Jonathan Meades

Jonathan Meades’s most recent book is Pedro and Ricky Come Again.

Blighted Plain: Wiltshire’s Multitudes

Jonathan Meades, 6 January 2022

In​ his introduction to the first edition of The Buildings of England: Wiltshire (1963), Nikolaus Pevsner wrote with barely contained anger that

Wiltshire would be as wonderful as it must have been in Hardy’s, in Hudson’s and in Jefferies’s days, if the army, and more recently the air force, had not got hold of it. As it is, the army is up in Salisbury Plain with towns of...

Sightbites: Archigram’s Ghost

Jonathan Meades, 21 May 2020

Archigram was an out-of-hours architectural band of six men – Peter Cook, Warren Chalk, Ron Herron, Dennis Crompton, Michael Webb and David Greene – whose day jobs were with big commercial practices and local authorities. They formed in the early 1960s and over the next decade or so produced thousands of designs for ‘cities of the future’ that were highly original,...

Lynda Nead​’s new study of the ways in which postwar Britain was represented by what was not yet called its media is tirelessly oblique. She contrives to see everything through the reductionist lenses of colour and colourlessness. She leans heavily on Raymond Williams’s notion of a ‘structure of feeling’ which supposedly defines the ‘particular and...

Short Cuts: This Thing Called the Future

Jonathan Meades, 8 September 2016

Concorde​ was seen in the sky over West London for the first time in late June 1969. Less than a month later Neil Armstrong stepped from Apollo 11 onto the moon. The future had arrived. It was tangible, it was thrilling, it was now. We came to believe that we were all part of an adventure without end. This was just the beginning, the new beginning. What we didn’t realise was that this...

Luc Tuymans’s painting The Walk shows Hitler and Speer silhouetted in early evening light on the Obersalzberg. The photograph that the painting is based on is mute. Tuymans’s manipulation of it is anything but. His Hitler, the Führer, the guide, is indeed guiding, just. He is stumbling awkwardly towards the last of the light while the upright Speer holds back, following certainly, but cautiously, tentatively, allowing his idol and besotted patron first dibs on divining the future – which may prove to be less golden than the sun’s shafts seem to promise. What if the guide has lost his touch?

Lists​ make us feel better. They take the uncertainty and messiness of life and spray it with a sense of purpose. On low days, I sometimes write to-do lists of tasks I have already done and put...

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Meades is our greatest exponent of what the Russian Formalists called ostranenie, ‘making-strange’.

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