Ian Nairn: Words in Place
Published by Five Leaves Publications
“Ian Nairn taught a generation to look, and another one to write.”
Ian Nairn lit up the pages of the architectural press, broadsheets and TV screens with his incandescent reports on the uglification of Britain, not just by standard eyesores but by the prissy and the pretentious and the blunderings of planners and architects creating new buildings and roads which show no respect for the places they invade. There is spreading across the country, he warned, a blight of anonymous, soulless development, which he called Subtopia.
The least likely of TV personalities, Nairn worked without a script. He was awkward and melancholy, but made admired programmes including Nairn's Travels. He was not just a prophet of doom. He championed what others mock: Swindon and Wigan, even a used cardump. Nairn’s London is still acclaimed as one of the best books written about the city. Nairn often piloted a plane over his subject matter!
He died at 52 in near obscurity. Yet in his brief incendiary heyday he taught a whole generation to look at their world in a new, more perceptive and above all, more responsive way. That is the heart of his legacy.
Gillian Darley and David McKie have charted the remarkable life of this exceptional man, with contributions from writers who knew, worked with or were inspired by him. Contributions from Jonathan Meades, Owen Hatherley, Deyan Sudjic, Gavin Stamp, Veronica Horwell, David Thomson, Andrew Saint and Jonathan Glancey.
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