garden tales from a Brit at home and abroad
Marc Treib is one of my favourite writers about landscapes. He is thought-provoking, prolific and easy-to-read, perhaps the three qualities to which I most aspire.
So it was with pleasure that I bought Spatial Recall, the collection of essays he edited last year on the role of memory in architecture and landscape. Each chapter is pleasingly disparate, reflecting perhaps their origins as papers for a symposium. Topics roam from the way that landscape design can help explain Ancient Egypt to the complex relationship between personal memories and state-sponsored historic preservation. I particularly enjoyed Susan Schwartzenberg‘s case study revealing how nostalgia and longing can alter our visual memories of a place. Treib’s own contribution, which ponders on our differing responses to ruins and remains, is typically cogent and persuasive. The book even confidently includes an essay by Andrew Shanken that challenges the very topic of memory and questions the modern industry of commemoration, mourning and memorials.
My only grumble (apart from the title, which is presumably a pun on the Schwarzenegger film, but for me fails to capture the thoughtful nature of the book) is the cover price: at some 270 pages and with only black-and-white images, the paperback edition retails at £31.99; the hardback is an eye-popping £95. Nevertheless, it is a stimulating, reader-friendly book, and a topic that is of increasing interest to those in the profession, and more widely.