The Argument from Design

John Barrell

  • Landscape and Memory by Simon Schama
    HarperCollins, 624 pp, £25.00, April 1995, ISBN 0 00 215897 3

The five videotapes of Simon Schama’s BBC 2 series Landscape and Memory must have been sent to me in a wrapping all too suspiciously plain. They never arrived, nicked, we presume, by a postal worker with a thing for blue movies. I like to think he wasn’t too disappointed. There was a lot more drapery than he could have wished or expected: in each of the programmes I remembered to record myself, the entire studio had been wrapped in muslin or bunting, by a designer whose notions of landscape art were mainly derived from Christo’s. But the energy, the excitement, the passion of Schama’s performance were beyond anything that the average nine-to-five professional porn star can usually manage (or so I gather).

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