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Christine Finn: Back to a Land

8 Sep–4 Nov 2012

One of the most popular publications of post-war Britain was a book by archaeologist, Jacquetta Hawkes (1910–1996).

Hawkes is best known today as the last wife of J.B. Priestley but in 1953 A Land, her synthesis of geology, poetry and travelogue was fêted by critics and the public as a celebration of Britain’s landscape as it emerged out of the dark days of war. Hawkes’ wandering – and wondering – about the origins of Britain's foundations, from primeval swamp to North London pavement, was illustrated by her friend Henry Moore.

Christine Finn, who is Hawkes' official biographer, has used the book as well as Hawkes’ own notebooks and manuscripts to revisit the key locations of A Land, reflecting on how Britain has changed since first publication and presents the results in new photography, film, and illustration.

The exhibition by writer, journalist and creative archaeologist Christine Finn Back to a Land explored how Britain has changed since the 1953 publication of a celebrated post-war book A Land by Jaquetta Hawkes. Still images alongside a rare showing of Beginning of History, a film devised and scripted by Hawkes during World War II, were shown in the Upper Space.

This project coincided with a recent publication of A Land, reissued by Harper Collins in spring 2012.