Mark Fisher

Finders keepers

Isis’s blowing up of the Roman theatre at Palmyra should concentrate our minds: our world heritage is vulnerable. Not that we should need any such reminder after the depredations of the Taleban in Afghanistan, or Isis’s earlier rampage through the museum in Mosul and its attacks on sites at Hatra and Nimrud. A former director

A lofty, lusty Laureate

These Collected Poems, published halfway through Carol Ann Duffy’s time as poet laureate, make clear that she is a true Romantic poet in the tradition of Byron, Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Anne Ridler and Elizabeth Bishop. In his introduction to Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth defined Romantic poetry as ‘the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’. And these

How good an artist is Edmund de Waal?

For Edmund de Waal a ceramic pot has a ‘real life’ that goes beyond functionalism.This handsome book (designed by Atelier Dyakova) at the mid-point of his career, raises the question: ‘How good an artist is he?’ It is discursive, comprising essays by A.S. Byatt and Alexandra Munroe, short stories by Colm Tóibín and Peter Carey,

‘A is a Critic: Writings from The Spectator’, by Andrew Lambirth – review

The following novel re-assessment is typical of Andrew Lambirth: Although Eileen Agar exhibited with Miro, Magritte and Ernst, she was never a ‘card-carrying surrealist’. The origins of her work were rooted in ‘the great English Romantic tradition’ — medieval illumination, William Blake, Edward Lear. Lambirth approaches painters and paintings not through the prism of current

Eye of newt and toe of frog aplenty

This book is a metaphor: a book about a museum that is itself a museum, crammed with cabinets and curiosities; a natural history of the Natural History Museum. It contains collections, of objects and of people; it educates and entertains; it helps you to see the world, and the NHM, with new eyes. Richard Fortey

Counting the cost

An estimated one in three of the world’s six billion people will watch the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. How will Britain fare in that global spotlight? Having committed more than £600 million to prepare our athletes and competitors, there’s not much more that the government can do on the haul-of-medals front. The

Feathered friends

The Parrot in Art? Unraise your eyebrows: parrots have featured in Western European art for 500 years, depicted by Dürer, van Eyck and Mantegna; Rubens and Rembrandt; Tiepolo, Reynolds and Goya; Delacroix and Courbet; Matisse and Frieda Kahlo. It is hardly surprising. Ever since they were imported into Europe from India in the 4th century

Eastern promise

There was a time when Chinese artists walked on eggshells for fear of offending the old men of power in Beijing. Now here, in the China Pavilion that is part of the Liverpool Biennale Fringe (until 26 November), one artist, Weng Peijun (pronounced Weng Fen), is building installations from eggshells. His satirical work ‘The Triumphal