Art 'after landscape': memory, place and identity

Southern Region Study Paul Gough 2004

Rhetorical topographies: constructed spaces and managed memory.

Paul Gough (University of the West of England).


Toni Morrison has suggested that so-called 'fictional' writing is rarely a product of complete invention, it is always an act of imagination bound up with memory. To illustrate the point she drew an analogy between site and memory: 'You know, they straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for houses and livable acreage. Occasionally, the river floods these places.

"Floods" is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be. All water has a perfect memory and it is forever trying to get back to where it was.' This paper will explore landscapes of national memory, looking at the semiotics of place and asking questiosn and drawing some conclusions through examining a sacred site in northern Europe.


Paul Gough is Professor of Fine Arts, and Dean of the Bristol School of Art, Media and Design at the University of the West of England. His research interests lie in the processes and iconography of commemoration, the visual culture of the Great War, and the representation of peace and conflict in the 20th/21st century. Recent published work has examined the contested memorial spaces of cities in England after World War One, and the articulation of national memory through landscape design. He is at present working on a study of the British painter Stanley Spencer.





AHRB School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies University of Leeds