By Peter Merriman
Peter Merriman lines the social and cultural histories and geographies of riding areas via an exam of the layout, building and use of England’s M1 dual carriageway within the Fifties and Nineteen Sixties. A first-of-its-kind educational learn studying the construction and intake of the landscapes and areas of a British dual carriageway An interdisciplinary technique, enticing with theoretical and empirical paintings from sociology, heritage, cultural reports, anthropology and geography comprises 38 top of the range illustrations in line with wide, unique archive paintings
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At first I didn’t know what it was, but its effect was to liberate me from many of the views I had had about art. It seemed that there had been a reality there which had not had any expression in art. . I thought to myself, it ought to be clear that’s the end of art. Most painting looks pretty pictorial after that. There is no way you can frame it, you just have to experience it. (quoted in Wagstaff 1966: 19) Freeway travelling is approached as a kinetic, non-representational, performative engagement, invoking a visual aesthetic far in advance of contemporary forms of artistic representation and expression.
As the anti-car, anti-road, anti-capitalist, pro-streets group Reclaim the INTRODUCTION: DRIVING SPACES 17 Streets argued in a propaganda poster distributed at their third London street party on the M41 West Cross Route on 13 July 1996: We are basically about taking back public space from the enclosed private arena. At it’s simplest it is an attack on cars as a principle [sic] agent of enclosure. It’s about reclaiming the streets as public inclusive space from the private exclusive use of the car.
And ‘marries’ (to use a term of golf-course architecture) with the scenery. It is important from the point of view of military and of civic society that the road should not be unduly straight. A perfectly straight road is much more vulnerable to aerial attack than one which winds a serpentine course, and a road varied by gentle curves is easier and more restful to drive along than a dead straight line, which becomes dangerous on account of the soporific effect of monotony. (Wolmer 1937: 15) While military strategies may not have been the prime motivation for the construction of the Autobahnen, Lord Wolmer and other observers were quick to draw conclusions.