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Medawartime

June Goodfield, 6 November 1986

Memoir of a Thinking Radish: An Autobiography 
by Peter Medawar.
Oxford, 209 pp., £12.50, April 1986, 0 19 217737 0
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... My first encounter with Peter Medawar revealed something about us both. When he was the new Mason Professor of Zoology in the University of Birmingham I was a student at University College, Nottingham, and one of my tasks as president of the student Zoological Society was to give votes of thanks to visiting speakers ...

Sticking to the text

Peter Porter, 2 May 1985

... In the Great Book of Beginning we read That the word was God and was with God And are betrayed by the tiniest seed Of all the world’s beginnings, to thrash Like sprats in a bucket, caught in deed As in essence by shapes of ourselves, Our sounds the only bargains we may plead. So starts this solipsistic essay about words, Its first stanza chasing its own tail, Since no word will betray another word In this sodality, self-repressing and male, And we discover, hardly believing our eyes And ears, a sort of chromatic scale, That whatever lives and feels is logos ...

At the Atlantis Gallery

Peter Campbell: The Survey of India, 6 November 2003

... is not reflected in the appearance of the grey boxes that house them. The analogue information read from sliding scales and verniers has been replaced by digital information read off a liquid crystal display and the nature of the units we use to measure distances and intervals has also changed. The metre is defined in ...

In the Park

Peter Campbell: Frank Gehry’s Pavilion, 31 July 2008

... Bramante built his Tempietto of San Pietro in Montorio: a little, round, domed martyrium – Saint Peter met his end nearby. It stands on the watershed that divides the style of the Early from that of the High Renaissance, and announces the feel of much that will follow. The Casino at Marino, the pavilion Sir William Chambers built early on in his ...

New Looks, New Newspapers

Peter Campbell, 2 June 1988

The Graphic Language of Neville Brody 
by Jon Wozencroft.
Thames and Hudson, 160 pp., £14.95, April 1988, 0 500 27496 7
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The Making of the ‘Independent’ 
by Michael Crozier.
Gordon Fraser, 128 pp., £8.95, May 1988, 0 86092 107 7
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... but in both cases graphic design allows scanning (as against reading), and allows those buyers who read very little of the continuous text to feel that they have had their money’s worth from the paper. The ingredients of the graphic style which Brody gave The Face included ‘abstract’ Bauhaus-like alphabets, headlines letter-spaced so that long and short ...

Two Poems

Aharon Shabtai, translated by Peter Cole, 30 November 2000

... helmet, conceptually speaking, his head is made of cardboard. On the other hand, the officer has read The Rebel; his head is enlightened, and so he does not believe in the mark of Cain. He’s spent time in museums, and when he aims his rifle at a boy, as an ambassador of Culture he updates and recycles Goya’s etchings and Guernica. War I, too, have ...

At the Gagosian

Peter Campbell: ‘Crash’, 11 March 2010

... Jones’s Archway (a sculpture in the Heathrow Hilton, Ballard’s favourite London building), you read that ‘sitting in its atrium one becomes, briefly, a more advanced kind of human being. Within this remarkable building one could never fall in love, or need to.’ Even when the overlap between a work and anything Ballard wrote is accidental, or ...

At the Royal Academy

Peter Campbell: The art of William Nicholson, 18 November 2004

... include only a single bowl of flowers, a single glass or a single jug. They are easy pictures to read, very little in them is redundant. In the painting of a City dinner, the faces are little more than pink blobs, differentiated just enough for you to see who is bald, who has a moustache, who wears glasses. But sometimes it takes a moment to get the ...

In Regent Street

Peter Campbell: A Mile of Style, 10 May 2007

... exteriors, but once over the threshold shopkeepers go their own way. Misalliances can be read in a seepage of logos and lettering which compromises the conformity of façades (or, if you like, enlivens them). A Mile of Style: 180 Years of Luxury Shopping on Regent Street at the Guildhall Art Gallery until 30 June covers both buildings and ...

Sexual Nonconformism

Peter Laslett, 24 January 1980

Wanton Wenches and Wayward Wives: Peasants and Illicit Sex in Early 17th Century England 
by G.R. Quaife.
Croom Helm, 283 pp., £11.50, July 1980, 0 7099 0062 7
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A History of Myddle 
by Richard Gough, edited by Peter Razzell.
Caliban, 184 pp., £9, October 1980, 0 904573 14 1
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... which introduced these things into the emotional lives of the mass of the population. No one can read Quaife’s book and still believe that. Lawrence Stone could surely not have written as he did in his Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500-1800 if he had had that knowledge of the really telling evidence which Quaife thinks he should have had. The other ...

At the V&A

Peter Campbell: Fashion photography, 19 October 2000

... context, artful. As artful as, say, Mario Sorrenti’s blurred pictures of a girl on a stool which read as photographic transcriptions of Bacon paintings. Photographs have lost the special status they had as evidence, but we still sort out, as far as we can, the real from the make-believe. Sometimes (as in the case of Sally Mann’s pictures of her ...

At Low Magnification

Peter Campbell: Optical Instruments, 9 September 2010

... of insects and pollen grains has so much in common with computer-graphic renderings that they read as abstractions. My optical toys, on the other hand, let you explore what you see, not see something beyond what you know. They enlarge no more than a few times, at the most a few tens of times. Sitting in an orchard last week I saw pied flycatchers make ...

Abortion, Alienation, Anomie

Peter Medawar, 2 December 1982

Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary 
by Robert Nisbet.
Harvard, 318 pp., £12.25, November 1982, 0 674 70065 1
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... is Voltaire’s Dictionnaire Philosophique – a bright idea, for Voltaire’s Dictionary is still read with delight by those who have come to think the better-known Candide intolerably tiresome. Voltaire’s is not, of course, a dictionary in the sense of being a work of reference in which one looks things up, but something more in the style of a ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: Dürer, 2 January 2003

... on pattern and detail rather than light, shade or movement. Dürer’s prints pull you in; you read them piece by piece. They invite commentary. Peter-Klaus Schuster wrote a two-volume book about Melancholia; the catalogue,* which says that the print ‘must be the most written about image in the history of ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Hands and Feet, 7 June 2007

... drawings in which he made a note of such things are famous. Chardin’s woman teaching a child to read holds her pointer so simply that it is a moment before you realise that the same kind of observation of modest things made it possible for him to give striking presence to a plum or a pot. In Rubens’s Samson and Delilah, the barber snips at Samson’s hair ...

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