The Nature of economics: the Dasgupta report on biodiversity

April 8, 2021

The Dasgupta Report on biodiversity (1) was published at the beginning of February. It is an important document on a par with Nicholas Stern’s The Economics of Climate Change published in 2006. Not least because it has been commissioned and published by HM Treasury rather than by an environment ministry.  Its timing is significant coming […]

Will we be remembered as ‘Good Ancestors’?

November 24, 2020

The concept of the ‘Good Ancestor’ isn’t exactly new. As Roman Krznaric acknowledges in his book (1) the term was coined by Jonas Salk, the man who developed the polio vaccine sixty years ago. He quotes him: ‘Will future generations speak of the wisdom of their ancestors as we are inclined to speak of ours? […]

A dangerous field: women artists and the photographic image

November 12, 2020

The theme of PhotoOxford2020 is ‘Women and photography: ways of seeing and being seen’. The theme enables contemporary artists, photographers and curators to rediscover and celebrate women photographers whose work has been overlooked or marginalised over the years. Helen Muspratt, (1907-2001) a photographer I had never heard of until this year, is a case in […]

Masculinities: liberation through photography

August 23, 2020

I’d been looking forward to going to this exhibition which opened on 20 February, but didn’t get the opportunity to visit before lockdown, so  I was delighted to get to see it just a couple of days before the end of its extended re-opening on 23 August. The subject is certainly topical in the context […]

A room with a view

August 8, 2020

We all know that writing isn’t just the process of sitting staring at a screen and hoping great thoughts will appear. My allotment plays quite an important part in the creative process; the rhythm of planting, watering, weeding, pruning and harvesting and the calm it brings, all enable creative thoughts to emerge from the subconscious.  […]

Planning’s radical and socialist roots

June 15, 2020

The COVID19 lockdown has some upsides, including quiet streets, bird song, clean air and a chance to think. It has also allowed me time to read a number of books that have been weighing on my conscience, the important but not so urgent category. One of these has been Duncan Bowie’s on the radical and […]

Transport infrastructure investment and national economic priorities

May 1, 2020

I’m not sure that when Boris Johnson claimed during the Tory leadership contest last year that making model buses and putting happy people in them, was the way he relaxed, that he anticipated this would become a metaphor for his infrastructure policies once Prime Minister. But with the subjects of connectivity and ‘levelling up’ suddenly […]

Oxford boy: a post-war townie childhood

March 11, 2020

Will Wyatt who was head of documentaries and managing director of television at the BBC was born and brought up in Oxford during and after World War Two. This is his childhood memoir [Oxford boy: a post war townie childhood. Signal Books 2018]. It is a memoir of what he calls ‘a townie childhood’ and […]

Theaster Gates: transforming Chicago’s south side one vacant building at a time

December 28, 2019

Not many urban planning graduates get to have a solo exhibition at the Tate. But Theaster Gates is no ordinary urban planning graduate. For a start he has two planning degrees. Performance artist, ceramicist, urban regenerator, Theaster Gates‘s first solo exhibition in the UK, Amalgam, opened at Tate Liverpool in December, running till May 2020 […]

Our National Parks at seventy

October 11, 2019

This autumn marks the 70th anniversary of the passage of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. The then Minister of Town and Country Planning, Lewis Silkin, described it as ‘the most exciting Act of the post War Parliament’ (1) A big claim, but it was certainly of a piece with the Labour […]