Jonathan Meades

Jonathan Meades’s new collection of essays, Pedro and Ricky Come Again, has been postponed until spring 2021.

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?

The Queen unveiled the Bomber Command Memorial at Hyde Park Corner on 28 June. ‘Sixty-seven years too late’ according to a chorus of jingoists who have apparently long been militating for such a memorial. The urbane Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede designed by Edward Maufe was evidently reckoned insufficiently specific. And the appetite for acknowledgment was hardly sated by the...

From The Blog
7 February 2018

Jonathan Meades’s eulogy was read at Gavin Stamp's funeral in Camberwell on 25 January by Otto Saumarez Smith. There are millions of people who feel deeply about the depredations of the construction industry; who feel deeply about architects wantonly exposing themselves like red-rumped macaques in the hope of attracting central Asian tyrants; who feel deeply about the environmental, social and aesthetic iniquities visited on this increasingly sick, increasingly corrupt little country. But, as Thom Gunn noted, ‘Deep feeling doesn't make for good poetry. A way with language would be a bit of a help.’ Most of the millions do not have a way with language. Gavin did have. For poetry substitute polemic; substitute philippic; history; panegyric. Gavin tirelessly articulated the discontents of the many whose lives are screwed by the cupidity of the few. Architecture and buildings are political. And Gavin was, among much else, a political writer – a political writer in disguise, but a supremely political writer.

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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