Speechification Vol.004


BLOG - The Fens

If you’ve missed the first three volumes of Speechification then further context can be found elsewhere, specifically here (for Volume #1), here (for Volume #2) and here (for Volume #3).

The Fens: Discovering England’s Ancient Depths
First up is five pieces of radio rather than one (principally because I haven’t had the time to work out how to bolt the separate pieces together), which feature archaeologist Francis Pryor reading from his new book The Fens: Discovering England’s Ancient Depth*. I have a great love for the flatlands, so I’m looking forward to educating myself further in the history of a landscape that continues to be largely ignored. 

As an aside (an important one mind), I’m particularly keen to add a physical copy of the book to the library here at Weir HQ as it comes with cover art from the mighty Fred Ingrams, a painter who acts (albeit unofficially) as the area’s artist in residence. I’ve long been a fan of his work, as it seems has a certain Mr Jonathan Meades, who recently contributed an introduction to the catalogue for Ingrams’ latest exhibition Edge of Landscape, in which he said: 

“Ingrams nags at the land and the water in a one-way exchange, squeezing out of them new colours, making them yield fresh forms, rendering himself suggestive to this meld of elements which is in constant mutation – if you keep your eyes open: the clouds and the immense sky, the murmurations, the purl of water caught by a gust, the shadow of a pike in the reeds, the distant rain moving like a ghost ship.”

*Actually on further reference the readings were done by actor Sam Dale.

In Our Time – Doggerland
Connecting the first pieces of radio above with the last below is this episode of In Our Time on Doggerland, where the oddly stern (is he always like this?) Melyvn Bragg discusses the “people, plants and animals once living on land now under the North Sea” with Vince Gaffney (Anniversary Professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Bradford)Carol Cotterill (Marine Geoscientist at the British Geological Survey) and Rachel Bynoe (Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Southampton).

Boring Talks – Dutch Landscape Paintings
And finally one of James Ward’s Boring Talks (which have already had a mention in Volume #2) in which Andrew Male talks about his fondness for the “banal Dutch landscape paintings of the 17th century” defending them against those who consider “these sober deserted paintings devoid of wonder”. A really great (and enormously calming) piece of radio to finish with.

In order to bring things full circle, albeit by straying from the world of radio, now would seem as good a moment as any to point you in the direction of Mr Meades’ programme about the Fens, Double Dutch, originally broadcast in March 1997, which sees him (amongst other things) juggling tomatoes on the high street of my home town. 

UPDATE: ITV piece on Fred Ingrams and Francis Pryor – ‘I’ve been sitting in a ditch for the last 10 years’ – meet the artist won over by the beauty of the Fens.

3 Responses to “Speechification Vol.004”

  1. Thank you so much for these! Speechification is a much missed site. And extra thanks for the Meades which I had somehow managed to miss! 😀

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