February 8th, 2010 admin

As part of one of my upcoming exhibition of We English photographs at the National Media Museum (12th March – 8th September), and as discussed previously on the blog, we will be including photographs from the Museum’s own collection, introducing the English at leisure from a historical perspective.

Since September last year I’ve been working closely with Ruth Kitchin, Collections Assistant, on the selection and curation of works for the exhibition. Also involved was Stephen Daniels (Professor of Cultural Geography at Nottingham Trent University and author of the essay ‘The English Outdoors’ from We English) who was invited to the Museum to discuss the development of the selection. Here is a short film, shot in the Museum archives on 24th November last year, when we all came together to discuss some of the considerations for the selection.

Since 2005 Stephen Daniels has been Director of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s programme in Landscape and Environment. He has published widely on the history and theory of landscape imagery and design. His books include The Iconography of Landscape (Cambridge University Press, 1988) co-edited with Denis Cosgrove, Paul Sandy: Picturing Britain (Royal Academy of Arts, London July 2009) and the influential book Fields of Vision (Polity Press, Jan 1994).

Writing in the latter, Daniels describes landscape imagery “as not merely a reflection of, or distraction from, more pressing social, economic, or political issues; it is often a powerful mode of knowledge and social engagement. As exemplars of moral order and aesthetic harmony, particular landscapes achieve the status of national icons, and imperialists, almost by definition, have annexed the homelands of others in their identity myths, projecting on ‘foreigners’ pictorial codes that express both an affinity with the colonizing country and an estrangement from it.” In the book Daniels shows how various artists–including painters, landscape designers, and architects–have articulated national identities in England and the United States from the later eighteenth century to the present day.

You can download Daniel’s essay ‘The English Outdoors’ from We English, here.

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