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A Picture of Britain (Unabridged)
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Price:£14.85

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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2005
The BBC has established a considerable reputation for its ability to make dramatic, themed documentaries, using the landscape, travel, culture, ideas or history as its canvas, and painting vivid pictures which combine scholarly authority with excellent television and a package of DVD's, books, etc. David Dimbleby's excursions into the artistic inspiration of the British landscape seem to combine all aspects of the formula.
Dimbleby, of course, has great gravitas as a television presenter, and he makes a first class job of dragging the landscape and its changing weather patterns into your living room and consciousness. It was a thoroughly engaging television series - as a Scot, as a Celt, I have to say that Dimbleby can be a bit too English at times, but, overall, he does a compelling job of relating the natural canvas to the artistic one.
So how does the television series translate to book form? Well, not at all badly. The narrative is thoroughly accessible, well paced, and highly informative. The illustrations and print quality are first rate. All in all, it is a book which you may well treasure and which will, hopefully, provide inspiration to get you out to look at your surrounding landscape, to pick up pastel or brush, pen and paper, camera or clay, and find that emotional connection with place and environment which enriches us all.
However, while I can be disparaging of 'coffee table' books which simply offer loads of glossy photographs with little substance, "A Picture of Britain" loses something in its lack of pictures! Oh, it is beautifully illustrated, beautifully packaged, but much of the fascination of the television series lay in the ability of the camera to move you around, to get in close or pull back, to capture the essence of changing light and atmosphere. A book simply can't do that.
As an accompaniment to the series, this is a very fine book. As a stand alone, it is more of an hors d'oeuvres than a main course. But, whether you buy the one or both, the message really is, get out there, open your eyes, enjoy the extraordinary range of landscapes in the British Isles, appreciate the fickle British weather - sun, storm, night, day, land or sea - and be aware of the extraordinary quality of light which we experience on these islands, light of such subtlety and quality no scene is ever the same minute by minute, never mind day by day.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2005
The BBC has established a considerable reputation for its ability to make dramatic, themed documentaries, using the landscape, travel, culture, ideas or history as its canvas, and painting vivid pictures which combine scholarly authority with excellent television and a package of DVD's, books, etc. David Dimbleby's excursions into the artistic inspiration of the British landscape seem to combine all aspects of the formula.
Dimbleby, of course, has great gravitas as a television presenter, and he makes a first class job of dragging the landscape and its changing weather patterns into your living room and consciousness. It was a thoroughly engaging television series - as a Scot, as a Celt, I have to say that Dimbleby can be a bit too English at times, but, overall, he does a compelling job of relating the natural canvas to the artistic one.
So how does the television series translate to book form? Well, not at all badly. The narrative is thoroughly accessible, well paced, and highly informative. The illustrations and print quality are first rate. All in all, it is a book which you may well treasure and which will, hopefully, provide inspiration to get you out to look at your surrounding landscape, to pick up pastel or brush, pen and paper, camera or clay, and find that emotional connection with place and environment which enriches us all.
However, while I can be disparaging of 'coffee table' books which simply offer loads of glossy photographs with little substance, "A Picture of Britain" loses something in its lack of pictures! Oh, it is beautifully illustrated, beautifully packaged, but much of the fascination of the television series lay in the ability of the camera to move you around, to get in close or pull back, to capture the essence of changing light and atmosphere. A book simply can't do that.
As an accompaniment to the series, this is a very fine book. As a stand alone, it is more of an hors d'oeuvres than a main course. But, whether you buy the one or both, the message really is, get out there, open your eyes, enjoy the extraordinary range of landscapes in the British Isles, appreciate the fickle British weather - sun, storm, night, day, land or sea - and be aware of the extraordinary quality of light which we experience on these islands, light of such subtlety and quality no scene is ever the same minute by minute, never mind day by day.
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62 of 71 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 11 June 2005
As soon as I had finished watching the first episode of the series I knew that I had to go and look for the book that accompanies it and then get to the Tate Gallery when the exhibition takes place.
As soon as I placed the book in my hand I knew that I was going to buy it. The writing is informative and will allow everyone to enjoy not only the art through the pictures and words but the associated photographs of the landscape.
I haven't seen it advertised yet but I'm sure that there will be a CD of the music coming soon to complete the package.
The series like the book gives you those little extras all the time and weaves the arts of painting, music, literature together as well as the romance, fear and life of the artists. It takes you on a journey not only visually but in a sense physically and emotionally.
You want to go to the places and I bet when you do you will take this book and trace the footsteps of the artist but watch out.
Don't do as Gough did on fall off striding edge going up or down Helvellyn. I remember the time that I was up their on the top and looked back to where my footsteps had been right across a snow edge with Gough's fatal drop to the Red Tarn below. I was lucky he was not so take care and don't read the book while you are walking as you may get drawn in too far.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A beautiful gift book much appreciated. Slight disappointment that some of the material was different to the TV series, but at the same time there was some additional material. A book to be browsed from time to time, rather than read through at one go.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"In our crowded islands, landscape has become a luxury." Thus does David Dimbleby write in the opening words to this companion volume, a companion not only to the well-received TV series, but also to the exhibition held at the Tate in 2005. And it is to the latter that this volume is mainly addressed, because, although David Dimbleby has his name on the book's cover, his contributions to the writings in this book are to provide starters to the menu's main courses. Those main courses are written by the curators at the Tate, namely David Blayney Brown, Richard Humphreys, and Christine Riding.

The first essay, `Man, Nature, & Society' is by the first in this list of authors. Brown writes how "Today we take the cult of landscape, and landscape art for granted ... We forget how adventurous it was ..." This interesting essay draws in the origins of landscape art, the interaction between the picturesque and the sublime, the Lakeland poets, Ruskin, and the alienation sometimes felt between the rural and the urban. "Surely", he writes, "the depiction and understanding of our landscape have not yet reached the end of their history, as our changing communities discover it afresh." Brown's other essay considers `The Nature of Our Looking'. He refers to Constable's `The Hay Wain' as epitomising in many people's eyes the very `Picture of Britain', and yet "east Anglia was a land apart, neither on the map of the `Picturesque tour', nor thought to have any pictorial potential."

Christine Riding's essay `War & Peace' unfortunately contains two errors on the first two pages: one might forgive her repeating that hoary old chestnut about the country not being successfully invaded since 1066, but the Battle of the Nile was most definitely not in the year 1795. Yet the essay is not without interest. In her contemplation of Englishness and the rural idyll, she writes how "by the mid-nineteenth century there was a commonly held assumption that landscape and coastal scenes were imbued with significance that went far beyond the representation of a specific location ..." Riding also looks at war in the air, "the most original and challenging [of] landscapes." Riding's other essay explores the processes that made the Highlands synonymous with Scotland as a whole with a romantic nostalgia for a faded independence.

Richard Humphreys begins his essay on `Paradise and Pandemonium' by questioning Michael Drayton's poetic definition of the heart of England, where "now [1622] the industrious muse doth fall." Are not the pastoral landscapes of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, and Northamptonshire also in the heart of England? But paradise quickly led to pandemonium as the pace of industrialisation quickened. Humphreys makes effective use of examples from the poetry of the period to argue his case. Humphreys has the last essay in this book, `Myths and Megaliths'. Ley-lines, megalithic ruins, and the pagan past are the centre of these landscapes, exemplified mostly by sites in Wales and the West.

All these essays, of course, barely scratch the surface of the wealth of landscape art in this country. The book is generously littered with countless representations of examples quoted in the text, and at the end there is a full list of these works and where they can be seen.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 24 September 2010
A picture of Britain is David Dimblebys trip round these islands. It is well written and spoken and very well informed.
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on 23 July 2015
Interesting
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2014
Im English from the West Midlands and I truly love this CD. I learnt so much about my home area and beyond of course I absolutely love this picture of aBritian I knew very little about- In Wolverhampton we have a hidden painter of the Black Country!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2014
Better than TV show
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