Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
Alison Turnbull and Butterflies in Colombia2018061820181030 (R4)

Colombian-born artist Alison Turnbull explores butterflies in the Pacific rainforest.

Arts series

Art Beneath the Waves20181112

Underwater artists are drawn to paint, sculpt and dance beneath the sea.

Arts series

Balloon with a View2018061120181006 (R4)

Two poets and a composer take to the skies over Bristol in a balloon full of hot air.

Arts series

Hurricane Bells20181113

Bells made by Artist Peter Shenai from Hurricane Katrina data are rung in New Orleans

Arts series

In Stitches20181115

Amber Butchart talks to embroidery artists about their complex, political, dynamic artwork

Arts series

01Dancing The Poem2018060320180609 (R4)

Creating dance to poems inspires two choreographers in very different ways.

Arts series

Two choreographers talk about how they were inspired to create a dance based closely on a poem.

Ben Duke, nominated this year for an Olivier Award, grew to love Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost while at university and set about creating his one-man show in contemporary dance called Paradise Lost - lies unopened beside me.

Julie Cunningham, a dancer/choreographer who now runs her own company, went to the Glastonbury Festival, saw the poet Kate Tempest perform, and immediately wanted to set some of her poems to dance.

Ben Duke springs off Paradise Lost and, in a mix of dance and conversation, with just a little of the text, leads his audience through God's creation of the universe, to the battle with Lucifer, and the final expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. Dance critic Judith Mackrell and poet and dance producer Karthika Nair describe Ben's approach as a kind of riff on the poem, moving between his own domestic challenges and the challenges face by God as they both struggle to complete their act of creation.

Julie Cunningham's piece is based on a selection of poems from Kate Tempest's prizewinning collection Hold Your Own, through which runs the story of Tiresias - boy, then woman, then prophet, blinded by the gods for his knowledge of both genders. Set for four dancers, she sees her work called To Be Me as a search for the individual person, with the Tiresias story as the background. Judith Mackrell feels that the passion and strength of Kate Tempest's poetry are contrasted to great effect by the beauty and power of Julie's choreography.

Photograph of Ben Duke: Alicia Clark

Producer: Richard Bannerman
A Far Shoreline production for BBC Radio 4.

02Slow Art2018060720180916 (R4)

Illuminated snails dancing, sculpted volcanoes and music playing for 1,000 years.

Arts series

Twenty-two ash trees, shaped and sculpted as they grow for 40 years; an extinct volcano filled with subterranean light passages; music for a 1000 years; a mile of writing, and a 5 and a half hour composition for a string quartet, played as slowly and quietly as possible...

As the 21st century continues at break-neck speed Lindsey Chapman brings you a moment of calm, as she meets some extraordinary musicians and artists, to find out the motivation behind creating slow art.

So - how slow are we talking about, when it comes to art?

In 'Slow Art', Lindsey Chapman - Radio 4 and BBC TV 'Springwatch' presenter - explores what added value the length of time of creation gives to an artistic idea. Does it make time shrink? Or does it distract us from our awareness of our own finite existence?

The biggest art project in progress in the world today is the Roden Crater. You may not have heard of it yet, but Leonardo DiCaprio has been booked to open it, although no one knows when that will be.
It's the work of artist James Turrell who dreamed, in the 1960's, of sculpting an extinct volcano as a celestial viewing post. and he's spent 40 years on it so far - Tim Marlow has been watching its progress.

Also in progress for 40 years, the Ash Dome - created by wood sculpture David Nash. Lindsey is given the coordinates to find the secret circle, and comes across it on a bluebell strewn forest floor at dawn, a magical moment of pure beauty - but one which leads her to consider where she might be in 40, or 400 years from now.

Slow art has that effect - seeing into the future, and sometime fearfully into infinity.

Jem Finer, musician and ex-Pogue bassist, has created a piece of music, called 'Longplayer', which has already been playing for 18 years and which has another 982 to go - and of course he knows he won't be there to hear it end.

Tanya Shadrick knelt beside an open air swimming pool, day after day, month after month, writing a diary, line by line, a mile long. What inspired her to create "Wild Patience?" and what did she learn?

Composer Morton Feldman is well known for his long slow quiet pieces of music - but what is it like to actually hold and play the violin on stage for five hours? Darragh Morgan recounts the intensity, and how he never gets bored.

We also meet French anarchist vegetarian artists Elizabeth Saint-Jalmes and Cyril Leclerc who rescue snails bound for the cooking pot, and display them as a sound and light installation - Slow Pixel - before setting them free.

To watch illuminated snails crawl across a concert hall for 6 hours is one way of bringing your heart beat right down!

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

So - how slow are we talking about, when it comes to art?

French anarchist vegetarian artists Elizabeth Saint-Jalmes and Cyril Leclerc rescue snails bound for the cooking pot, and display them as a sound and light installation - Slow Pixel - before setting them free.

To watch illuminated snails crawl across a concert hall for 6 hours is one way of bringing your heart beat right down!

Twenty-two ash trees, shaped and sculpted as they grow quietly for 40 years, in a secret location; an extinct volcano filled with subterranean light passages; music to play for a 1000 years; a mile of writing, and a 5 hour composition for a string quartet called 'Slow', played as slowly and quietly as possible...

As the 21st century continues at break-neck speed Lindsey Chapman brings you a moment of calm, as she meets some extraordinary musicians and artists, to find out the motivation behind creating slow art.

Lindsey - a performer herself, as well as presenter for BBC TV's 'Springwatch' - explores what added value the length of time of creation gives to an artistic idea. Does it make time shrink? Or does it distract us from our awareness of our own finite existence?

The biggest art project in progress in the world today is the Roden Crater. You may not have heard of it yet, but Leonardo DiCaprio has been booked to open it, although no one yet knows when that will be. It's the work of artist James Turrell who dreamed, in the 1960's, of sculpting an extinct volcano as a celestial viewing post. and he's spent 40 years working on it so far - Tim Marlow, artistic director of the Royal Academy, has been watching its progress.

Also in progress for 40 years, the Ash Dome - created by world acclaimed wood sculptor David Nash. he gives Lindsey is given the coordinates to find the secret circle, and she comes across it on a bluebell strewn forest floor at dawn, a magical moment of pure beauty - but one which leads her to consider where she might be in 40, or 400 years from now.

Slow art has that effect - seeing into the future, and sometime fearfully into infinity.

Jem Finer, musician and ex-Pogue bassist, has created a piece of music called 'Longplayer', which has already been playing for 18 years and which has another 982 to go - and of course he knows he won't be there to hear it end.

Tanya Shadrick knelt beside an open air swimming pool, day after day, month after month, writing a diary, line by line, a mile long. What inspired her to create "Wild Patience?" and what did she learn?

Composer Morton Feldman is well known for his long slow quiet pieces of music - but what is it like to actually hold and play the violin on stage for five hours? Darragh Morgan recounts the intensity, and how he never gets bored, and in fact falls in love with the beauty of the music - lie being wrapped in a beautiful shawl of sound.

Slow art in under half an hour - sit back and relish the moment.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

Illuminated snails dancing, sculpted volcanoes and music playing for 1,000 years.

Arts series

So - how slow are we talking about, when it comes to art?

French anarchist vegetarian artists Elizabeth Saint-Jalmes & Cyril Leclerc rescue snails bound for the cooking pot, and display them as a sound and light installation - Slow Pixel - before setting them free.

To watch illuminated snails crawl across a concert hall for 6 hours is one way of bringing your heart beat right down!

Twenty-two ash trees, shaped and sculpted as they grow quietly for 40 years, in a secret location; an extinct volcano filled with subterranean light passages; music to play for a 1000 years; a mile of writing, and a 5 hour composition for a string quartet called 'Slow', played as slowly and quietly as possible...

As the 21st century continues at break-neck speed Lindsey Chapman brings you a moment of calm, as she meets some extraordinary musicians and artists, to find out the motivation behind creating slow art.

Lindsey - a performer herself, as well as presenter for BBC TV's 'Springwatch' - explores what added value the length of time of creation gives to an artistic idea. Does it make time shrink? Or does it distract us from our awareness of our own finite existence?

The biggest art project in progress in the world today is the Roden Crater. You may not have heard of it yet, but Leonardo DiCaprio has been booked to open it, although no one yet knows when that will be. It's the work of artist James Turrell who dreamed, in the 1960's, of sculpting an extinct volcano as a celestial viewing post. and he's spent 40 years working on it so far - Tim Marlow, artistic director of the Royal Academy, has been watching its progress.

Also in progress for 40 years, the Ash Dome - created by world acclaimed wood sculptor David Nash. he gives Lindsey is given the coordinates to find the secret circle, and she comes across it on a bluebell strewn forest floor at dawn, a magical moment of pure beauty - but one which leads her to consider where she might be in 40, or 400 years from now.

Slow art has that effect - seeing into the future, and sometime fearfully into infinity.

Jem Finer, musician and ex-Pogue bassist, has created a piece of music called 'Longplayer', which has already been playing for 18 years and which has another 982 to go - and of course he knows he won't be there to hear it end.

Tanya Shadrick knelt beside an open air swimming pool, day after day, month after month, writing a diary, line by line, a mile long. What inspired her to create "Wild Patience?" and what did she learn?

Composer Morton Feldman is well known for his long slow quiet pieces of music - but what is it like to actually hold and play the violin on stage for five hours? Darragh Morgan recounts the intensity, and how he never gets bored, and in fact falls in love with the beauty of the music - lie being wrapped in a beautiful shawl of sound.

Slow art in under half an hour - sit back and relish the moment.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

03Echo In A Bottle2018061020180616 (R4)

Composer Sarah Angliss explores our deep-seated fascination with the echo.

Arts series

The echo has always been a source of fascination for composer and sound designer Sarah Angliss. She reveals how writers, poets and musicians have tried to capture and bottle the thrill of the echo down the ages.

Sarah travels to Maidenhead to encounter a remarkable natural echo under a bridge built by Brunel in the 1830s.

Dr Rowan Boyson explains how Wordsworth used verse to convey a vivid impression of echoes, decades before the recording age, and Dr Miranda Stanyon discusses the uncanny properties of the echo, a feeling Sophie Heawood was aware of when she experienced an eerie telephonic echo across the Atlantic. They discuss the fashion for provoking mountain echoes on the Grand Tour. This leads Sarah to a grisly 19th century tale about a traveller who attempted to buy an echo in Italy. She contrasts this with the story of Charlie Watkins who invented the Copicat as an affordable copy of a tape echo effect he heard in Italy in the 1950s.

Natural echoes have often been mimicked in music, creating a sense of otherworldiness, and the echo effect has always been central to the world of dub reggae, as demonstrated by Aniruddha Das and Dub Morphology who push the echo to the edge of chaos.

Sarah meets echo chasers Tom Tierney, a New York sound recordist, and Dr Chris Warren, aka The Echo Thief. Dr Chris uses a technique that bottles the echoey-ness of urban spaces.

Perhaps though, the realism of these captured echoes isn't as important as the thrill of the echo itself.

Readers: Suzanne Rayner and Katie Kontoulis
With thanks to the NAMM Archive for the Charlie Watkins interview (2008).

Presented by Sarah Angliss
Produced by Peregrine Andrews
A Far Shoreline production for BBC Radio 4.

04Balloon With A View2018061120180902 (R4)
20181006 (R4)

Two poets and a composer take to the skies over Bristol in a balloon full of hot air.

Arts series

We're floating silently in the sky beneath a giant pink balloon. The passengers peer at allotments in rows, over garden walls, spy a police car speeding through suburban streets, a train curving on rails into a tunnel, a sleepy teenager creeping home down an alley, , a woman in a pink dressing gown drinking a cup of tea as her dogs patrol the garden... and finally a magnificent crossing of the River Avon, bird song reaching up to the basket of the balloon drifting silently above.

Birds fly below, wispy clouds hit the bleary eyed faces of two poets a composer and an air pilot, passing over the city of Bristol in the early morning.

Combining the sounds heard from a balloon, with the words and poems of Miles Chambers, Poet Laureate for Bristol and Rebecca Tantony, both first time balloonists, we take a journey over the city, hearing sound rising up unimpeded from the waking city.

Also in the basket, multi-award winning composer Dan Jones, who brings on board both his music and his previous experience as the sound designer for a fleet of balloons called Sky Orchestra - and of course the pilot, Peter Dalby, who spends his life staring down at the world from above.

For the balloonist there is no friction; sound rises curiously unimpeded upwards with zero interference. We bring a rich mix of propane burner gushing, the dawn chorus, a choir of city sounds captured in a balloon, all mixed with the magical music of Dan Jones.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

Two poets and a composer take to the skies over Bristol in a balloon full of hot air.

Arts series

Two poets and a composer take to the skies over Bristol in a balloon full of hot air.

Two poets and a composer take to the skies over Bristol in a balloon full of hot air.

Arts series

We're floating silently in the sky beneath a giant pink balloon. The passengers peer at allotments in rows, over garden walls, spy a police car speeding through suburban streets, a train curving on rails into a tunnel, a sleepy teenager creeping home down an alley, , a woman in a pink dressing gown drinking a cup of tea as her dogs patrol the garden... and finally a magnificent crossing of the River Avon, bird song reaching up to the basket of the balloon drifting silently above.

Birds fly below, wispy clouds hit the bleary eyed faces of two poets a composer and an air pilot, passing over the city of Bristol in the early morning.

Combining the sounds heard from a balloon, with the words and poems of Miles Chambers, Poet Laureate for Bristol and Rebecca Tantony, both first time balloonists, we take a journey over the city, hearing sound rising up unimpeded from the waking city.

Also in the basket, multi-award winning composer Dan Jones, who brings on board both his music and his previous experience as the sound designer for a fleet of balloons called Sky Orchestra - and of course the pilot, Peter Dalby, who spends his life staring down at the world from above.

For the balloonist there is no friction; sound rises curiously unimpeded upwards with zero interference. We bring a rich mix of propane burner gushing, the dawn chorus, a choir of city sounds captured in a balloon, all mixed with the magical music of Dan Jones.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

05Alison Turnbull And Butterflies In Colombia20180618

Colombian-born artist Alison Turnbull explores butterflies in the Pacific rainforest.

Arts series

Colombian born artist, Alison Turnbull travels to the tropical forest of Chocó on the Pacific coast in search of butterflies. She's travelling with Senior Curator of Lepidoptera at the Natural History Museum, Blanca Huertas. They've been invited by a local foundation, Más Arte Más Acción (More Art More Action), to work alongside one another. But doing what?

The artist is envious of the scientist's work as a taxonomist - the systematics and protocols of classification, of making traps, of time spent setting butterflies and the confidence that comes from society considering science a worthwhile endeavour.

She knows science is more about information while art is more about experience, but she's not sure what she can do as an artist here in this magnificent, remote forest.

She's anxious. It's not just the insects that are fluttering, her nerves are fraying. And, in the background, there's Colombia's civil conflict which has prevented botanists and zoologists from exploring the area.

Although she admires the butterflies for their intense beauty, she's hunting for something more metaphorical which reveals how we regard these insects as part of culture, as much as part of the natural world. Psyche, after all, is the world for butterfly and for soul.

She recalls the words of the great scientist and writer Vladamir Nabokov who delighted in the "precision of poetry and the excitement of pure science" and, amid the mosquitoes and humidity, the green lush forest lit by bright butterflies, she begins to shape an idea.

Produced by Kate Bland
A Cast Iron Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

06Virginia Woolf: Impossible Music2018062120180930 (R4)

In search of the musicality and sonic landscape of Virginia Woolf's world.

Arts series

Virginia Woolf believed that "a Beethoven quartet is the truth about this vast mass that we call the world". This radiophonic feature explores the musicality and sonic landscape of Virginia Woolf's world. It's written and presented by Fiona Talkington, with a soundscape composed by Nina Perry. Tamsin Greig performs the role of Virginia Woolf.

Connecting past and present, Fiona and Virginia duet through the rooms and gardens of Monk's House - the Woolfs' home in the village of Rodmell in the spectacular Sussex Downs. Here, Virginia's fascination with the relationships between music, words and narrative find a resonance in the sounds of nature in the garden - in the acoustics of the bathroom, in a well-loved chair by the fire, in a game of bowls, church bells, the sense of the ancient pathways of Mount Caburn in the distance, and in the gramophone records and radio broadcasts her husband Leonard Woolf would play in the evenings. Leonard kept meticulous notes of what he listened to in a small faded green notebook, listing each piece, composer and recording. Some of these same recordings have been found in the BBC archive and woven into this evocative dramatised soundscape.

Virginia Woolf played by Tamsin Greig
Written and presented by Fiona Talkington
Producer and composer: Nina Perry
Executive Producer: Iain Chambers
An Open Audio production for BBC Radio 4.

In search of the musicality and sonic landscape of Virginia Woolf's world.

Arts series

Virginia Woolf believed that "a Beethoven quartet is the truth about this vast mass that we call the world". This radiophonic feature explores the musicality and sonic landscape of Virginia Woolf's world. It's written and presented by Fiona Talkington, with a soundscape composed by Nina Perry. Tamsin Greig performs the role of Virginia Woolf.

Connecting past and present, Fiona and Virginia duet through the rooms and gardens of Monk's House - the Woolfs' home in the village of Rodmell in the spectacular Sussex Downs. Here, Virginia's fascination with the relationships between music, words and narrative find a resonance in the sounds of nature in the garden - in the acoustics of the bathroom, in a well-loved chair by the fire, in a game of bowls, church bells, the sense of the ancient pathways of Mount Caburn in the distance, and in the gramophone records and radio broadcasts her husband Leonard Woolf would play in the evenings. Leonard kept meticulous notes of what he listened to in a small faded green notebook, listing each piece, composer and recording. Some of these same recordings have been found in the BBC archive and woven into this evocative dramatised soundscape.

Virginia Woolf played by Tamsin Greig
Written and presented by Fiona Talkington
Producer and composer: Nina Perry
Executive Producer: Iain Chambers
An Open Audio production for BBC Radio 4.

07Drawing On Water2018062820180925 (R4)

Louise Morris explores the growing interest in ephemeral art - witnessed but not kept.

Arts series

Louise Morris explores the growing interest in ephemeral art - art to be witnessed in a moment rather than preserved. Traditionally, art is created to endure - so what compels artists who deliberately do otherwise by creating work with a limited lifespan?

Ephemeral art can be anything from works made with materials that decompose, to art eroded by nature or even deliberately destroyed. It could last months, weeks or even mere minutes, but ultimately it will disappear without a trace. While ephemeral art is not a new concept, more artists seem to be experimenting with the variety of materials that can be used to create it and galleries are embracing transience.

Drawing on Water speaks to some of the artists making ephemeral works to find out what compels them to make art that will disappear. From Australian artist Joseph Marr whose sugar sculptures melt and evolve over the course of months, to British arts collective Red Earth who make transitory installations and performance pieces in the natural landscape.

Transient art speaks perceptively to many contemporary concerns. Temporary art events tap into our quest for unique experiences and the desire to be there at the right time, yet they also force us to reflect on our own limited existence and mortality. Artist Nelson Santos believes that, as art is created by us, it should die as we do. He made Transmogrification, a dress of bubble wrap over a wire frame with a heat lamp inside. Each bubble is injected with coloured paint, and they slowly burst over the course of a 48 hour art event, dripping on to a canvas below - all that is left at the end.

Produced by Louise Morris and Andrew McGibbon
A Curtains For Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

Louise Morris explores the growing interest in ephemeral art - witnessed but not kept.

Arts series

Louise Morris explores the growing interest in ephemeral art - art to be witnessed in a moment rather than preserved. Traditionally, art is created to endure - so what compels artists who deliberately do otherwise by creating work with a limited lifespan?

Ephemeral art can be anything from works made with materials that decompose, to art eroded by nature or even deliberately destroyed. It could last months, weeks or even mere minutes, but ultimately it will disappear without a trace. While ephemeral art is not a new concept, more artists seem to be experimenting with the variety of materials that can be used to create it and galleries are embracing transience.

Drawing on Water speaks to some of the artists making ephemeral works to find out what compels them to make art that will disappear. From Australian artist Joseph Marr whose sugar sculptures melt and evolve over the course of months, to British arts collective Red Earth who make transitory installations and performance pieces in the natural landscape.

Transient art speaks perceptively to many contemporary concerns. Temporary art events tap into our quest for unique experiences and the desire to be there at the right time, yet they also force us to reflect on our own limited existence and mortality. Artist Nelson Santos believes that, as art is created by us, it should die as we do. He made Transmogrification, a dress of bubble wrap over a wire frame with a heat lamp inside. Each bubble is injected with coloured paint, and they slowly burst over the course of a 48 hour art event, dripping on to a canvas below - all that is left at the end.

Produced by Louise Morris and Andrew McGibbon
A Curtains For Radio production for BBC Radio 4.