivery of Cruise Missiles heading for Greenham Common, (‘Haywain with […]

Cultural capital: creative Britain in the age of New Labour

June 24, 2015

Robert Hewison is a cultural critic and in his book – Cultural capital,  he turns his sights on what he characterises as the ‘rise and fall of creative Britain’, charting this process from the period when Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party in 1994 and the term ‘Cool Britannia’ was coined, more or […]

Anarchy and beauty

December 21, 2014

William Morris is somebody that many people in the planning, architecture and design worlds have found inspirational. However rather than looking at the man himself, Fiona MacCarthy’s exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) to 15 January 2015, takes a look at Morris’s legacy. NPG Director Sandy Nairne, introduces the exhibition by saying that it […]

Museum without walls: Meades vs Morris

February 1, 2014

Jonathan Meades is an architectural writer and TV programme maker. Museum without walls is a compilation of 54 articles and six television scripts written over a couple of decades and loosely organised around themes including place, memory, blandness, ‘edgelands’ and urban regeneration. He is an architectural writer who hates architects – the feeling is heartily […]

Reflections on how I came to be influenced by the politics and culture of William Morris

January 31, 2013

As a child in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s I was brought up in the village of Wootton near Woodstock on the edge of the Cotswolds, about 12 miles from Oxford. The village residents included a fair number of writers, artists, journalists and dons. Amongst them were Edmund and Meg Penning-Rowsell, who were great […]

Forbidden Fruit: a meditation on science, technology and natural history

December 29, 2012

  Heathcote Williams is a story teller best known for his epic poems such as ‘Whale Nation’ and ‘Autogeddon’. His latest collection of sixteen poems described as a ‘meditation on science technology and natural history’ reflects this story telling skill. It is by turns topical, political and personal. ‘Being kept by a jackdaw’ is a […]