Posts Tagged ‘Roy Strong’

Sunday Review: Visions of England, by Roy Strong

14/08/2011, 12:00:19 PM

by Anthony Painter

In the aftermath of urban riots in the US in the 1960s, president Johnson set up a commission under Otto Kerner to review root causes and recommend responses. On top of recommending hundreds of billions of dollars of government expenditure and conclusively blaming poverty and inequality for the riots, the report hit the headlines with its conclusion:

“Our nation is moving towards two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal”.

What is more: white institutions were to blame for this state of affairs. Not surprisingly, President Johnson ignored it. Ed Miliband should be careful what he wishes for in asking for a public inquiry into this week’s riots. What England’s riots do warn, however, is that the modern English experience is not the same for all. Roy Strong’s new elegy for England, Visions of England, presents an idealised version of the nation. What we saw across England over a few days was a terrorised England. One is England as a dream; one is England as nightmare. Neither feels real.

Sir Roy Strong’s English idyll is passionately bonkers. He asks us to choose an England of pastoral tranquility. Constructed around the iconography of artists, writers, monarchs, and religious thought, Strong would have us revelling as modern John of Gaunts of Shakepeare’s Richard II. This is a blessed plot and it should be revered. (more…)

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