We've wondered aloud here before about the relationship between memory, words and space. This exhibition sticks a spade deep in Albion's earth and pulls up some of the worms wriggling around our collective subconscious. Plenty of this stuff you'd expect to find here: Wordsworth squinting into the twin suns of Tintern; Lear baring all on the heath; green men, Pucks, Tolkien, Blake, Lawrence, faeries and Keats.
There's JG Ballard chronicling suburbia's suppressed hysteria, Iain Sinclair's peregrinations through the psychic rubble of E9 and further psychogeographical artefacts from Tom Vague. (On display here is a poster of Notting Hill's totemic monolith Trellick Tower; I still have the original version, given away with the deliciously seditious Vague magazine back in the early 1990s.)
John Lennon gets a look-in. So too does Keith Waterhouse's long-out-of-print novel Jubb, a bleakly comic account of loneliness and voyeurism which, by rights, should have been adapted by Mike Leigh in 1966. The catalogue is vast. Our only quibble – the absence of Peter Dickinson's apocalyptic children's fantasy The Changes, in which the people of Britain develop a violent technophobia and flee from the cities; part-Edenic fantasy, part nuclear parable, part child-friendly depiction of Hobbes' state of nature, it deserves a spot next to Alan Garner's The Owl Service and Susan Cooper's richly mythical The Dark is Rising trilogy, which do feature here.
It's a brilliantly curated exhibition and it says a lot of contradictory things about Britishness – as, indeed, do the British. We're Pooterish busybodies. We're red-eyed visionaries. From the city, we gaze longingly towards the hills. From the hills, we look longingly back at the city.
It'd be lovely to see a contemporary anthology of UK writers exploring the strange set of impulses that land and location arouse, as does a woozy strain of current psych-folk: Songs of the Green Pheasant; Tout. An attitude grounded not in rolling meadows or elderly hills but in that eerie area to the side of an A-road where crisp packets nestle among the nettles.