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God Forgotten Face.
Photographs by Robin Maddock. Text by Owen Hatherley.
Trolley, London, 2011. 128 pp., Illustrated throughout, 8½
Selected as one of the
Best Books of 2011
Robin Maddock's second book is a continuation of his work on aspects of everyday English society, in the city where he has had family all his life, the south western port of Plymouth. The title 'God Forgotten Face' is derived from the Philip Larkin poem of the town 'Plymouth' written in 1945, and the words 'Last kingdom of a gold forgotten face...'. Plymouth itself has long been an overlooked place, and in the minds of Londoners often confused with the other sea town of Portsmouth.
Long since the Pilgrim Fathers set sail without looking back, mythic history has played out here. This book is about a particular loss of time and place, and an English way of addressing this. Plymouth is a post-war city of evolving new economies, the contradictions are all here: 'Francis Drake' is a shopping mall and what was the 'Royal Sovereign' pub on Union St. is now the 'Firkin Doghouse'.
This book is Maddock's personal reflection on coming back for two years in the town, and a wider commentary on a society economically and culturally isolated since the decline of the navy. His account aims to address the dismantling of the author's own preconceptions, from motivations set in motion through the strength of childhood memories.
Owen Hatherley contributes with an essay on Plymouth as a Blitzed city, drawing on the city's architectural fabric and what it means for its future.
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