John McEwen


To be astonished by nature, look no further than Claxton

Mark Cocker is the naturalist writer of the moment, with birds his special subject. His previous book, Birds and People,…

The ring-necked parakeet, one of the most successful birds to colonise London, still looks conspicuously out of place in Hyde Park in the snow

What's eating London's songbirds?

This book, with its absurdly uninformative photographs, dismal charts and smattering of charmless drawings, looks like a report. A pity,…

Portrait of a young woman with a bible in her hand by Johannes Thopas, 1680–85

No special pleading needed for this disabled Dutch master

To discover an ‘unknown’ is the dream of anyone connected with the arts and in Johannes Thopas (c.1626-1688/95) we have…

‘Study of a Velvet Crab’ c. 1870, presented by John Ruskin to the Ruskin School of Drawing (University of Oxford) in 1875

How seriously should we take Ruskin as an artist?

This stout and well-designed volume nicely complements Tim Hilton’s classic biography of John Ruskin. It is the catalogue for the…

Snowy Owl

Toowit-towoo! At long last, a Collins book on owls

Owls have more associations for us than perhaps any other family of birds, suggested Jeremy Mynott in Birdscapes, so it…

Great egret

Birds & People, by Mark Cocker - review

‘A world without birds would lay waste the human heart,’ writes Mark Cocker. Following his Birds Britannica and prize-winning Crow…


Our most exotic bird

The Black Grouse (Merlin Unwin, £20) is Patrick Lurie’s first book and the first ever on the the subject. Lurie…


How do birds fly south?

Did you know the external ‘shell’ of the ear is the pinna? That a woman’s oestrogen level alters the way…

Bearing the brunt

Ostensibly this small book is a jolly and true story (illustrated with some charming black-and-white snapshots) about the military experiences of Wojtek (pronounced Voycheck), the bear who, bought as a cub by Polish soldiers in Persia, earned name, rank and number as the mascot of the 22nd Company of the Artillery Supply Command, 2nd Polish Corps.


Liberating Visions

Victor Willing (1928–88) is perhaps the least classifiable of the brilliant early-1950s Slade generation, which includes his wife Paula Rego.


Scottish clash

Highlands and Islands: Paintings and Poems
Fleming Collection, 13 Berkeley Street, W1, until 5 June


A towering talent

Ian Massey is a writer, artist and lecturer and this is his first book.

Flower power

Mrs Delaney (1700-88) is an inspiring example for old age; also a reproach to those who think ‘upper class’ a term of abuse and that women have only recently had a life.

Romantic approaches

Spectator readers will know that Andrew Lambirth is a romantic, a force for the literary and poetic approach to art criticism, so he is an admirably empathetic guide to Hoyland

The Oaks of Cheyithorne Barton

The Oaks of Chevithorne Barton, by Michael Heathcoat Amory

The sweetness pictures can add to life

John McEwan on the new book by Peter Mann and Sargy Mann

Poles apart

John McEwan on Douglas Hall's new book

Flights of fancy

John McEwan on two ornithological books


Blast from the past

Percy Wyndham Lewis 1882–1957, Design Centre, Rugby School, until 8 December


Life and conflict

Exhibitions 2: Michael Sandle: Allegory and Refiguration

Treasures of the South Seas

The enlarged, updated and now undivided Sainsbury Centre has reopened with the most comprehensive selection of Polynesian art ever assembled;…

The Knight’s noble rescue

This handsome and scholarly book is a catalogue of a selection of pictures of Ireland, all, remarkably, collected over the…

Cheeps, tweets and warbles

In his old age John Ruskin lamented, ‘I have made a great mistake. I have wasted my life with mineralogy,…

Haunting melancholy

As a former winner of Britain’s most prestigious award for painters, the John Moores prize (other winners include Hamilton, Hilton,…

Visual agility

It is difficult to place oneself in the position of the pioneers of graphic art shown at the Estorick Collection:…