Landform, or at larger scales, landscape, straddles the worlds of the familiar and the esoteric, the here-and-now and the distant in space and time, the empirical and the imaginative. Scientists have often struggled to decide the appropriate questions to ask about the origin, significance and wider relationships of landforms: questions to separate expert from popular knowledge, to distinguish scientific study of landforms from its roots in mapping and regional description, or to repulse threats from other disciplines. ‘Pure’ representations of surface form alone (e.g. Savigear 1965) do not satisfy those who wish to progress beyond ‘mere description’. Similarly, illustration is not explanation – although innovations in visual representations of landform did much to facilitate and popularise the nascent earth sciences (Rudwick 1976). By convention, ...