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The long read: Even before it opened, the Dome had become a byword for failure. But two decades on, it could be time for a reassessment

The first inhabited place on Earth to ring in the year 2000 was probably the Pacific island nation of Kiribati. As dancers on the beaches welcomed the dawn of the millennium, on the other side of the planet, in Greenwich, final preparations were underway for the opening ceremony of the Millennium Dome. This was the night when the first 10,000 specially invited people would finally see what was inside the big white tent in south-east London that had been the subject of intense speculation and scrutiny for the previous four years. It had to be perfect.

By 7pm in Greenwich, it was apparent that there was a problem. In the weeks before the event, because of a logistical cock-up, hundreds of guests had not received their tickets through the post. Ticketless guests had been instructed to pick them up on New Years Eve at Stratford station, before hopping on the newly completed Jubilee line to the Dome for the festivities. But on the night, body scanners installed by police at Stratford werent working, and before long, several hundred people were stuck in the station. When the prime minister, Tony Blair, arrived two hours later while fireworks illuminated more than 1 million people gathered in Moscows Red Square angry invitees, including many of the UKs newspaper editors, were still no closer to boarding a train to Greenwich.

There was more trouble to come. At 10pm GMT, as Nelson Mandela marked the new year by lighting a single candle in his old prison cell on Robben Island, Jennie Page, the chief executive of the Dome company, had just received some further unwelcome news. Rushing to witness the Queen receiving the Millennium medal, a specially commissioned honour to mark the occasion, Page was stopped and, in her words, told about the bomb. The police had received a call to inform them that there was an explosive device in the Blackwall tunnel, which ran beneath the Dome. Blair and the Queen were also informed.

About 15 minutes later, Peter Higgins, designer of one of the Domes 14 zones, was giving a tour to Blair, his wife Cherie and their children. I just thought: this guys not listening, recalled Higgins. He was ashen-faced, and holding his family. During the tour, Blair, as well as the police and Page, had to decide whether or not to cancel the countrys millennium celebration, the culmination of many years work and 750m of investment. It was a decision one would have preferred not to have to take, Page said, gravely.

They carried on. The call turned out to be a hoax, there was no explosion, and the stranded guests at Stratford did eventually make it to the Dome for the countdown, despite having missed the festivities beforehand. After four years of politicians and press forecasting the projects failure, by the time midnight reached Greenwich, just as 39 tonnes of fireworks were forming a river of fire down a four-mile stretch of the Thames in central London, it seemed as if the people behind the Dome had pulled it off.

The next morning, the headlines told a different story. The Black Hole of Stratford East read one. The 758m disaster zone read another. Michael Heseltine, who sat on the Millennium Commission, which had brought the Dome to life, blames the standstill at Stratford. It was a PR disaster, he told me recently. A lot of the people who didnt get there on time were the very people who were going to report the event.

But for the thousands of people involved in putting on the Millennium Experience, from government ministers to service staff, the worst was yet to come. For the duration of the year that the Dome was open, it was perceived as a catastrophe. Richard Rogers, one of the architects behind the building, said in 2015 that it couldnt have had a worse reception if youd worked hard to deliberately upset everybody. Twenty years later, it is still a byword for New Labour hubris, squandered resources and hideously bungled planning.

In fact, it was a byword for all of these things before it even opened. The urge to think of the Dome as something pitiable was apparent long before anybody actually saw what was inside. In the final paragraph of Elizabeth Wilhides official book on the Millennium Dome, published in 1999, she writes that its legacy, the Domes true meaning, will only be known long after the moment has passed, when the children who are its visitors today grow up and look back. Now, doing just that, it is clear that the prevailing narrative that the Dome was a total failure is not or at least not quite the full story.

When we met recently, in a country pub near her home, Jennie Page spoke of her time on the Dome with the same dignified forbearance you sometimes see in military veterans. There are a lot of things I will not talk about, she told me. In 1995, she became head of the Millennium Commission, which had been established to distribute funds generated by the National Lottery. She now carried the daunting responsibility of deciding on a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition to mark the new millennium.

In February 1996, Greenwich was selected as the site for the Millennium Exhibition, not least because of the connection to Greenwich mean time, but it would be years before real progress was made in deciding what form the exhibition itself would take. At that point, the commissions most urgent task was coming up with the structure, or structures, to house the exhibition. Mike Davies, who went on to become the lead architect on the Dome in April 1996, knew that once the site was chosen, constructionwould need to start as soon as possible. Four years is not very long for big projects. John McElgunn, a partner at Daviess old firm Rogers Stirk Harbour, said: Its like asking somebody to hurry through their pregnancy in four months.

The building would also need to solve the problem of the sites exposure to the elements. In March, we were on the site, and it was minus four, Davies told me. Whatever else they did, the site was definitely going to need shelter. Standing there in the bitter wind on the peninsula, he had his eureka moment: Lets do a mega cover.

Davies, who always dresses head to toe in red, is still clearly infatuated with the design of the Dome. For more than two hours, he spoke animatedly about it, showing me early drawings like a proud parent with an ultrasound picture. He was particularly enthused about the way the Dome embodied the concept of time. Twelve months of the year, so 12 masts, 365 metres in diameter, and with 24 scallops, like 24 hours in a day, he explained. The concept fit the bill perfectly, and was phenomenally cheap at 42m. When plans for the building were released in June 1996, though, not everybody was impressed. Wonderbra ran an ad campaign with the slogan Not all domes lack public support.

The body zone inside the Millennium Dome in 2000. Photograph: Justin Kase RF/Alamy

Over Christmas 1996, Page and her team settled on a budgetfor the whole Millennium Experience: 750m, pieced together from corporate sponsorship, National Lottery money and ticket revenue from 12 million visitors. But there was a potential iceberg on the horizon. Although there had been a Labour minister on the Millennium Commission, this was a Conservative government project, and Labour looked likely to win the general election in May 1997. If the new prime minister wasnt on board, the whole project would be axed. But if the building was going to be finished in time for 1 January 2000, they had to keep going regardless. That was a terrible period, Page said briskly.

On 1 May, Labour won the election by a landslide, ending almost 20 years of Conservative rule. The mood of triumphant invulnerability in the Labour camp was one the Dome company could capitalise on. As media scrutiny of the project intensified, with the Sun running headlines like Dump that Dome, Pages team put their plan to the government a plan that emphasised New Labour-friendly aims. The Dome would, among other things, raise the self-esteem of the individual and enhance the worlds view of the nation.

Despite misgivings about the cost, the scale, and the London location for an event that was supposedly for the whole country, on 19 June 1997, Blair announced that Labour was on board. Here, perhaps, was a chance to make a physical monument to everything that New Labour Britain would be about: youthful exuberance, unashamed pleasure, looking with optimism to the future rather than clinging to tradition; a single amazing experience that could bring the country together. New Labour really did think it was going to be some sort of quasi-political, sociological experience that would underpin everything that they were about, the exhibition designer Peter Higgins told me incredulously.

Speaking to his party about possible celebrations for the millennium at the 1995 Labour conference, Blair had announced that there were now a thousand days to prepare for a thousand years. By mid-1997, time was already running out to get what was the largest construction project in Europe finished before the deadline to end all deadlines.

Now that the Dome had Labours stamp of approval, the organisers were faced with a pressing question: what was the Dome actually going to be? There were nine ideas for zones body, mind, spirit, work, rest, play, local, national, global but beyond that, not much. Only now, two years into the project, was serious thought devoted to the contents of this exhibition, already being billed by the government as the biggest, most thrilling, most entertaining, most thought-provoking experience anywhere on the planet.

Under the supervision of Peter Mandelson, the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC), as the Dome company had been renamed, gave designers a brief that consisted mostly of open-ended questions. For the body zone, they included Are we what we eat? and What about designer people? Higgins, whose company, Land Design, ended up creating the Domes play zone, told me the brief was very thin, and we werent given a budget at all. For Blairs part, he was on the lookout for content that had what he called the Euan factor content cool enough that his 13-year-old son would want to see it.

In addition to the zones, a spectacular performance would take place in the Domes central space. An initial proposal from the theatre impresario Cameron Mackintosh, involving an enormous stage and a huge cast including children, was rejected by Page. It involved 42 horses, she told me, shaking her head. Instead, the rock show designer Mark Fisher took over. With singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel, he came up with a story inspired by Romeo and Juliet, which would be performed by more than 100 aerial gymnasts, who would be gathered from all over the country and trained for two years beforehand.

There were now 14 zones, each designed by a different company. In an attempt to try to give the visitor experience some kind of coherence, Stephen Bayley, a design consultant and critic who had worked with Terence Conran, was drafted in. Six months later, in December 1997, he parted ways with the Dome, after his proposals were deemed too highbrow. When we spoke last year, in his studios in Chelsea, Bayley lamented the sub-Disney plans for the zones. Higgins agreed that the project had needed a master puppeteer, but smiled wryly when Bayley came up in our conversation. He was so the wrong person. He sat in one of our meetings just reading Proust in French on a sofa.

The Millennium Dome during construction. Photograph: Avalon/Alamy

Eventually, Page and her team came up with something they called the Litmus Group to oversee the content of the Dome, composed of cultural luminaries such as Alan Yentob and Michael Grade. Their suggestions were of varied quality, according to the zone designers. God, the input was totally worthless, said Higgins.

Meanwhile, Peter Mandelson visited Disneyworld Florida in search of inspiration. According to Adam Nicolsons richly informative book on the Dome, Regeneration, Mandelson spent this trip breaking into a run to avoid being photographed in the same frame as Mickey Mouse. It was leapt on by the press, which ran headlines such as Mandelson in a Disney about his Dome. It was so predictable, Mandelson told me, the press thought they were entitled to know everything, and anything that was held back, theyd punish you for it.

By February 1998, the Domes contents were secure enough that prototypes of six of the zones body, mind, spirit, rest, work and living island were ready to be unveiled. The launch ceremony took place at the Royal Festival Hall on Londons South Bank, once the site of the Festival of Britain, the much-revered 1951 exhibition that served as inspiration to many of the Domes creators. This is a chance to demonstrate that Britain will be a breeding ground for the most successful businesses of the 21st century, Blair told the audience. Mandelson spoke, too, telling the room that if the Millennium Dome is a success, it will never be forgotten. If it is a failure, we will never be forgiven.

The launch did not go down well. Everybody found their own problem with it: it was too political, insufficiently historical, too populist, not populist enough. The moment you have a big project in this country, the forces of darkness gather, Heseltine grumbled to me. Davies remembers how strongly people felt: I would go home in a taxi, and this vituperation would pour out about what a scandalous waste of money the Dome was.

Since it was a government project, the government kept tight controls on what those involved could and could not say. Gez Sagar, an ex-Labour party press officer who was now doing press for the Dome, briefed everybody on what he called the line to take (LTT). It consisted of four central messages: Its the peoples show. Its the most exciting experience of the millennium. Its good for Britain. Its going well.

In June 1998, the final piece of the 10 hectares of fabric went up on the Domes roof, and the people involved in the project stood awe-struck beneath its complete canopy for the first time. The Dome is huge; weather systems would form inside it if it wasnt for its Teflon roof, and the air it contains weighs more than the structure itself. It just had this gorgeous sense of space when you walked into it, Chris Smith, then the culture secretary, told me. Charles Falconer, who later took over from Mandelson as Labours Dome minister, recalled this feeling with evident pleasure: I loved being inside it, I loved the whole physicality of the Dome. I absolutely loved it.

Beneath the roof, however, all was not well. Political advisers, who referred to themselves as content editors, clashed with the zone designers, as they attempted to ensure it was New Labour-appropriate. If this was to be a flagship for Blairs vision of Britain, it needed to send the right messages: the content had to be popular, pro-business, future-oriented and, above all, optimistic. Keeping the politicians hands off it was a big struggle, Page told me.

With more than 30,000 visitors expected every day in 2000, one thing the Dome would need was extensive catering. There were to be two enormous branches of McDonalds, as well as a YO! Sushi and a cafe called Simply Internet. Twenty years on, Bayley still rues the catering. He proposed a farmers market; he got fast food. You could have had sourdough bread and goats cheese, he told me. Instead the public had to eat filth from McDonalds.

Pleasing the sponsors, of which McDonalds was one, was of paramount importance. Without sponsorship money of 12m per zone, the project was financially unviable. But what the zone designers wanted, what the politicians wanted and what the sponsors wanted were often incompatible. Higgins play zone was initially paired with Sky. It was hopeless, he told me. They said to us, in a very aggressive way, the future of play is about digital television, because thats what they were launching at the time. Zaha Hadids mind zone was sponsored by the arms manufacturers Marconi and BAE systems.

One of the designer Tim Pynes four zones was work, previously titled Licensed to Skill, which was sponsored by the recruitment giant Manpower. He told me that his zone ended up reflecting the sponsors very particular idea of what an exhibit about the future of work should be: No job security, zero-hours contracts and moving from job to job as an agency worker. Pynes initial plans for the zone had involved visitors getting sacked at the beginning, but Labour party advisers instructed him to scrap the idea because it was thought a recession might be coming.

No zone saw more interference than the faith zone. The triangular, non-denominational design for the space, by Eva Jiin, was met with outcry from religious leaders all over the country, who were also worried that the commercialised environment of the Dome would make a mockery of religion itself. Is Rupert Murdochs name going to appear on the manger at Bethlehem? asked the Bishop of Woolwich. The government felt that the structure Jiin designed looked too much like a pyramid, which would evoke new-age spirituality rather than religion. Jiins solution was simple: I put a plastic blob hat on it, she told me. The hat did not pass muster, and the final design that the UKs religious leaders agreed to was all but disavowed by Jiin by the end.

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In October 1998, on the building site inside the Dome itself, the BBC held a televised debate about whether the Dome was going to be good or bad. All the participants wore hi-vis jackets and hard hats. While the children in the audience looked on nonplussed, the art critic Brian Sewell jabbed his finger at the Domes director of operations, Ken Robinson, and demanded repeatedly: Tell us what is in it. Robinson declined, and the rumour mill continued to turn. I remember that in the years before the opening, when I was about seven years old, my school playground in London was abuzz with talk of what might be inside. More than one person I know remembers hearing that there was going to be an anti-gravity chamber.

Six months before the grand opening, details of all 14 zones were finally made public. The money zone featured a tunnel made of 50 banknotes behind glass amounting to 1m, and an invitation to guests to go on a million-pound spending spree with virtual cash. At the our town story zone, schools from around the country were invited to put on performances about their local area. These were strictly limited to 20 minutes each. (Nicolson quotes Robert Warner, the head of the Domes live events, as saying at the time that they didnt want a three-hour opera about Grimsby.) The body zone would allow visitors to walk through the inside of a human body, complete with moving organs and animatronic pubic lice.

During the final months of preparations, the Dome attracted yet more sceptical comment. JG Ballard wrote in the New Statesman that the building resembled a sinister abattoir disguised as a circus tent. According to Page, those months were a frightful rush, and it was made much worse by the government changing the policy about ticketing, 10 months before we opened. She whispered 10 months again and shook her hands at the ceiling in disbelief. Falconer had decided to give away 1 million free tickets to schoolchildren, an idea that was not in the business model. But the Dome was the property of the nation, Falconer told me. We wanted as many school children as possible to come.

As the Dome finally began to take shape, the conceptual weakness of the experience was becoming increasingly clear. It was, after all, pretty difficult to deliver an experience for the nation a grand day out that could, in some way or other, delight every single person in Britain, while staying within budget, keeping the sponsors happy, pleasing the press and embodying the governments preferred vision for the future of the country. The Dome needed to be educational, but fun. Accessible yet challenging. Entertaining for children, stimulating for adults. It had to be the greatest show on earth, but also serve as an advertisement for sponsors like Boots the chemist.

As with any big project, the final weeks were chaotic. With just a few weeks to go until opening night, Tim Pyne was working on the worlds largest billboard about as tall as a four storey house and as wide as a Boeing 747 which would form the outside of the learn zone. It was a photograph of Richmond Park, which was being printed in a special facility in Iceland because of its enormous size. The printers called Pyne to ask whether the naked man in the woods, visible in the photograph at its full size, was a deliberate inclusion. Pyne had to make clear that the flasher was an unintentional feature, and that the whole billboard would need to be reprinted. Elsewhere, glass pillars for the faith zone languished in Paris, incomplete, and the dark brown paint on the pubic hairs for the body zone had been chipped off in transit.

I asked Ray Winkler, who worked on the Domes central show, what the mood was like in those last few weeks. Oh you know, he replied. Mild panic? Sheer panic?

I think I probably had a breakdown, said Pyne.

On 1 January 2000, when the Dome finally threw open its doors to the public, what did the people involved think of what they saw? Some remember enjoying the exhibition, but Michael Heseltine paused before choosing his words: I think that we could have done a better job. Chris Smith told me that the content was worthy. Simon Jenkins, who was on the Millennium Commission, said it was dull. Bayley noted that the Dome was, in a sense, quite impressive. He added: You could spend 750m on a pile of horseshit and it would be impressive, but would it be worth the money?

Soon reports were emerging that turnout was low. In certain parts of the Dome, though, the problem was too many visitors at once. Queues for the body zone spiralled up to two hours long. In one sense, wed overhyped it, Page admitted of that exhibit. In early February, it was announced that in the previous month, the Dome had welcomed less than half the number of visitors required to break even. Page was asked to resign, something that few people I spoke to think was fair. Ive never seen anybody so dedicated in my life, Mike Davies told me, and Im prepared to say in public that I think she was the scapegoat.

By aiming for 12 million visitors, the company behind the Dome created the impossible criteria by which its success would be judged. The combined number of tickets sold for Alton Towers, Madame Tussauds and the London Eye in 2000 was 8m. As the actual number of visitors began to look more like half their projection, the Dome team were forced back to the Millennium Commission to ask for emergency funding three separate times over the course of the year.

After Pages resignation, the man hired to rescue the Dome was PY Gerbeau, an infectiously optimistic ex-Eurodisney executive who wore suits slightly too big for him and rode around the Dome on a micro-scooter. Newspapers nicknamed him the Gerbil. I do not think, Falconer began to laugh, and this is our fault, not his, that he quite had an understanding of the scale of the problem. Gerbeau seemed to have grasped it by the time he left in 2001, at least, when he told the New Yorker magazine that the 12 million visitors estimation was one of the two or three stupidest things I have ever heard.

Gerbeaus main job was damage limitation. He reduced ticket prices, and brought in a funfair around the edge of the Dome in the summer, and a skating rink in the winter. In the face of adversity, the marketing team for the Dome gamely attempted to turn the ever-worsening reputation to its advantage. Adverts ran of disappointed children asking their parents why they never went to the Dome, with a voiceover saying The Millennium Experience at the Dome is closing for ever. Maybe youll love it maybe you wont. Why not come and decide for yourself, while you still can?

One set of visitors the Dome company could have done without was a gang of would-be thieves who drove a JCB digger into the side of the Dome one day in November, in a failed attempt to steal the Millennium Star, a large gemstone that the diamond company De Beers had contributed to the money zone. Adam Liversage, a press officer at the Dome, was asked about it by a journalist a few weeks later. In any other press office, something like that would be the story of a lifetime, he replied. But here it was just a question of, OK, Ill go and take a look. Shortly afterwards, JCB ran an advert featuring a picture of one of their diggers with the tag line the only thing that worked to plan.

The Dome closed, with relatively little fanfare, at 6pm on 31 December 2000. Blair had appeared on BBC Ones Breakfast with Frost a few months earlier, and admitted: If I had known then what I know now about governments trying to run a visitor attraction it was too ambitious. At the end of Nicolsons book, he describes the organisers, under constant attack and fighting an uphill battle to deliver the project, as throwing a dance on Omaha beach. Its an expression Ive never forgotten, Page said.

Peter Mandelson, John Prescott and Tony Blair attending the topping out ceremony at the Millennium Dome in 1998. Photograph: Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Alamy

In February 2001, a public auction for the Domes contents was held at the site. One of the most eye-catching lots, a six-foot plastic hamster, went for 3,700 to a man named Brent Pollard, to furnish a visitor attraction he ran in Kent. These days, Millie short for millennium, as the local Kent schoolchildren named her resides in a warehouse near the town of Sandwich, along with a large collection of military vehicles owned by Rex Cadman, a friend of Pollards who accompanied him to the auction.

Shes just lovely, Cadman said proudly, as we stood in front of the slightly chipped fibre-glass figure a few weeks ago. The warehouse also contains a number of other Dome items that Cadman picked up at the auction, including a large oil painting of Blackadder, who featured in a specially commissioned film shown at the Dome. Having spent several months researching how these objects came into existence, I felt strangely humbled by seeing them preserved there, as if I was in the presence of artefacts from some once mighty civilisation. An alien, presented with only these objects as evidence, would have to assume that the civilisation that produced them was naively optimistic, concerned primarily with jolly novelties and with no coherent sense of style whatsoever.

Perhaps the most recognisable element of the Millennium Experience, the outer shell of the body zone, was too big to be sold in its entirety, although tiles from its surface were used as the bidding paddles at the auction. In the end, the body was eventually dumped in a hole near the Dome as landfill. Higgins told me that the feeling was just get it done, and then line up the skips.

The Dome lay empty, a ruin before its time, for 18 months while the government struggled to find it a future. Proposals for the buildings afterlife included a super casino, a business park and a stadium for Charlton Athletic. In May 2001, on the morning of Labours manifesto launch, the leader of the Conservative party, William Hague, stood outside the Dome to deliver a short speech. This Teflon tent, he said, is the ultimate monument to Labour, and today they both stand empty.

It wasnt until a year later, in May 2002, that the US entertainment company AEG stepped in to purchase the building. The deal was that AEG would invest hundreds of millions of pounds into redeveloping the site as a music venue, later to be named the O2 Arena, and give the government 15% of its profits. The site itself was sold for 1.

I guess they didnt really have any other alternative, Alex Hill, the present head of AEG Europe told me as he showed me around the O2 late last year, but I think the vast majority of people did not believe that something would be created of this level of success. The O2 Arena opened its doors in 2007, and has been the most popular music venue in the world every year since.

Mike Daviess versatile building adapted well to its new purposes. Apart from the 20,000-seat live music and sports venue, the Dome now houses an outlet shopping centre, an indoor trampoline park and a bowling alley. There is also a pop-up football experience where you can play against a virtual goalie, just as you could in Higgins play zone 20 years earlier.

The success of the O2 is the most obvious vestige of the Millennium Experience, and the one that people involved in the Dome are most keen to emphasise. Its a brilliant success, Mandelson told me a number of times during our conversation. Im not going to look you in the eye and say that this is what we always intended, said Heseltine, but weve taken a lot of stick and, well, Im going to take a bit of credit.

It was undoubtedly an expensive way of doing it, but the Dome did give some badly needed new life to the Greenwich peninsula. By 1998, Greenwich had one of the highest levels of unemployment in the country. Regeneration was one of the Millennium Commissions key considerations when choosing the site. When I mentioned this to Heseltine, he suddenly lit up. I was absolutely clear that we needed to use this as a regenerative process, he said. I have no apologies for that.

Mabel performing at the Brits in February 2020. The annual award show has been held at the O2 Arena since 2011. Photograph: JM Enternational/Rex/Shutterstock

On the December afternoon when I visited, as part of an Up at the O2 tour, I climbed on to the roof of Dome, just as the sun was setting. From the apex of the Domes curve, the entire peninsula is visible, a landscape that has transformed during the past two decades. When the construction workers building the Dome looked out from this point in the late 90s, they would have had an uninterrupted view of the Thames looping around them. Today, that great sweeping view is partially obscured by an Intercontinental hotel, several new blocks of flats and Ravensbourne University, which relocated to Greenwich peninsula in 2010.

Before the Dome was built, the peninsula was empty of buildings and covered with toxic soil from the gasworks that had closed back in 1976. Today, the land has been detoxified and the Dome continues to create jobs for local people. But the regeneration is still far from perfect. Unemployment rates remain relatively high, and although more affordable housing was built in Greenwich between 2012 and 2016 than in any other London borough, the figure was still only 40%, even as new developers throw up luxury apartment blocks. A Chinese company called Knight Dragon has secured planning permission for 15,000 more homes on the peninsula, and a design district of artists studios and shops.

There have been other, less visible legacies. Matt Costain, who played the lead role of Sky Boy in the Domes central show, told me that the performers training programme created an entire industry of circus and acrobatics in the UK. I meet domies all the time, he told me. Some of those people are now Cirque du Soleils top troubleshooting clowns. Many of the performers who trained at the Dome went on to perform in that much more successful act of nation branding, the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.

Like the Olympics, the Dome has left a firm imprint in the national imagination. It is remembered as a white elephant, a cautionary tale. But the truth is that this doesnt match up with the visitor response at the time. Independent visitor approval polls carried out by Mori showed as many as 90% of the 6 million people who visited the Dome enjoyed themselves. The thing wasnt built for architects, it was built for the public, said Mandelson. It was for families.

Children in particular loved the Dome, as the people who were in charge are quick to affirm. Lord Falconer told me he went a staggering 57 times with his family, a fact I confirmed with his daughter Rose, who was nine-turning-10 in 2000. Its funny, she told me, because we did go about 50 times, and we loved it, but when I think about the Dome even I think of it as a complete disaster.

For this piece, I spoke to people from all over the country who remember going as children. Some didnt enjoy themselves, of course. Many remember being frightened of the body zones beating heart. But most remembered visiting the Dome as a vivid, strange and invigorating occasion. They told me about the thrill of going to London, of seeing a digital camera for the first time, of feeling part of something bigger than themselves, of excitement about the future they were stepping into, and of dreaming about the Dome even now. One person who visited from south Wales aged 12 told me that she remembers not understanding at the time why the papers were calling it a failure. I was blissfully unaware of the politics behind it, she said. I had a great time.

The Domes less than glorious reputation is a source of regret for some. One of the things that makes me crossest, when I admit to being cross, Page confessed, is that so many people who worked on the Dome, who were so good, have not been allowed to feel good about themselves. Falconer feels the same. It was the failure of the politician, he said, pointing to himself, not the failure of the people working in the Dome. It is, however, difficult to know how it could have gone differently. Page told me that, in her view, much of the negative press was to do with the influence of politics on the Dome. But on the other hand, she said, Without the politics, it would never have happened.

The creators of the Dome set out to provide an experience that would unite the country. In a way, they succeeded. There is something unifying, and typically British, in our collective enthusiasm for enshrining the memory of the Dome as being a bit shit, be that memory accurate or not. It may well be that this same sort of national unity in disdain will repeat itself in the near future. In 2018, Theresa May announced plans for a 120m Festival of Brexit Britain, now renamed Festival 2022, showcasing the best of the UKs talent in business, technology, arts and sport. Planning is going ahead, and the festivals head, Martin Green, expects to announce a programme by the end of 2021. Oh for Gods sake, said Heseltine, rolling his eyes when I mentioned the festival. Put it in Dover and everyone can go before they leave.

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Co-founder of avant garde and experimental groups dies after long illness, leaving behind complicated legacy

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, co-founder of avant-garde band Throbbing Gristle and leader of Psychic TV, has died aged 70, according to reports from their family.

Genesis daughters, Genesse and Caresse, stated their parent, who used s/he as a pronoun, died on 14 March, issuing the following statement via social media:

Dear friends, family and loving supporters, it is with very heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved father, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. S/he had been battling leukaemia for two and a half years and dropped her body early this morning, Saturday 14th March, 2020. S/he will be laid to rest with h/er other half, Jacqueline Lady Jaye Breyer who left us in 2007, where they will be re-united.

P-Orridge had been diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia in 2017, and in recent years had been touring farewell shows with Psychic TV, last playing in London and Berlin in 2018.

Born as Neil Andrew Megson in Manchester, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge grew up in Essex. S/he was a member of radical art collective COUM Transmissions in the late 1960s, and went on to form Throbbing Gristle with Cosey Fanni Tutti, Peter Christopherson and Chris Carter. The bands three albums in the late 70s were considered landmarks of the industrial scene.

Godstar, Psychic TVs tribute to Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, came closest to delivering a pop anthem from an artist who had helped pioneer industrial sounds and then adopted trappings of psychedelia.

Godstar – Psychic TV

In recent years, the nature of P-Orridges work in Throbbing Gristle has been re-examined after Cosey Fanni Tuttis biography revealed more about their relationship, and the sometimes physical danger she felt she was in while working in the collective. She claimed that at one point s/he nearly killed her, throwing a breeze block at her from a balcony, narrowly missing her head. P-Orridge always denied the allegations.

In 1993, P-Orridge and second wife, Lady Jaye, devised the Pandrogeny Project. They received body modification surgery to resemble one another as a single being named Breyer P-Orridge and adopted gender neutral pronouns. Lady Jaye died in 2007, and P-Orridge continued to identify as part of their pandrogynous being for the rest of their life.

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Greenes daring, sustainable designs, most famously his Oklahoma prairie home, provided radical alternatives to European models. Now 90, he reflects on his work

It starts for me, and for others intrigued by the work of Herb Greene with a house shaped like a chicken. On the windblown plains of Oklahoma, as framed in a small number of photographs, this strange creature stands, feathered with wood, huddled but proud, both of its place and alien, the repeating slanted lines of its planks echoing those of the tall grasses around it. Odd wattles hang from its head. A jaunty steel and aluminium car port, like something from a 1950s motel, takes a running jump at its flank, then morphs into an angular peak that surmounts the whole composition.

The Prairie House, built for Greene and his young family in 1961, pops up from time to time in architecture books, usually presented as a diverting proposition, an image of a future not chosen. Clearly something is going on, but what, exactly? With a book, Renegades, about the school of which Greene was part, coming out this month, it seemed like a good occasion to ask him.

I was trying to make it poignant, says Greene, now 90 and living in California, via Skype. I was reading Alfred North Whitehead, a genius philosopher, who showed how some event like your shoelace could relate to another, like the moon. I wanted to refer to diverse feelings. And so the house is intensely personal and individual while also connecting to the extra-human. I wanted it to look like it really came from Oklahoma, he says. I wanted to make it like a creature that hung over the prairie. Its not supposed to look like poultry, exactly, more some non-specific beast: I dont much like it being called a chicken, but Ill take it.

You cant talk to Greene, or about him, without also talking about the dazzlingly original Bruce Goff, an omnivore of crosscultural inspirations he loved Gaud, Debussy, Japanese prints, Balinese music a man who could collage boulders and oil rig parts into architecture that felt both archaic and futuristic. From 1943 to 55, Goff ran the School of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma, in accordance with his belief that education should be a matter of bringing something creative and individual out of the student. He also wanted to draw on American sources the landscape, Native American art, the pioneer spirit more than imitate European models.

Greene, on first learning about Goff in an architectural journal, immediately upped and left his architectural studies in Syracuse, New York, and headed off to Oklahoma. I met my very first genius, he says. When he moved his eyes, it was special. Greene hated the way that, on the east coast, architecture schools had to follow one or another modernist master. Harvard followed Gropius, he says. The Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago followed Mies. But Goff said everyone was different. Greene would go on to work and teach with Goff.

Greenes Joyce Residence, 1959. Photograph: Julius Shulman

Greene, like Goff, cross-fertilises architecture with other art forms. Paintings in which he likes to riff on a detail from (for example) Vermeer or Cartier-Bresson have long been central to his work. He also learned from Goff the idea of taking individual clients existential qualities and making them into a meaningful composition of architecture. It might be, as it was in Greenes Joyce Residence of 1959, his clients collection of antique furniture and stained glass. It might be some quirk of their character, or something as simple as their favourite colour. Whatever the clue or cue, the design would in some way incorporate it, reflect it and be spun from it.

Since human emotions are complicated, so too would be the architectural expression. The Prairie House seeks to communicate vulnerability and even pain, as well as shelter and wonder. It is timber inside as well as out, with shingles roughly installed by Greenes students, which, as he later wrote, speak of human scale, warmth, softness and vibratory activity. It is a wooden nest or cave traversed by vertiginous metal stairs. The house both wards off and embraces the weather, turning its narrower end westward to deflect the prevailing wind, but also offering a generous semicircular window towards the sunset.

Once, says Greene, someone got off a tour bus and asked in all seriousness if a tornado had hit the house. Some female visitors, by contrast, came out with tears in their eyes. Goff gave what might have been, for Greene, the ultimate accolade: standing on one of the internal galleries, he looked down and said: It looks like pure feeling.

Mary and Herb Greene in the Prairie House, where they lived for a year, in 1961. Photograph: Robert Alan Bowlby

Greene, as it turned out, only lived for a year and a half in his most famous creation. He has done much else in his long career, designing other remarkable buildings, teaching, painting and writing. His 1981 book Building to Last: Architecture As Ongoing Art proposes a public architecture of armatures, which would be decorated by the carvings, glasswork, tiles or other artefacts of non-professional members of the public, citizen artists and citizen craftspeople. He now thinks this is his most important idea.

With the benefit of some decades of hindsight, Greenes work looks pioneering. His lo-tech responses to the climate have been seen as an early version of sustainable design, and its freeform shapes have become fashionable in the hands of Frank Gehry and others. Greene demurs. I just did things because they were obvious, he says. Gehry, he adds, is a genius, but I dont like the work. He has all the curves but they dont serve the structure of the building.

Whatever his place in the unfolding history of architecture, Greene is a singular soul, a rare combination of creative courage and intellectual reflection. Younger architects have yet to find all the answers to questions about environmental design and the relation of buildings to the people who use them. Despite Greenes modesty, his projects still have plenty to teach.

Renegades: Bruce Goff and the American School of Architecture, edited by Luca Guido, Stephanie Pilat and Angela Person, is published by University of Oklahoma Press ($50). An exhibition with the same title is at Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma, Norman, until 5 April

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The sprawling influence of the pop art titan subject of a new Tate retrospective extends to everything from the Muppets to Donald Trump

Muses and collaborators

Hulk Hogan
In 1985, Warhol a huge wrestling fan inadvertently wandered backstage after a match between Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper. Its the best thing Ive ever seen in my whole life. The most exciting thing! he said. Cyndi Lauper and Mr T were also in attendance.

Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick. Photograph: John Springer Collection/Corbis/Getty Images

Edie Sedgwick
Moved to New York at 21 after receiving her trust fund. Warhol cast her in several films and made her a star but drug use, arrests, anorexia and stays in psychiatric hospitals ensued. Sedgwick died in her sleep at 28 following a probable drug overdose.

The Rolling Stones
Warhol designed the cover of 1971s Sticky Fingers, with its fruity closeup of a bulging crotch. Early versions featured an actual zip, a design innovation that failed to catch on, since jagged metal accessories have an unfortunate tendency to damage vinyl.

Robert Mapplethorpe
In the 80s, he and Warhol took a series of portraits of each other.


Having witnessed one of his earliest NY shows in 1980, Warhol created Orange Prince (1984), a series of 12 coloured portraits of the pint-sized polymath.


The Velvet Underground
Warhol managed, produced and art-directed the band before Lou Reed fired him, feeling his management techniques were responsible for their poor record sales.
Id never seen Andy angry, but I did that day, recounted Reed.


Salvador Dal
In 1964, Dal summoned Warhol to meet him at a hotel. Opera played at deafening volume, while Warhol put on an Inca headdress and nervously guzzled wine. After five uncomfortable minutes, a spooked Warhol decided to flee.

David Bowie. Photograph: Peter Mazel/Sunshine/Rex/Shutterstock

David Bowie
Met at the Factory in 1971, when Bowie performed a mime for a nonplussed Warhol. Bowie gave him a copy of Hunky Dory, which included Bowies tribute to the artist. Warhol didnt say anything but absolutely hated it, said Bowies then tour manager Tony Zanetta. Bowie would later play Warhol in the 1996 biopic Basquiat.


Jean-Michel Basquiat
Had something of a mentor-mentee relationship at first. Andy loved Jean-Michel like a son almost, said Interview editor Glenn OBrien. The two artists fell out after their joint 1985 show Paintings flopped, and remained unreconciled at the time of Warhols death in February 1987. Basquiat died the following August.

Fellow partygoers

Bianca Jagger, Liza Minnelli and Andy Warhol at a New Years Eve party at Studio 54. Photograph: Robin Platzer/Life/Getty Images

Studio 54 regulars
Warhol was photographed at Studio 54 with a number of celebrities, including Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, Jerry Hall, Truman Capote, Aerosmith, Michael Jackson and Robin Williams. Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford once handcuffed himself to Warhol after one of their shows in 1979, before the pair went off to the club together.

Successors (self-proclaimed)

Kanye West
Declared in 2013: I am Warhol. I am the number one most impactful artist of our generation. That same year, his now wife Kim Kardashian was painted in the style of one of Warhols Marilyns by Monica Warhol, who claims to be a distant relative.

Im a work of art / Im a Warhol already (Already Home, 2009). Also signed off blog posts as Andy WarHOV and used Warhols Rorschach (1984) as the cover of his 2010 book Decoded.

Banksys Kate Moss artwork. Photograph: Banksy/Southeby’s/PA

Tyler, the Creator
The cover of his Goblin album references Warhols poster for his 1971 film Pork. His Earfquake video is shot through with AW references, from the platinum bowlcut wig to the Factory-style silver-draped walls.

His 2007 Banksy v Warhol exhibition recreated Warhols Marilyn Monroe screen prints, but with Kate Moss.

Fashion followers

The fashion houses 1991 collection sent supermodel Naomi Campbell down the runway in a dress printed with Warhols Marilyn image

Virgil Abloh
The Louis Vuitton menswear artistic director cites Warhol as a key influence. Brands, he says, signify things stored in the deepest parts of our brains as to what anything is. A cross on a Catholic church, or the red and white of a Coca-Cola can; how else would you know how to find your way?

Calvin Klein
Signed a licensing deal with the Warhol Foundation in 2017. Then CCO Raf Simons expressed a particular interest in Warhols grisly Death and Disaster collection, a series of screenprints of car crashes, electric chairs and suicides.

Business partners?


Donald Trump
In 1975, Warhol wrote: Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art, a phrase DJT has referenced multiple times. In April 1981, Trump proposed a formal partnership, with the artist creating paintings of Trump Tower. The deal turned sour when Trump declined to buy the diamond-dust covered paintings, irked that they werent colour-coordinated. Warhol never forgave him, still bitching about him in diary entries from three years later, writing: I think Trumps sort of cheap.

Unexpected admirers


Following Warhols soup can prints, in 1966 Campbells returned the compliment and produced the Souper Dress a promotional offer where $1 and two coupons secured you a paper dress printed with Warhols artwork. One now resides in the Met Museum.


The Muppets
Warhol references crop up throughout the Henson universe: Oscar the Grouch and Telly both created soup-can artworks; Kermit appeared as Warhol for a fashion shoot in Zink magazine; the 2019 Sesame Street Road Trip tour saw Big Bird posing at the Warhol Museum.

Jeremy Deller
As a 20-year-old unknown, conceptual artist Deller spent two weeks at the Factory observing Warhol, having talked his way into his hotel room during a visit to London. (Deller found Warhol and entourage watching Benny Hill on mute while playing Roxy Music.)

Unintended consequences

The selfie
Warhol repeatedly returned to himself as subject matter. His first self-portrait, in 1963, saw him turning a simple photo booth image into a blue silkscreen print, a neat reminder that millennials didnt invent solipsism.

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Whitechapel Gallery, LondonThe death of painting is always much exaggerated as this engaging show of figurative work by 10 contemporary painters richly demonstrates

Representational painting has been deeply unfashionable and largely superseded by photography and video among young, ambitious artists since the critical backlash against neo-expressionism in the 1980s, reads a wall text at the start of Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millennium at the Whitechapel Gallery in east London. This is untrue, as well as a huge oversimplification. In 1994, I stopped a press release going out for a painting show I curated for Londons Hayward, which said that painting was past its sell-by date. Here we go again.

The end of painting is always kinda sexy. With its profusion of bodies of one sort or another, the artists in this exhibition arent so much the walking dead, going blithely on with a dead medium, so much as taking on board the idea that painting can do things other media cant. Dead or alive, painting goes on. Its end is always being rehearsed and rehashed, perhaps from painting to painting. And much of what we see here resplendent bodies, irradiated bodies, bodies imagined from the inside, spectral bodies, remembered bodies, cartoonish bodies, impossible bodies has all come into being through the particularities of a medium. The presence, too or rather absence of the painters Marlene Dumas, Maria Lassnig, Chris Ofili and Peter Doig, who all came to prominence in the 80s and 90s, is felt in much of the work of the 10 artists here.

Europe bound a detail from Daniel Richters Tarifa, 2001. Photograph: Courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London, Paris, Salzburg/ Daniel Richter / DACS, London 2019

Daniel Richter, at 57 the oldest painter in the show, can be funny. Frequently compared (and even confused) with Doig their ways of rendering trees, figures and mountains have sometimes been similar Richter has a more scattergun approach to images: a turbaned Taliban and the Marlboro man having a smoke on a mountain, a naked woman in high heels getting up to hanky-panky in the woods till she turns her head and we see the face of a grinning, bearded mujahid. Im not sure gender-fluidity is really Richters thing. His best work here is a 2001 image of a group of north African refugees approaching Tarifa on a life raft at night, their clothes and faces fluorescing and fracturing in the light of heat-sensitive cameras as they float above the black swell of the Gibraltar strait.

With her blizzards of nearly cohering fragments that assemble and disassemble and almost coalesce just as they are flying apart, Cecily Browns paintings barely seem new. The wearying, histrionic flux of her art, rather like the forced humour of Richters paintings, and the repetitive satire of Tala Madanis little pictures of pudgy, balding and bearded Iranian men going about their salacious interludes, their prayers and their business, ends up enervating rather than exciting.

Unexplained back-stories Feeder, 2016, by Sanya Kantarovsky. Photograph: Courtesy of the artist, Modern Art, London, and Luhring Augustine, New York

In Russian-born, US-based Sanya Kantarovskys work, an ill-tempered baby clings to its mothers bent back like a horrible goading parasite, its hands clasping her red nipple as she struggles through the gloom, with bloodied knees and elbows. The mother here is a sort of stoic victim. In Deprivation, a man leans over a woman, her face hidden, on a bed. She is naked, he still has his shirt on, and it looks as if he is prising his hand out of hers. I do not like this guy, nor the spiderish way he looms over her, nor how his sandy hair falls over his scalp. Nor, indeed, the sickliness of the scene. There are some unexplained, nasty backstories informing the images, and how they are painted.

Multiply-minded Duchess of Oils, 2014, by Ryan Mosley. Photograph: Courtesy of the artist, Galerie EIGEN+ART, Berlin / Leipzig and Tim Van Laere Gallery, Antwerp

A jumble of faces as though multiple personalities or theatrical roles flit through the mind of a single person in Ryan Mosleys Duchess of Oils. In another painting, a bearded man smoking a pipe does something with snakes, and with a number of legs that have inexplicably sprouted heads. Im reminded here of Enrico Davids sculptural tableaux, but I havent a clue where Mosley is going with all this.

Another pair of snakes slithers through one of Michael Armitages paintings, all of which use a cloth made from bark, or lubugo, as a support: the cloth is more usually used for funeral shrouds in Armitages native Kenya. Mostly, the viewer doesnt notice it, but I guess there are practical as well as symbolic reasons to use it. Its unevenness adds a certain resistance to his painting process, forcing him into moves he might otherwise not make. Two young men kiss, with a sort of inner glow, in a darkened room. A frieze, up by the ceiling in the gloom, has motifs of shooting and death, alluding to Kenyas draconian laws against homosexuality. In another painting, a group of men look down at a woman lying in a fusty bower. She is in the pose of Velzquezs so-called Rokeby Venus, a painting that was slashed in 1914 by suffragette Mary Richardson. The woman here is about to be violated, too, by the group of men whose feet stand in a row at the top of the canvas.

Fraught bodies Casually Cruel, 2018, by Christina Quarles. Photograph: Courtesy of the artist, Pilar Corrias, London and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Christina Quarles, whose works were recently at the Hepworth Wakefield, shows more of the same here. Her lascivious, fraught bodies morph and slew, clutching at themselves and at one another in scenes that are as much to do with a disjunctive repertoire of painterly and graphic devices, a drama of forms, as they are to do with any human action.

All at sea the left panel of Nicole Eisenmans Progress: Real and Imagined. Photograph: Courtesy of Ringier AG / Sammlung Ringier, Switzerland

Upstairs, Nicole Eisenman blows everything weve seen so far out of the water, with a pair of gigantic 2006 paintings titled Progress: Real and Imagined. In the left panel, the artist sits hunched in her studio on a rackety houseboat, drawing with a quill in a notebook. Shes all at sea in her floating studio. Great lumps of paint congeal on her palette. Flowers explode like fireworks from a vase. Stuff flies around the studio, someone drowns in the waves, the captain is at the tiller looking serious. There is so much to look at here. In the second panel, describing a ribald female utopia, there are foxhunts with hounds, a water-birthing, beach scenes, sex, death and fishing, and much besides. Hamburgers fly overhead. Painterly, cartoonish, thick and thin, hilarious, horrible, delicate, monstrous, funny and inventive, this is a world without men except for a decapitated fellow who gawps bleakly on the shore.

Another 2008 painting depicts a Brooklyn beer garden, with boozers and bores, hipsters and has-beens, divas and dykes, dancing and kissing, slurping and slumping, smoking and arguing. A waiter moves implacably through the throng. Lights dance on the trees, and death looks back at us through the crowd. This is all enormous fun. A more recent 2016 painting depicts a dusky seeping head under a pale yellow moon. This thickly painted, rough and tender image sleeps oblivious through the clamour around us.

Rumbustious Dana Schutzs New Legs, 2003. Photograph: Courtesy of the artist; Petzel, New York; Thomas Dane, London; Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin

Eisenmans art is full of life. Real life and the painters life. She takes things to another level. Dana Schutz, who hangs opposite Eisenman, can at least stand up to all this with her rumbustious, glaring, painterly images. The roaring comic quality of her work, and their setting on some overheated beach where a man eats his own chest (it looks more as if hes vomiting), a wide-eyed cousin to one of Picassos neoclassical nudes sculpts herself some new legs and a couple ill-advisedly go to sea in an overcrowded little boat have an oomphing sort of elan. Other figures crowd under a beach umbrella, the shore littered with fish bones.

Party on? Lenox, 2017, by Tschabalala Self. Photograph: Courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias Gallery

In Tschabalala Selfs New York scenes a female cop, her gun sewn to her uniform, stares us down. A couple at a bodega stand before a wall of photocopied, hand-coloured product wrappings. Another pair of painted figures, each with a canvas of their own, compete with gigantic red legs painted on the wall behind and around them. Selfs work needs some funky music to go with it. There should be more of it, partying on while painting dies or doesnt.

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Steve Lazarides was the art renegades strategist, photographer and minder. As his shots are published, he recalls the politics, parties and soaring price tags of Matey Boy

One Christmas, Steve Lazarides and Banksy decided to kill Santa. Reject false icons, read the slogan hastily spray painted across their shopfront, behind a highly festive effigy they had created of Father Christmas dangling from a noose. Dotted around were signs intended to lure passersby into their shop, in the hope that they would join in the party and buy some artworks. The signs, however, may have had the opposite effect. Santas Ghetto, read one. Stinking art piss, read another.

There were a few complaints about what we did to Santa, says Lazarides, once Banksys right-hand man. And about the noise. We didnt care. It was a group show we did every year, so artists could make a little dough and punters could pick up some affordable art for Christmas stockings.

Lazarides worked with Banksy for 11 rollercoaster years, initially documenting the artist at work back in 1997, then becoming his agent, strategist and even minder. The Christmas art shop had been rented from one of Sohos last porn barons but disaster struck. Liquid leaked through from the floor above, soaking an impromptu chandelier made of traffic cones. I went to investigate, says Lazarides. It was a toilet overflowing. The crowd at the party thought it was part of the show. It wasnt. It was literally stinking art piss.

Each armful of work would now be worth about half a million quid Steve Lazarides. Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi/The Guardian

The art he and Banksy sold at Santas Ghetto was certainly affordable back in the noughties but it could not be classified as such today. Lazarides recalls carrying armfuls of original Banksy prints to the shop, where theyd shift for 25. At todays rates, he says, I reckon each armful would be worth about half a million quid.

One work, called Bomb Middle England, depicted three elderly women playing bowls with balls that had lit fuses coming out of them. In 2007, Sothebys sold a version of this image for 102,000, at the time the most ever fetched for a Banksy. It has since been eclipsed, with the title now held by the 2009 painting Devolved Parliament, which went for 8.5m earlier this year.

While Lazarides is happily reminiscing about the Santas of Christmases past, Banksy is on the streets of Birmingham making art about the scandals of Christmas present in the form of his mural and video of two reindeer pulling, not Santa in his sleigh, but a homeless man called Ryan lying on a bench in the citys jewellery quarter.

How do you define greatest? says Lazarides. By money? No, by recognisability. And by that criterion, he is the greatest. Forget Warhol, forget everybody except Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Hes a genius. As proof, he cites Girl With Balloon, the painting that shredded itself moments after being sold for more than 1m at Sothebys last year. (Performance art of the highest order.) And then theres the union jack stab vest Banksy designed for Stormzys showstopping Glastonbury performance last summer.

Lazarides has now self-published a book of his photographs from the time he travelled the world tasked with making sure Banksy didnt get arrested or duffed up and didnt run out of spray paint. I had the time of my life, he says as he sits on the roof of his London office, talking about the man he calls Matey Boy. We were lawless and did just what we wanted. Matey Boy had a political agenda that you can see very clearly in everything he does, but I just had a fucking blast.

He met Banksy on an assignment for Sleaze Nation magazine, where Lazarides was a photographer. I was from Bristol like him and loved graffiti art it was for the dispossessed, those of us who didnt go to galleries or have private educations. So it was a meeting of minds from day one.

Toilet trouble Father Christmas makes an appearance at Santas Ghetto. Photograph: Steve Lazarides

How come you two were never arrested? The secret, he says, is hi-vis jackets and traffic cones. Nobody stops you if you have them. However, there was a morning in New Yorks Meatpacking District (before it was gentrified) when a few transgender sex workers took exception to Banksy painting a wall. Some of them misconstrued what he was writing as homophobic and called the cops. Thats about as close to getting arrested as we got.

He and Banksy had various scams to help them get away with things. Once I gave him a letter saying he had permission from a film producer to paint a wall. And I would be the film producer, armed with a burner phone. If I got a call, I was primed to say, Sorry mate, I meant him to do the other side of the street.

The book is called Banksy Captured and consists of Lazarides photographs of the art worlds favourite enigma at work, whittled down from his collection of 12,000. The books first edition of 5,000 copies sold out within days of publication, promoted through Lazarides website and Instagram. Orders were processed by his fulfilment division, meaning his mum and stepdad working in a Bristol warehouse. She got made redundant from the chip shop, so this gives her another career.

Ill never give him up Banksy at work. Photograph: Steve Lazarides

Now copies of the book are selling for up to 600 on eBay. A second edition is ready go and a follow-up volume will go on sale in the new year, this time featuring Banksys work in Los Angeles and beyond. I might even do a third, says Lazarides, if I can find where the files on my hard drive have gone.

Despite the title, Lazarides hasnt actually captured Banksy himself, not 100% anyway. While the book certainly gives readers unprecedented access to the artist, we only ever see him from the rear or with a large red dot covering his face. Still, it is lovely to see arts renegade-in-chief creating, for example, that urinating guard in his bearskin hat, not to mention the row of bib-wearing chimps. Laugh now, says the message on one bib, but one day well be in charge.

Banksy has given Lazarides the go-ahead to publish these intimate images. But that brings us to the big question: who is Banksy? Bristol artist Robin Gunningham, Massive Attacks Robert del Naja, Gorillaz founder Jamie Hewlett, a creative collective? Ill never give him up, says Lazarides. Itd be like telling a four-year-old Santa doesnt exist. If he did reveal himself, no one would believe him. Theyd be like, Course you are, mate, course you are.

All of which makes it somewhat surprising to hear that Lazarides and Banksy dont talk any more. Was there a falling out? Not really. Im bipolar and hes obsessive. Wed gone as far as we could together. There is, I think, still a great mutual respect between us, though. There are texts, emails. We dont talk because we dont need to.

Among the pictures in the book is a shot of Londons Hayward Gallery defaced with Banksys eloquent spray-painted comment: Boring. Lazarides says: That sums up how we felt about the art world. My theory is that one of the reasons why hes the worlds most famous artist is that he isnt making people feel stupid, unlike most current art. I never got into art theory, never did a degree. And I never liked being told what I liked. So much art is about that snobbery.

Even Banksy isnt really anticapitalist the artist at work, with his identity obscured. Photograph: Steve Lazarides

There are so many people working galleries who couldnt give a fuck about art, whore only in it for the money. I tested that theory recently in Hong Kong at a gallery I wont name. I said to the guy, Tell me about this painting. He said, Well, its worth $6m. Thats the art world.

In this, Lazarides is gamekeeper turned poacher. He opened his first gallery on Sohos Greek Street in 2004, later expanding his empire with two other galleries nearby. The aim, he says, was to ensure street artists he admired didnt get exploited by the art world. Know what happened to the kids who invented tagging in the 70s? They got bought up by the white-bread downtown art world and got fucked, turned into freak shows. I wanted to make sure it didnt happen again.

In this way, Lazarides turned Banksy into a bankable commodity for collectors and helped a whole new generation of street artists Invader, JR, Vhils, the Miaz Brothers to sell their work. Last year, he launched Lazinc in Mayfair with, reportedly, a seven-figure investment by Qatari billionaire Wissam Al Mana (the estranged husband of Janet Jackson).

How could street art be sold in Mayfair without losing its soul? When he was asked this last year, Lazarides denied that his artists sought to smash the system. Even Banksy isnt really anticapitalist, he said. This September, though, he quit Lazinc, citing art world snobbery and saying: I never wanted to sell fucking paintings. The only reason I did it was to promote a subculture that was being overlooked and is now gone.

Wheres it gone? Theres energy out there, says Lazarides. It just needs harnessing without snobbery and cynicism. Im 50 now and a boring old fart. But I want to be knocked on my ass by some 20-year-old genius. He thinks he can make that happen by getting out of Mayfair and working at it totally online, convinced that bricks-and-mortar commercial galleries have only five years left. Ive got no overheads. I can hit and run.

Hes selling prints of his photographs on his website, with prices starting at 450. Affordable art, like we did back in the day. I want to use this as a model for how to sell artists work. No third parties. Just me and the public. I can be an art world gangster again.

Banksy Captured is out now.

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The story of the American cowboy is so white, which is frustrating for black riders right after the civil war, more than a quarter of cowboys were African American

I shot this on a trail ride with the Delta Hill Riders in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. The gentleman in the foreground, Joe Wrenn, organises this group ride every fall in the hilly terrain to the north of the Mississippi delta. Ive been going for a few years.

Trail rides are universal in the American cowboy tradition. In other states you might find thousands of people on a single ride. Here there were about 100 people, many riding, and others, who you cant see in the photo, on dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles.

Most of the delta region is completely flat. Up here, though, are rolling hills, which is where the group gets its name. The ride wasnt following a trail part of it was along an old logging road. We had all stopped for a break. People were relaxing, playing music and then, when we started back out, Joe drove the truck up alongside these three horses. I shot I dont know how many frames. I remember feeling so excited at getting both Joe and the kids on their horses silhouetted against that beautiful, late-afternoon sun bursting through. That is Joes grandson on the first horse.

Elsewhere, I have photographed a great-grandmother who had just turned 92 her husband, now deceased, was one of the first cowboys to start organising these rides in the delta. And Ive photographed little kids, maybe four or five, riding around a horse show.

Being a Delta Hill Rider is like being a member of a biker club. They have been riding horses for generations, and they take great pride in passing down the skills riding, grooming, competing from one generation to the next. The riders go to R&B clubs dressed as cowboys and the DJ will play cowboy songs and zydeco music.

My interest started by chance, in December 2016, when I was working as staff photographer at the university in Cleveland, Mississippi. I stumbled across a small group of riders during the annual parade and asked one of the riders if I could come and photograph where they keep their horses. He was excited that somebody was taking an interest. He invited me to a Black Heritage rodeo, which was happening the following month.

To begin with, I had very minimal knowledge of the deep history of black cowboys. Right after the civil war, more than a quarter of cowboys in the country were African American. But I think even people who have lived in the delta their whole life might not know about this. Mississippi is not really thought of as a cowboy state in the way that Texas or Oklahoma are. Beyond that, though, the story told of what the American cowboy is has been so white its John Wayne, the stoic white man. I know from oral-history interviews Ive started doing with [black] riders that this is frustrating for them. Theirs is a part of history that has been overlooked.

Meeting the Delta Hill Riders has been life-changing. I grew up in Maine, in a place that was not diverse. This was the first time in my life that I developed a deep connection with the African American community. I am really grateful for that. I feel like, if people made the time to get to know neighbours who were different from them, it would relieve a lot of the tension and divisive thinking that we have.

Rory Doyles CV

Photograph: Christopher P Michel

Born: Maine, 1983.

Trained: Journalism at St Michaels College, Vermont.

Influences: Ron Haviv, Diane Arbus, Alex Webb.

High point: The excitement of getting my first magazine assignment. It was a huge honour to have someone believe in my artistic approach.

Low point: I struggled to find an enjoyable career right out of university, and photojournalism helped me get out of that rut.

Top tip: Never feel as if youre done learning.

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Attendance at cathedral services are up 14% in a decade. But which are the countrys best?

Britains cathedrals are booming, even as parish churches are in decline. Attendance at cathedral services is up 14% in a decade and that does not include tourist visits. No one quite knows why. It appears to be a combination of music especially evensong fine art, architecture and coffee. In the language of the age, the cathedral offers an experience without a commitment. So which are the finest?

10. Norwich

With its in-your-face tower and nave so grandly Romanesque you wonder why anyone bothered with gothic. The carved medieval figures on the doorway surrounds are delightful.

9. Salisbury

The only cathedral designed in one go, and rather tedious as a result. But the view of the steeple is incomparable, a defining image of Englishness. The chapter house and cathedral close are exquisite.

Canterbury Cathedral, the earliest gothic work in England. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

8. Winchester

Once the cathedral of a capital city, now famed for its west wall of Perpendicular glass and seemingly endless nave, giving way to a Norman transept more like a fortress than a church. The east end is an exhibition hall of shrines and chantries. As Winchester was built in a flood plain, its crypt is full of water, in which a naked Antony Gormley statue stands up to his shins, gazing at his cupped hands.

7. Westminster

A jaded stage set for the rituals of monarchy, but its ambulatory is a fascinating junk shop of memorials of the great and no longer great, Highgate cemetery come to town. Beyond lies Henry VIIs chapel, which, with its fan vault and dripping pendants, is surely the most dazzling interior in the land.

The octogonal tower at Ely. Photograph: Mike Mayhew/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar

6. York

A thumping Perpendicular palace, awesome from around the city walls. The largest cathedral by volume in England, with its newly restored east window containing the finest medieval glass.

5. Canterbury

Silvery limestone towers beckon pilgrims across the Kent landscape to the earliest gothic work in England. A gruesome statue marks the spot where Thomas Becket died. The ancient crypt carvings are both terrifying and hilarious.

4. Durham

A massive assertion of Norman power over the rebellious north, its the most superbly sited of all cathedrals. The drum roll of its mighty nave builds up to the spectacular retrochoir of double windows and weird sculptures.

3. Lincoln

A mysterious warren of a cathedral, looking bashed about and in need of restoration. Its crazy vault mystifies all who try to read it, while the Angel Choir boasts the imp turned to stone for insulting an angel.

2. Ely

The ship of the Fens, its towers best seen floating on a morning mist across the fields. The swirling upward view inside the central lantern is near psychedelic the view down from the gallery no less so. Exquisite carvings in its Lady Chapel still bear the scars of iconoclast vandalism.

Wells Cathedral. Photograph: thyme/Getty Images

1. Wells

Its sculpted west front glows incomparably in the sunset, its giant scissor arches uplift its crossing, and its column capitals offer an encyclopedia of medieval life. Wells also boasts the most serene chapter house anywhere.

Simon Jenkinss Englands Cathedrals is published by Little, Brown

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Transforming everything from cities to the climate, the car is perhaps the most important designed object of the 20th century. Our critic travels to the Detroit plant where it all began

A whoop of exhilaration surges through the audience as a pick-up truck rises on to the stage through a trapdoor, its gleaming streamlined body emerging through swirling clouds of dry ice. There are laser beams and pounding rock music as a pair of robotic arms mime the balletic movements of welding and spraying its bodywork. A blast of air comes from a hidden bank of fans and a dramatic rumble shakes our seats. This, a thunderous voice tells us, is the Ford F-150 pick-up, officially the best-selling vehicle in US history.

I am watching this spectacle in the 4D cinema of Fords River Rouge factory in Detroit, where the whooping audience taking the tour of the plant is being treated to a story that, unlikely as it sounds, has all the drama of a Hollywood movie. This factory changed not only mechanised production, but the world as we know it. Boasting its own docks, an electricity plant, a steel mill and a whopping 100 miles of railroad track, River Rouge was the biggest factory in the world when it opened in 1928. It even had its own fire stations, a police force and a fully staffed hospital. During the depths of the great depression, it still managed to employ 100,000 people.

Sightseeing motorists pass the Ford River Rouge Plant in Detroit in 1941 to look at strikers picket lines. Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

But today, River Rouge is a shadow of its former self. Half of the 1,200-acre site has been sold off to other companies. The Ford plant now mostly comprises a single shed, its roof is planted with sedum flimsy eco-camouflage, given all the gas-guzzling trucks trundling off the production line within. Ford has decided to abandon sales of its smaller cars in North America, concentrating instead on SUVs and trucks at a time when such vehicles have been found to be the second biggest contributor to the rise in CO2 levels. Recent analysis found that if SUV drivers were a nation, they would rank seventh in the world for carbon emissions.

This astonishing rise and fall is reflected in the city beyond the gates. Detroits population once topped 1.8m, scattered across a freeway-threaded sprawl that could comfortably fit San Francisco, Boston and Manhattan within its boundaries. That same area now accounts for a third of that number, along with scores of abandoned homes. The very invention that made Detroit and changed everything from urban planning to fashion design and the climate has also lumbered the city, and the world, with an intractable legacy.

The history of the car is a history of unintended consequences, says Brendan Cormier, who made several visits to Detroit as research for a show thats about to open at the V&A in London. Cars: Accelerating the Modern World represents the first time in the institutions 167-year history that it has tackled the automobile, a surprising omission for what curator Cormier calls the single most important designed object of the 20th century.

The lapse is partly because cars have always been seen to be more about science, technology and surface styling, making them an uncomfortable fit for the illustrious museum of craft. This exhibition, says Cormier, aims to examine their broader social and historical context, shining a full beam on the astonishing impact cars have had on everything from the formation of labour unions to toasters. (One, called the Toastalator, looks like something Jack Kerouac would have driven.) And Detroit is the best place to see all this first-hand.

Mob rule Walter Specks mural commemorates the Battle of the Overpass. Photograph: E Clemens/Walter P Reuther Library, Wayne State University

Driving across town from the plant, past blocks of overgrown lots, we arrive at the Walter P Reuther Library, whose reading room displays an imposing 1930s mural. Two muscular workers, one male and one female, hold hands in front of an industrial scene in which autoworkers confront scowling managers. In one corner, a group of mobster-like heavies can be seen beating a stooped figure on a bridge, while another is pushed down the stairs.

This is The Battle of the Overpass, a clash between union leaders and Ford management that took place in 1937. It became one of the most important events in labour history. Among the beaten was Walter P Reuther, leader of the United Automobile Workers union (UAW), who had organised a Unionism, Not Fordism campaign, demanding fair wages and a shorter working day.

Fords henchmen were lead by Harry Bennett, a caricature of a thug who kept lions in his fortified estate. When Bennett unleashed his muscle, newspaper photographers were waiting and their images, splashed across front pages the following day, caused public sentiment to turn against the company. A sit-down strike, also depicted in the mural, had an even greater impact, leading to the full unionisation of the US auto industry. The UAW provided a model for other organisations and became the largest union in North America.

Nothing to boast about a 1962 ad for Humble Oil.

The UAW played a major role in developing the American middle class, says Cormier, who has negotiated loans from the unions archive, including graphic posters from the 1950s and 60s. One, depicting a robot pushing workers off a building, has the slogan: Fight automation fallout. The same battles continue today, as workers face plant closures across the US as a result of stiff competition from Asia and a global decline in car ownership.

At this critical point for the car, the show will reveal how some of our current challenges arent as modern as we like to think. At the General Motors Heritage Center, a great hangar full of gleaming vintage specimens on the outskirts of Detroit, we find the Firebird, a 1950s concept car that looks like a missile on wheels, with a bubble-topped cockpit bulging from its curving fuselage. The car which will appear in the exhibition wasnt just an exercise in going faster. It embodied the embryonic idea of driverless driving, boasting an electronic guide system that can rush it over an automatic highway while the driver relaxes. Its not hard to see why it didnt take off: these futuristic vehicles were to be guided via radio by men in watchtowers a few hundred metres apart, mapping the best route from their birds eye view.

A little further down an eight-lane highway, we arrive at the GM Tech Center, designed by Eero Saarinen in the 1960s as a modernist corporate campus, complete with an enigmatic silver dome where new designs are still inspected in secret. Just as Versailles was designed to be seen from a horse-drawn carriage, this place was designed to be viewed from your moving car, says GM archivist Christo Datini, as we glide around the vast ornamental lake in his gargantuan Chevrolet Suburban. The comparison isnt so far-fetched: the centre houses treasures that have proved just as influential as a gilded Louis XIV chaise.

Feminine touch Harley Earl with General Motors Damsels of Design. Photograph: General Motors LLC

In the archive are reams of original design drawings from GMs glory days under Harley Earl. As the first director of the companys Art and Colour Section, Earl is widely regarded as the godfather of modern car design. In an industry that had only ever been guided by the functional necessities of engineering, Earl introduced the concept of styling bodies and interiors.

First he hired dazzle camouflage artists, who had painted ships in the second world war, to make bodies look more sculpted. Then he went on to develop such purely aesthetic features as tail fins and pointed chrome bumpers, both inspired by fighter jets. He also ushered in the strategy of the annual model update, which GM liked to call dynamic obsolescence. This was a way of using design to encourage drivers to upgrade their cars more frequently a tactic that quickly spread to practically every other product in the world.

Earl looms large in the section about making the modern consumer. He is pictured with his Damsels of Design, another marketing ruse that emphasised the role of his (small) team of female designers, as a way of appealing to women buyers. As he put it in a 1958 press release: The skilled feminine hands helping to shape our cars of tomorrow are worthy representatives of American women, who today cast the final vote in the purchase of three out of four automobiles. Less loudly trumpeted was the fact that their role was limited to seats and fabrics.

The damsels may have been used as a cynical promotional tool, but elsewhere the exhibition will show how cars have been a means of empowerment, with such racing drivers as Kay Petre and Jill Scott Thomas becoming powerful symbols of the suffrage movement. Subcultures are also explored, in the form of wildly customised lowriders and souped-up muscle cars, while the future of environmentally conscious mobility, and the eventual demise of personal car ownership, will be thrown into sharp relief by attitudes from the 1960s. A shocking advert for the Humble Oil Company from 1962 proudly boasts: Each day Humble produces enough energy to melt seven million tons of glacier!

Museums, you could almost say, are where cars now belong.

Cars: Accelerating the Modern World is at the V&A, London, from 23 November until 19 April.

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His iconic portraits of James Dean in a wintry New York won him fame. But it was his travels in the west coast that brought out his true genius, as he captured the cracks in the 60s counterculture

For many years California frightened me, Dennis Stock wrote in the preface to California Trip, first published in 1970. For a young man with traditional concerns for spiritual and aesthetic order, California seemed too unreal. I ran.

Stock, a naturally sceptical New Yorker who had served in the US Navy before hustling his way into the ranks of the esteemed Magnum photo agency, had instinctively picked up on the edgy undercurrents of the late 1960s Californian hippy dream. As the idealism of that decade peaked and faded, California became what Stock called a head lab fomenting various radically alternative lifestyles fuelled by eastern mysticism, experiments in communal living, and all kinds of post-LSD mind expansion.

And, as the images in the newly reissued California Trip show, Stocks initial wary incomprehension soon turned to fascination. In time, he came to see California as the frontier for a new kind of society where technological and spiritual quests vibrate intermingling, often creating the ethereal.

Photograph: Dennis Stock/Magnum Photos

Almost 50 years later, and nine years after his death, California Trip now seems both prophetic and elegiac, Stocks free-flowing approach allowing the contradictions of the time to speak for themselves. There are images of sun-kissed, back-to-nature hippy couples and marching black militants, missile bases and utopian communes, endless Californian beaches and a towering stack of rusting cars in a scrap yard. In one photograph, a tousle-haired infant frolics next to a Hells Angels motorcycle gang member. To Californians, he wrote, this was all so ordinary as to be mundane.

With hindsight, it is clear that California Trip upends our received notion of Dennis Stock, who remains most famous for his intimately observed images of the young James Dean in the months before his death in September 1955. Stock befriended the young Dean after seeing an early screening of East of Edenand subsequently photographed him on the wintry streets of New York and on a trip back to his family home in Fairmount, Indiana. When the ensuing photo essay appeared in Life magazine, it helped cement Deans status as a new kind of film star: moody, intense and ill at ease with the Hollywood fame factory. In the immediate wake of Deans untimely death in a car crash, Stocks images attained an almost mythic aura that remains to this day, arguably overshadowing his other work.

The icon got in the way … Stocks shot of James Dean, New York, 1955. Photograph: Dennis Stock/Magnum Photos

Dennis was not always happy about the prominence of the James Dean photos, says Hanna Sawka, who directed the illuminating 2011 documentary, Beyond Iconic: Photographer Dennis Stock. He made some quite bitter comments about the pictures, that people werent seeing them as they should because the icon got in the way. Stocks widow, author Susan Richards, who describes him as the most confident person I ever met, recalls that the prominence of the Dean photographs maybe bugged him a little bit, but he also knew that the iconic stature of images enabled him to have the lifestyle he had.

Stock had joined Magnum in 1951 and, the following year, shot an extraordinarily candid series about Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia for Life magazine. Following the success of the Dean series, he began photographing jazz musicians, merging stark, monochrome portraits of the likes of Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong with often dramatic images of their performances.

In a style that was unadorned and intimate, he set about capturing the reality of the nomadic jazz life as well as its drama. In one evocative image, a struggling musician, Bill Crow, lugs a bass across a Manhattan street in what looks like the early hours of the morning. In another, he captures an ecstatic Earl Hines pounding on the piano in a smoky club, the sense of the musics joyous momentum palpable in a single stilled moment.

Against all this, the images in California Trip mark a dramatic departure, though one that had been taking shape in his work throughout the 1960s. The more free-flowing narrative style of Stocks Californian pictures was surely informed by his dalliance with the moving image, which began when he left Magnum in 1968 to focus on documentary film-making. It also speaks of a relentless creative curiosity and open-mindedness that, as Sawkas documentary shows, was not always immediately apparent in his everyday interactions with people.

In the film, as he teaches a photography class, his students often seem overawed by the sheer presence of a man whose opinions tend to be strongly held and forcefully articulated. He was quite a personality, says Sawka, laughing. Sometimes people were offended by him, but the gruffness masked a deep sensitivity and integrity.

Shadow play Playa Del Rey, LA, 1968. Photograph: Dennis Stock/Magnum Photos

Richards concurs: He took no prisoners. He could be harsh with people, including his friends and, the next moment, the gentlest, sweetest guy. If you didnt know him, he could appear arrogant. Richards, who was his fourth wife I met him when he was older and mellower and not travelling so much puts his combativeness down to a childhood in the Bronx that was marked by poverty and family dysfunction.

His mother was a helpless person, and his father was absent a lot because his job as a house painter required him to travel. [Stock] was raised in a family that moved in the night a lot because they could not pay the rent. He told me that, when he was just seven, he was working odd jobs to support his mother. That kind of experience leaves its mark and I think that, to a degree, he was ashamed of his childhood poverty.

It also made him resilient. He served his photographic apprenticeship with Gjon Mili, an Albanian-born pioneer in movement photography, who once brutally informed Stock he would never be a Life photographer. Dennis did not see that as a bad thing, says Richards. It rolled right off his back. He interpreted it as that he would never fit the mould that Life required which was fine by him.

For all his combativeness, Stock was essentially a liberal New Yorker who was instinctively drawn to the promise of the Californian counterculture of the late 1960s and early 70s. The most well-known image from CaliforniaTrip is also the most instinctive and intuitive. Shot from behind, his vibrant portrait of a young woman in a cotton dress dancing on stage at a rock festival in Venice Beach in 1968 exudes all the exuberant optimism of the time. This kid just marched up on stage and started dancing, he would later recall, comparing her to a contemporary ballerina and himself to his hero, Henri Cartier-Bresson.

The hippy dream … Novato, California, 1968. Photograph: Dennis Stock/Magnum Photos

California Trip, though, perhaps owes more to an American tradition of road photography that stretches back to Robert Frank, Walker Evans and beyond. Stocks east coast outsider gaze settles on the darkness of the California dream as well as the light: bikers, anti-war protesters, the disenfranchised as well as the visionary. In one arresting image, a black couple in a parade in Watts, Los Angeles, have created an ornate tableau in which they are chained to the Liberty Bell. An idyllic image of a hippy couple on horseback gives way to a portrait of Anton Szandor LaVey, the self-styled high priest of the Church of Satan, who poses theatrically in front of a pentagram and a human skull.

If there is a thread to be observed throughout my work, Stock later said, its that Im relatively affirmative, Im not inclined to make fools of people and I love beauty. As the reissued California Trip attests, he had an acute eye, too, for the shadows cast by the unforgiving Californian light, the darkness beyond the surface dazzle.

California Trip is out now, reissued by Anthology Editions.

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