Articles in the Arts & culture category:

Standing at the sky’s edge

April 19, 2023

The programme for this musical which has transferred from Sheffield Crucible Theatre to the National Theatre (NT)  in London, has a powerful and informative introductory essay by Sheffield urban planner Gordon Dabinett. Not an everyday occurance in NT programmes. But Standing at the sky’s edge is no everyday performance.  The setting for the musical is […]

Digging the dirt: the archeology of East Oxford

March 7, 2023

‘The Archeology of East Oxford’ records the results of a programme of archeological work carried out in East Oxford,defined as ‘Oxford-east-of-the-Cherwell’, between 2010-2015. The area is full of interesting historical and archeological sites but as the introduction puts it: ‘External perceptions are, however, often of a mundane and unexciting nature; that Oxford’s sprawling eastern districts […]

Radical Landscapes: activism, identity and imagination in a not-so-cold climate

October 24, 2022

The land has always been a contested space.  The 2000 ‘right to roam’ legislation, despite its inviting title, only covers about 8% of land in England.  Getting outside and enjoying the fresh air and countryside were high priorities during the pandemic, and focused people’s minds on what was and was not possible. Land ownership and […]

Staight Line Crazy: Robert Moses, the planner who did

August 11, 2022

Back in the 1990s when I first became a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute I opened my first copy of its The Planner magazine with great interest. One thing I still remember from that edition was a letter lamenting the fact that architects got all the glory in Hollywood movies and that planners […]

All will be well… in time

May 4, 2022

This is the story* of a young man Ernest Thomas, at war. Thomas was born on Christmas day 1895 and brought up on Kingston Road in north Oxford, his father a ‘brewer’s traveller’ for Halls Oxford Brewery, with his mother Florence bringing him up along with three younger sisters Peggy, Kathleen (Kathy) and Marjorie.  Ernest […]

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.  […]

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 […]