Alex invites us to join in a conversation about “the place of art, and the history of art, in national understandings of landscape now”. She notes that over the last twenty years there has been an upsurge in interest in writing about nature, place, and environment not seen since the late eighteenth century, and sees connections between nature writing, music, and film. Alex considers the term “mixed parliament” for this variety of genres. Picturing Places, a website launched in 2017 by the British Library, puts this idea into practice. We deliberately bring together a wide range of genres and formats—prints, drawings, printed and manuscript text, maps, objects such as globes, peepshows, and jigsaws, even a cuneiform tablet—with a resulting wide date range that currently stretches from ca. 605 bc to 2008. Over ninety authors from early career to established scholars have contributed to the site, and I hope the result is effective rather than confusing; the plural voices and variety of objects examined should surprise, encourage new ways of seeing, and increase awareness of the art historical, cultural, and institutional barriers that have led to ingrained and inaccurate perceptions of topographical art as a lesser form of landscape art.
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