Paul Tuge where he hid after shooting a policeman in 2001 - David Goldblatt, 18 February 2010

Serious stories

‘I’m certainly not doing this for some high-flown reason. I don’t consider myself to be a reformer, and I don’t think this is going in any way whatever to affect the rate of crime.’ The auditorium is dark and quiet. David Goldblatt seems very small against the huge black and white photograph projected behind him.…

Albert Camus by Petr Vorel

From Newspeak to Nonspeak

General elections don’t happen very often so it’s odd that this one should be so dull. The campaign has slipped from the headlines and radio presenters have even taken to reassuring listeners it will soon be over. It’s not as if there’s nothing at stake. The parties are not the all same: everyone will be…

Life Loves to Change 2

Whose line is it, anyway?

One lovely evening this summer, I stood waiting in the lobby of the Market Theatre in the Herefordshire town of Ledbury. The sunshine spilling through the windows was starting to get uncomfortably warm, but no one seemed to mind. The space was crowded and there was a babble of anticipation as people waited for the…

Raeburn - Walter Scott (Detail)

An artist out of time

I was driving home through the Scottish Borders—like Debatable Lands everywhere, this lovely region is used to strangers—when I passed a sign to Abbotsford. I’d seen images of Sir Walter Scott‘s home that had given me the impression of a vast faux-baronial pile, filled with the historical paraphernalia one might associate with the creator of…

A pastel sketch by Edwin Smith of Olive Cook and (knitting) his mother. It was given to me by Olive at our first meeting in the 1990s/

National Treasures

Gunnie Moberg (1941-2007) was a photographer, painter and designer, born in Sweden and an Orkney woman by adoption. A small grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled Orkney Library and Archive to acquire and conserve her archive. A website has just gone live to begin to tell the story of Gunnie Moberg, her work…

396px-Alistair_Cooke,_head-and-shoulders_portrait,_facing_front,_gesturing_with_left_hand,_during_interview,_March_18,_1974

Artful integrity: on Alistair Cooke

In August 1983, New York experienced a heat wave of unusual ferocity. One evening, in his 15th floor apartment overlooking Central Park, the BBC’s correspondent, Alistair Cooke, sought to divert himself with a video. He was disappointed to find the screen displaying only bands of illegible colour, though the sound appeared unaffected. Thinking the tape…

Jochen Gerz, ‘Platz des Unsichtbaren Mahnmals’, Saarbrucken, 1990

What is the Parliament of Dreams?

When I started this site, at the beginning of last year, I called it the Parliament of Dreams because I’ve used that metaphor to suggest how I see the unique place of art in democratic society, It was an idea that I had been thinking about since the late 1990s but I hadn’t found an…