Best of the Year The Culture Show


Best of the Year

Andrew Graham-Dixon reviews the highlights of 2011, including Sir David Attenborough celebrating artist John Craxton and Alan Yentob interviewing Gerhard Richter.


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This week we have got the cultural highlights of 2011. We have got an

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Elizabethan inspired opera, an England-inspired album, and

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everything you may never have understood about science fiction.

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Coming up, David Attenborough celebrates his favourite artist. PJ

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Harvey reveals the inspiration behind her Mercury prize-winning

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album. Sue Perkins gets personal with humorist David Sedaris. All

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this, and Damon Albarn, on his Elizabethan Opera. Film critic Mark

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Kermode looks at his movies of the year. Plus, we go on a tour of this

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latest work. There I was at one of our finest new galleries, in

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our finest new galleries, in Wakefield. But first, a bit of arts

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evangelising from me. Earlier this year, Tate Britain put on an

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exhibition devoted to the watercolour. It is by far the most

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popular form of painting amount amateurs, and the thousands of

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visitors who flock to the show made it a big success. But for most art

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students, watercolour simply is not cool. I made it might mission to

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convert a group of young sceptics. Watercolour has long had something

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of an image problem. It is not very bold, not very provocative. It is a

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bit wishy-washy. I want to just start with a picture which I really

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like. This one was the 17th century, maybe 50 years after the death of

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Shakespeare. It is the world that he saw, that he knew, that he could

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travel into, and there it is, just caught like that. I enjoy looking

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at it, and I respect it, but it does not get me excited. I do not

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feel quite as romantic about it as you. What do you think of this?

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is definitely a lot more striking. It looks basically like someone has

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been shot, and they have gone up against the paper, and the last few

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moments have been recorded. I love that. It is not what he did. What

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he did was, he made a snowball, and rolled it through the grit, he

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wanted to preserve the residue, so he allowed this snowball that he

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had made it to melt. Now, and have picked these out, because these are

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two of my own favourite images in the whole show. It is like

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Photoshop Turner. That's a bit cruel. But Turner has a really

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screwed-up relationship with himself. He had all these ideas

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about what art should be. It is only sometimes that he gets away

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When I see these, I see the essence of what Turner realised. The baby

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reality isn't actually solid objects. But you could only do this

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in watercolour. There is none of this trying to get it to look

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realistic. It is just this kind of emotional approach, and it in that,

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I can personally read a lot more from it. There's Pollock in here,

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what go in here, the whole of modern painting - does it make you

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feel a bit more like using this medium yourselves? There's a fuel I

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would not mind trying to rip-off. Mission accomplished. My next pick

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from 2011 was an eclectic mix of the old and can you. The British

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museum has been described as the place where the world comes to meet

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the world. The 8 million objects it houses reflect every known facet of

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the entire history of the world's civilisation. For his latest

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installation, Grayson Perry has done his own pick from the

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selection, to be shown alongside some works of his own. I wanted the

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audience to be confronted by these three things, almost as a test, in

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some ways - what is authenticity, where his Grace? What is fantasy?

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What is reality? What is art? There's three helmets here. That

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could be a Grayson Perry. But it is not, it is a Ghanaian ceremonial

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object. This one looks much older, it has just been in my back garden

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for 20 years. And this is a real helmet. This whole exhibition is

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trying to challenge the idea that there is meaning, there is a

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definite way things should be interpreted. On the tapestry, the

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British museum is seen as a kind of multi-faith have them. There it is,

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with all the different names of the afterlife. This is a Map of the

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British museum. I like it because a lot of your work is a self-

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conscious archaeological slice of what now is. This one I made in

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February this year. I literally decided what I was going to put on

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it the night before I came to decorate it. I did not have any

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plan, I just watched the TV and read the newspapers. The people in

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the museum were very interested in this, because as a museum object,

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it is very potent, because it speaks about a moment in history.

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Sitting at the centre of the display is another new piece of

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work by Grayson Perry, entitled The Tomb Of The Unknown Craftsman, an

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elaborate, richly decorated cast- iron coffee machine. Everything

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hanging and build on to this is a cost of an object from the British

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museum. So there is a famous silver dish, the flood tablet, bits of

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medieval crucifixes, Egyptian figurines, and right in the centre

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of it is a flint tool. This flint axe head in his 250,000 years old.

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It is the organ of generation. From that, all art, this whole museum,

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everything in it, all the civilisation's in it... Yes, and

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most of them are anonymous, and this is the monument to that.

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exhibition also spreads beyond the walls of his allocated space. He

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has created a special menu for the restaurant, called A teddy bear's

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picnic. I like the way that the exhibition continues into the

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restaurant. When I proposed an exhibition here, I wanted the

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entire context, I wanted the gift shop, the marketing department, and

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the tea menu, everything. Talk me through it, come on. We have got

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Marmite sandwiches, because this was a big thing in my childhood,

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Marmite on toast. This is the posh version of it, I suppose. You have

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got chocolate motorbikes and they teddy bears. But is this the work

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of art? No! It is part of the fun of coming to a museum like the

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of coming to a museum like the British museum. It is part of the

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ritual of it. If this is a multi- faith cathedral, this is kind of

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the food for holy days. Well, it is very tasty! And Grayson Perry's The

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Tomb Of The Unknown Craftsman continues at the British museum

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until 19th February. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to

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Edinburgh in August, while earlier, in July, the third Manchester

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International Festival featured a host of thought-provoking premieres,

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including the latest creative odyssey from Damon Albarn. Michael

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History is full of forgotten men - brilliant, strange, complex men,

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whose influence has resonated through our culture, in ways that

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may have become obscured. One such man was the Elizabethan thinker and

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John Dee is a shadowy, obscure figure at the heart of the English

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Renaissance. Elizabeth I called him Her Philosopher, and he was the

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inspiration for Shakespeare's Prospero and Marlow's Faust. A

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cryptographer and a spy, whose code name was 007, he has also been

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caught the first English think tank. He's the man who came up with the

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idea of the British Empire, the idea that England could become a

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maritime power which could challenge Spain's domination of the

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New World. Dee lived in an age when the line between science and

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sorcery was blurred. Mathematics, like magic, was still considered to

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be an uncanny art, the work of the devil. I caught up with Damon

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Albarn between performances and asked what attracted him to the

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#Just everything about him was just really elegant, and I'm a great fan.

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Did you see a lot of threads between his time and our time, was

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there a resonance? Yes, the two Elizabeths was uneasy starting

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point. The melancholy score features the BBC Philharmonic

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Orchestra, and a mixture of African and English musicians. They all

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come from a very different sound world. I mean, all of those

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instruments sound amazing together, with no amplification, and it is

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really nice just to leave the amplified world, although I could

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# People of the rose, the nightingale... And Dr Dee will be

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restaged as part of next year's Now, at the Edinburgh Festival, we

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were in the capable hands of Sue Perkins, who met with the best-

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selling writer from America, David Sedaris. Was the reason for the

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mortuary? I was living in New York, and a magazine asked me if I wanted

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to write for them. They said I could do whatever I wanted. I

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always wanted to see a lot of dead people, but you cannot just walk in.

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I guess the most famous job you had was when you started off as a

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department store elf. And I'm Small and merry, so they hired me.

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you have to wear hat? Well, I had an outfit, and I did it for two

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years. Was it financial necessity, or was it you thinking, I'm home

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now, I'm with my people?! That's great. No-one loves Christmas more

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than me, but I did not actually feel like... I'm home now. You're

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constantly writing a diary through all of this, and you do not know

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that fame and success are coming, you're doing it because you need to

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write at this time in your life? think so. I started writing when I

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turned 20. I think I just exhausted every other way of trying to get

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attention. Everyone's worried that the food in Beijing will be

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different from America. It is more real, they said, meaning, it turned

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out, that I could dislike it more authentically. We went to meet Tony

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Cragg. What are we looking at? are looking at some commercial

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vessels. This is a detergent bottle, a shampoo bottle. And you have

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extended it? Yes, and this one here, You are transforming it into

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something magnificent, different, very unexpected. The moment you are

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not bound by utilitarianism the have casualry of form is free for

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you. You don't have to be practical and economic with it. Suddenly

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things happen, the thing grows up into space and becomes something

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that you and nobody else has ever seen before, and have to struggle

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with it. What's this piece called? Red Figure. This is part of the

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Rational Being series? It is. seems that you are playing are

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futurism? No, futurism wanted to have the illusion of movement. I

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don't think that's what I want - I want energy. Even though it is an

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object, it doesn't have any energy, you are creating the illusion of

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energy. Of course it has energy. Only because you imbued it as a

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sculptor. No, no, no. That's a real strength to keep that, to keep that

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volume out there. That is energy. When people say "statue" - static.

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They have the idea of stasis, of rigidity, of a frozen moment, and

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that is not the point. The history of sculpture in the last 100 years

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fantastic dynamic, developing, you should never see the material as

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being something static. formidable Mr Crag has lost none of

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his energy. The exhibition is a timely reminder of his importance.

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Next up, even before PJ Harvey won the Mercury Prize for her album,

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Let England Shake, there was no doubt it was one of the year's

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outstanding releases. The only person to win the Mercury Prize

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twice, Harvey spoke to Miranda Sawyer about the challenges of

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creating a work that bristles with questions of war, nationhood and

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blood. # This is love, this is love that

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I'm feeling. # This is love, love, love that I'm

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feeling #. PJ Harvey is an artist who never

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stands still. Each of her albums is self contained with its own

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particular atmosphere. And she herself takes on many personas for

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the sake of her music. So let's start from the beginning. Where did

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the idea for this LP come from? of the markers that I kept in the

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forefront of my mind when I was writing, and one of the instigators

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of the whole project, was when I began to think. There there are

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officially appointed war artists and poets. There are people who are

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always on the front line of whatever conflict zone there is. I

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began to wonder what the song equivalent was. Where was the

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officially appointed songwriter? Can I be that? Obviously there

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isn't a post of such, so in some ways in my mind I appointed myself

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in that position. # Goddamn Europeans.

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# Take me back to beautiful England # And the great and filthiness of

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ages. # And battered books and fog

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rolling down behind the mountains. # On the graveyards and Dead Sea

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captains. # Let me walk through the stinking

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alleys. # To the music of drunken beatings.

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# Past the Thames river glistening # Like gold hastily sold for

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nothing. # Nothing. #

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You started with the lyrics and you can read the lyrics entirely

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separately and they are like poems. The way that I write has changed

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very gradually, but it has changed, in that I concentrate pretty much

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solely on words for great periods of time. And some of those words

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remain as poems and some become short prose. It has really become

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my starting point that the words have to work. I wanted the melody

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to be so simple that it could be sung from one person to another,

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that it could be remembered straight away. It is that simple.

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That harks back to how music begins. And the tradition of storytelling.

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Folk music was often very simple, because it is just passed on from

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one generation to another. Everyone remembers it. It was never written

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down. # Let me watch my former river.

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# Moon rise and turn silver. # The sky move, the ocean shimmer.

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# The head shake, the last living rose quiver

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I feel like I've just begun. That's the strongest feeling. I felt that

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with this record in particular I have uncovered a new way of writing

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that's just the beginning for me. I feel like I've got so much yet to

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He's a modest looking fellow of 82 but Frank Gehry has changed the way

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we think about architecture. The latest building, the New World

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Symphony Hall opened in January. We travelled to Miami to meet Frank

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Gehry. Once a candy-coloured wonderland for the rich and famous

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Miami Beach is looking, well, a bit tired. But it is here that

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architect Frank Gehry is launching his latest ambitious world, the New

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World Centre. But for a Frank Gehry building isn't this one a bit

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square? Once you are inside it all becomes clear. Here are the great

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Frank Gehryesque sheaths of plaster, its cardboard forms. I managed to

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get some time with him amid the hustle and bustle of the press

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opening. It turned out to be difficult to drag Frank from the

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music to talk architecture. What kind of relationship do you

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have with classical music? I went in just now and heard the music and

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it almost made me cry, it was so beautiful. Just the few notes, it

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is a moment of truth. When the audience comes in and sits down and

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the conductor raises the baton and you hear the first sounds. You know

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right then, click or clock or clunk. And it happens pretty quick. Have

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you ever felt clunk? Clunk for me is every connection, collision. I

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wish I had done that better. I wish I had done this. So I go through

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holy hell. The New World Symphony is all about making classical music

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accessible to all and every concert will be smil townously projected

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outside for the whole of Miami to enjoy. But some of the hi-tech

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equipment wouldn't look out of place in a builder's yard. There's

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a degree of rough and readiness which of course was very prevalent

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in your architecture in the '70s and into the '80s. That is in my

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DNA, and hate to do with my leftie- leaning proclivities. I don't like

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the idea of spending a lot of money on marble. I've never been able to

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do rich guy's houses. Not even my own. Being different was never

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something that Frank Gehry had a problem with. The loose LA school

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of architecture that Frank Gehry accidentally founded was always

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more about having fun than they wereising. That is so stupid-

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looking it's great. It is so stupid-looking? Isn't it? It's

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just... Do you think you've been misunderstood as an architect?

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Everybody thinks they are misunderstood, don't we all? I

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don't go into it is art and all that stuff. For me it is a service

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business. I get a budget. I get a site, a client. There is no excuse

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for the banality. I'm much more critical than any critic, any

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:24:15.:24:16.

British critic could be. For the audience it's incredible. It feels

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a bit like being inside. Right in there. Oh, my God. It sounds like

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you like it. I love it! I want to go back. On this side of the Pond

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British architectural visionary David Chipperfield unveiled his

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latest building in May. The Hepworth Wakefield is devoted to

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the work of Barbara Hepworth and her contemporaries. This is bold,

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modern architecture which feels in complete harmony with the artist's

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work. The centrepiece of the gallery is the Hepworth family gift

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- a collection of 44 full-sized working models in plaster and an

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min yum made in preparation for the finished originals in bronze. Those

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prototypes allow us for the first time to get a greater understanding

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of how Hepworth worked with her material. I like this display of

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Hepworth's tools. You get a wonderful sense of just how tactile

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Hepworth's engagement with her material was, and I really like

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this little circular cheese grate Kerr. She used that to roughton

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surface of the plaster too. She was also a great improviser. The tools

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have become intensely personal to one. The most precious extension of

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one's sight and touch. The big question raised by this

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display, indeed by the whole existence of the Hepworth Wakefield

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is, why did the artist decide she wanted to preserve these models.

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After all, she didn't need to. The finished sculpture that was made

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from this exists, it is in the world. But it is a very different

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thing. It's a large, dark green weathered bronze. This is something

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much more fragile. I think Hepworth, whose life was not entirely

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straightforward, whose life was in many ways quite a troubled one. She

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recognised that the emotions at the heart of her work were indeed

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fragile. And vulnerable things. But the Hepworth Wakefield isn't

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just about this collection of models and a new gallery space. It

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is about bringing the artist back to her roots, to the countryside

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that first inspired her. All my early memories are of forms and

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shapes and textures. I remember moving through the landscape with

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my father in his car. And the hills were sculptures. The roads defined

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the forms. Sometimes I think your earliest experiences leave with

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deepest and the strongest traces. Looking at these extraordinary rock

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formations, thrust out of the soil, it is hard not to think that

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Hepworth did indeed carry the memory of these sculpture-like

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forms with her throughout her life. I think this really is, as she

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herself said, where it all began. Now, science fiction was as strong

:27:23.:27:29.

as ever on this year's best seller lists, but this most popular of

:27:29.:27:34.

contemporary genres res possibly the most misunderstood. The British

:27:34.:27:40.

Library decided something had to be done, so created one of the what

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turned out to be one of the most exciting exhibitions. Subtitled

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science fiction but not as you know it, it presents a series of world,

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parallel world, even the end of the world, drawing on literary history

:27:55.:27:59.

and asking, what is science fiction? The collection has been

:27:59.:28:07.

assembled with painstaking care and gives an overvuef the genre through

:28:07.:28:13.

beautifully preserved illustrations and film clips. It throws together

:28:13.:28:17.

rare and contemporary literature which contains surprise. It has

:28:17.:28:20.

been called the fields of literature left between the gaps of

:28:20.:28:25.

all the other fields of literature. They are taking a wide ecumenical

:28:26.:28:29.

notion of what SF is. This is something remarkable. This is

:28:29.:28:33.

arguably the first work of science fiction in English. It was written

:28:33.:28:39.

in the 1620s, published in 1638 by the Bishop of Hereford. It is

:28:39.:28:48.

called The Man In The Moon. It tells of travelling to the Moon

:28:48.:28:52.

with a harness powered by geese or swans. It was written when the idea

:28:52.:28:57.

of space travel was not invented. You are legal flying to the Moon.

:28:57.:29:00.

And it is written by a Bishop, who didn't find it her et cal to look

:29:00.:29:07.

up at the skies and think of something other than the heavens,

:29:07.:29:17.
:29:17.:29:19.

unthinkable before the time of Galileo.

:29:19.:29:21.

Here's something you might not expect to see in a science fibs

:29:22.:29:27.

exhibition. This is an advert from the 1890s for Bovril. If you wonder

:29:27.:29:31.

where Bovril got its name from, it is from The Coming Race, the

:29:31.:29:37.

original manuscript is next to it. In this novel they get their

:29:37.:29:42.

extraordinary energy from a strange substance called Vril. Some

:29:42.:29:48.

marketing whizz decided to put together Vril with bovine and

:29:48.:29:58.

overnight created the first science The figure who looms large over

:29:58.:30:04.

this exhibition is H G Wells. Here, we have a copy of War Of the Worlds,

:30:04.:30:07.

which brilliantly illustrates what science fiction can do at its best.

:30:07.:30:12.

The story on the service is about Martians invading earth, but

:30:12.:30:17.

scratch the surface, and you find lots of levels, including the fear

:30:17.:30:20.

of invasion, and other things. There is an ongoing debate about

:30:20.:30:24.

whether or not science fiction is taken seriously or smear that -

:30:24.:30:29.

does it matter? I think it does matter, and I think exhibitions

:30:29.:30:33.

like this are important. I think science fiction is a very proud

:30:33.:30:37.

part of the literary heritage, and I want to have my cake and eat it,

:30:37.:30:41.

I want it to be taken seriously, but I also want to be having a

:30:41.:30:51.
:30:51.:30:52.

party in the gutter. March saw the launch of the First World Book

:30:52.:30:58.

night. And we were there to record its birth. The idea was to get

:30:58.:31:02.

people with this is for one particular book to have free copies

:31:02.:31:06.

of it to hand out. It is about sharing the pleasure of reading

:31:07.:31:09.

through word of mouth. By the end of it, a million books are given

:31:10.:31:17.

away. Thank you so much. What does weeding mean to you? You do not

:31:17.:31:25.

need companions, you can make your own. You can travel. You can go

:31:25.:31:31.

anywhere you like in this world. All in the mind. Yes. Next year's

:31:31.:31:36.

event will be held on 23rd April. If you would like to sign up to be

:31:36.:31:40.

a book giver, you can find more information at this website. Have

:31:40.:31:49.

you read this one? I haven't, no. The Spy who came in from the Cold.

:31:49.:31:54.

But the one I wanted a! There you go. I will enjoy that, thank you.

:31:54.:32:03.

It is a great pleasure. Now, as we gear up for the Olympic Games, we

:32:03.:32:13.
:32:13.:32:14.

went to meet a cycle geographer, whose latest book dismisses recent

:32:14.:32:17.

London developments as grand folly on the part of New Labour. People

:32:17.:32:22.

will be surprised, an Olympic bid comes through, an area is about to

:32:22.:32:26.

be regenerated and have billions of pounds pumped into it, and your

:32:26.:32:30.

response as a resident was to see this as a disaster. I do not see

:32:30.:32:35.

this as a genuine regeneration. Genuine regenerations are organic,

:32:35.:32:39.

they happen from the ground up, they are not imposed. You're

:32:39.:32:42.

walking between perimeter fences on concrete and Tarmac, and holding

:32:42.:32:47.

this up as a highway into the future. And this, as a Space

:32:47.:32:55.

Station. So, this is a corporate folly, as you see it? This is a

:32:55.:32:59.

grand folly, a grand sleight-of- hand, an enormously boastful and

:32:59.:33:05.

extravagant thing to do, for what amounts to a fortnight's sports day.

:33:05.:33:10.

I set off down the sewage outfall to Stratford. We had been promised

:33:10.:33:15.

an Olympic Tester, a procession of the torch through London. The

:33:15.:33:22.

elevated footpath is accessible as it passes beneath the A102. Here is

:33:22.:33:27.

the fault line, where the virtual collides with the actual, a world

:33:27.:33:31.

war to pillar-box, half-built apartment blocks, a Lock Keeper's

:33:32.:33:36.

Cottage, converted into the centre of a breakfast-time television show,

:33:36.:33:41.

pylons being disassembled and cables buried. A patch of wild wood

:33:41.:33:48.

is tamed with screaming chainsaws. Concrete producing tunes cough and

:33:48.:33:52.

spew. Are you not romanticising what was here, and painting a very

:33:53.:33:57.

negative picture of what actually is kind of an extraordinary moment

:33:57.:34:03.

of change? As a writer, I'm relishing the whole of it. I'm

:34:03.:34:07.

relishing the difficulties, the dangers, the monstrosity of it, is

:34:07.:34:11.

terrific for a writer. It gives enormous energy. From humble

:34:12.:34:17.

beginnings to fame, fortune and a tragically early death, the

:34:17.:34:21.

celebrity car crash life of an and Nicole Smith was the surprising

:34:21.:34:25.

inspiration for an ambitious new production at the Mall Opera House.

:34:25.:34:29.

She was a Playboy model whose life was routinely played out in front

:34:29.:34:35.

of the cameras. We went to see what happens when high art and tabloid

:34:35.:34:45.
:34:45.:34:49.

trash collide. She was married to a Texas oil billionaire. She has

:34:49.:34:54.

inherited �62 million from her husband. In a way, her story is a

:34:54.:34:58.

parable for our times and our celebrity obsessed culture. But

:34:58.:35:02.

only four years after her death, should her life be used to

:35:02.:35:07.

entertain an audience yet again? Is it in any way morally questionable

:35:07.:35:12.

to be making her life and death into art so soon? I don't think so,

:35:12.:35:17.

but maybe I'm a morally questionable person. We do not

:35:17.:35:21.

trash it, we are very sympathetic. The piece is dedicated to her,

:35:21.:35:22.

The piece is dedicated to her, we're not taking the mickey. People

:35:22.:35:27.

think that we are trashing her, but that was hopeful, because we are

:35:27.:35:37.
:35:37.:35:37.

doing something which is a bit deeper than that.

:35:37.:35:47.
:35:47.:35:54.

# Blow you all a kiss. If she had a different name, and it was set in

:35:54.:35:59.

the 19th century, exactly the same, a woman trying to get money out of

:35:59.:36:03.

an old, rich person's family, living with her lawyer, you would

:36:03.:36:08.

not bat an eyelid. # She comes from the school of hard

:36:08.:36:14.

knocks, she's old school. # Come to think of it, no school!

:36:14.:36:19.

It is just a great story, it is begging to be done as a musical.

:36:19.:36:23.

could hear music. For me, the basic thing is that I found the whole

:36:23.:36:28.

story, her life, suggested music to me, there has got to be a reason

:36:28.:36:31.

why people sing. And I could see a lot of reasons why those characters

:36:31.:36:41.
:36:41.:36:50.

could sing. But what is it like to become Anna Nicole-Smith? This was

:36:50.:36:54.

the soprano who took up the challenge. She did all of these

:36:54.:36:58.

things, decisions, in her life, which were wrong. I feel for her.

:36:58.:37:04.

It feels like she had no help, she was so lonely, in a way. People

:37:04.:37:07.

around her were not there for her benefit, they were there to exploit

:37:07.:37:17.
:37:17.:37:20.

her, in a way. Now, here on the culture show, we

:37:20.:37:24.

like to get different perspectives on things, so we often have guest

:37:24.:37:29.

presenters. This year, one of my cultural highlights was a Sir David

:37:29.:37:33.

Attenborough's celebration of his favourite painter. In

:37:33.:37:43.
:37:43.:37:43.

Attenborough's view, John Craxton was a neglected artist, but a new

:37:43.:37:53.
:37:53.:37:57.

exhibition set out to change all of 60 years ago, I had just got out of

:37:57.:38:01.

the Navy, I had got a degree in natural sciences, and I was in my

:38:01.:38:05.

first job - looking after the illustrations for a publisher. And

:38:05.:38:09.

I picked up this book, The Poet's Eye. Initially it interested me

:38:09.:38:12.

because the illustrations were quite new, they were done by the

:38:12.:38:15.

artist, drawing directly onto the plate that was going to reproduce

:38:15.:38:18.

it, auto-lithographs, they were called. But when I started to look

:38:18.:38:23.

at them - what pictures they were! - I wondered who on earth the

:38:23.:38:29.

artist was. Well, his name was John Craxton. He was brought up in a

:38:29.:38:31.

Bohemian, musical family, and was free-spirited, adventurous and a

:38:31.:38:41.

It was these haunted, undeniably melancholic pictures that led some

:38:41.:38:51.
:38:51.:38:52.

critics to call him a neo-romantic, a label he did not like. But then,

:38:52.:39:02.

as far as the fashionable art world Now, a new exhibition at Tate

:39:02.:39:04.

Britain, the first major show in London since 1967, reveals what

:39:04.:39:14.
:39:14.:39:14.

happened to him. And here's the explanation. In 1946, he went to

:39:14.:39:24.
:39:24.:39:26.

Greece. Two years later, he painted this. Gone is that melancholy young

:39:26.:39:31.

man - all is music and sparkle and sunshine, delight. Fascinated by

:39:31.:39:41.
:39:41.:39:41.

the qualities of the Mediterranean light, his painting was transformed.

:39:41.:39:43.

The landscapes become more complex, more spectacularly daring in their

:39:43.:39:53.
:39:53.:39:55.

However, these bright, scintillating pictures were thought

:39:55.:40:03.

to be too playful and decorative for British tastes at that time.

:40:03.:40:06.

Dispirited by the poor reviews for his 1967 retrospective, for long

:40:06.:40:14.

periods afterwards, John rarely exhibited at all. In his later

:40:14.:40:17.

years, he divided his time between his life in Crete and his studio

:40:17.:40:27.

here in London. It was over 30 years after I first saw those

:40:27.:40:30.

pictures in a book by John Craxton that I got to know him, and even

:40:30.:40:38.

went out to stay with him in Crete. He was a man with a huge enjoyment

:40:38.:40:45.

of life. He loved riding across Europe on his Tiger motorcycle. He

:40:45.:40:49.

loved parties, whether they were at the embassy or down by the quayside.

:40:49.:40:53.

One of the great pleasures of life was to be taken by him to the

:40:53.:40:56.

harbourside restaurant and eat a meal of seafood which even I, whose

:40:56.:41:02.

supposed to know about these things, found difficult to identify. Life,

:41:02.:41:12.
:41:12.:41:17.

said John, is more important than There was another must-see

:41:17.:41:22.

exhibition over at Tate Modern. Alan Yentob met its star, the

:41:22.:41:32.
:41:32.:41:32.

influential German artist, Gerhard Richter. Gerhard Richter's career

:41:32.:41:36.

spanned five decades, and he has proved something of an artistic

:41:36.:41:42.

chameleon. This show has been curated by the director of the Tate.

:41:42.:41:47.

It gives a sense of the scope, intensity and virtuosity of his

:41:47.:41:52.

work. Was there ever a time when you thought that painting and art

:41:52.:42:02.
:42:02.:42:03.

was not for you? A time when you had had enough? Enough of painting?

:42:03.:42:11.

No. Gerhard Richter was born in Dresden, and grew up in Nazi

:42:11.:42:18.

Germany, an experience which would infuse his early work. He became

:42:18.:42:23.

one of the first artists of his generation to reflect on Germany's

:42:23.:42:33.
:42:33.:42:33.

national socialist past. An early series of paintings depicts family

:42:33.:42:41.

members, who had been recruits, as well as victims, of the Nazi party.

:42:41.:42:46.

Again and again, you often go back to pictures of your family. Why is

:42:46.:42:55.

that? They are the people I have most to do with. They are the

:42:55.:43:00.

closest. When I first saw your pictures, I could not believe that

:43:00.:43:05.

the same person had been able to paint all these different images.

:43:05.:43:12.

Nowadays, it is easy to paint. it? Yes, much easier than before,

:43:13.:43:17.

because they have photographs. did you blow the photographs, why

:43:17.:43:22.

not give us nice photographs? like the surface, and of course,

:43:22.:43:32.
:43:32.:43:42.

Our next guest interviewer travelled to Italy to meet up with

:43:42.:43:46.

the creator of one of the most audacious art works of the year.

:43:46.:43:51.

You might not instantly recognise it as a art. A gigantic super-yacht,

:43:51.:43:55.

like this one, is going to be available to buy in London. As a

:43:55.:44:01.

luxury yacht, it is yours for 65 million euros. As a lot work, it is

:44:01.:44:06.

a handsome 75 million. That is a mock-up of 10 million euros. We're

:44:06.:44:16.
:44:16.:44:28.

So, this art work - what do I get for the extra 10 million? What do I

:44:28.:44:34.

get that makes it an art work? get my name in chrome letters, I

:44:34.:44:41.

give my name to this boat. And of course, you get an art work, a

:44:41.:44:45.

different thing than it was before, it is not just a boat, it is an art

:44:45.:44:49.

work. So the only addition you have made physically is the labelling?

:44:49.:44:54.

Yes. You decided not to make any other s 30 decisions or any extra

:44:55.:45:04.
:45:05.:45:06.

When I started to talk to the shipbuilders there was a wish to do

:45:06.:45:11.

something inside the boat, to make it Moriarty. But I had to explain

:45:11.:45:17.

carefully that it stays as this concept. If you are charging 10

:45:17.:45:23.

million for an artwork you are putting yourself up there with

:45:23.:45:28.

Picasso and the great Masters. not? It is quite a bombastic

:45:28.:45:32.

project that could irritate the general public I think. It might

:45:32.:45:37.

get a lot of criticism. For me the boat isn't the artwork - you doing

:45:37.:45:42.

it is the artwork. I see it as you trying to get away with selling a

:45:42.:45:52.
:45:52.:45:53.

boat as an artwork. It is both at the same time. The aspect is needed

:45:53.:45:57.

as a sculpture. If you are struggling for Christmas ideas,

:45:57.:46:02.

Christian is still looking for a buyer.

:46:02.:46:08.

The most talked about cop series of the year was BBC Four's The Killing.

:46:08.:46:18.
:46:18.:46:18.

We caught up with its star. She is a very aspirational character. In

:46:18.:46:22.

many respects she does things we would like to do but we don't have

:46:22.:46:26.

the nerve to do with it. Where do the roots of that character lie?

:46:26.:46:31.

an actor you are looking for a challenge. You are looking to

:46:31.:46:35.

always go somewhere you haven't been before. Up until that point I

:46:35.:46:40.

had always played very emotional characters, traditional feminine

:46:40.:46:44.

characters. Where I have been crying a lot and shouting a lot and

:46:44.:46:51.

feeling a lot, and communicating a lot. I remember saying at that very

:46:51.:46:55.

first might, I would like to play a person who is not able to

:46:55.:46:58.

communicate. When I was standing on the circuits especially in the

:46:58.:47:08.
:47:08.:47:29.

beginning, I actually found it very, It is the writer's story, but this

:47:29.:47:38.

writer insists on writing as we go along. That means that we are

:47:38.:47:42.

shooting one episode at the same time and he is writing on the next

:47:42.:47:47.

episode as we shoot the first one. But it allows him to take a lot

:47:47.:47:52.

from the actors. If you add something as an actor, he will

:47:52.:47:57.

start writing in that direction, if he gets inspired. The one thrap is

:47:57.:48:01.

at the heart of that first series of The Killing is the relationship

:48:01.:48:08.

with the jumper. LAUGHTER When you see series that have

:48:08.:48:12.

female protagonists, they always have nice wardrobes. You've got a

:48:12.:48:18.

woman wearing the same jumper week after week after week for 20 weeks.

:48:18.:48:23.

The jumper becomes almost iconic. don't know what it is with that

:48:23.:48:27.

jumper but there've been times where I have felt that the jumper

:48:27.:48:32.

was wearing me more than I was wearing it! We knew we were looking

:48:33.:48:38.

for somebody not a cliche type of detective. Not a woman in a suit.

:48:38.:48:43.

So we had tonnes of clothes. I just spotted that jumper and I felt

:48:43.:48:51.

right away that that was it. Now, American movie makers Joel and

:48:51.:48:55.

Ethan Cohen released their 15th movie this year, a remake of the

:48:55.:49:02.

cowboy classic True Grit. The brothers based their remake not on

:49:02.:49:06.

the western with John Wayne but on a novel.

:49:06.:49:15.

Mark Kermode saw this film appreciation showdown. The western

:49:15.:49:18.

is a cornerstone of a great American narrative, in which the

:49:18.:49:24.

good get even and the bad are just plain ugly. It is perhaps the most

:49:24.:49:29.

quintessentially American genre, the western provides surprising

:49:29.:49:35.

challenges for Hollywood outsiders Joel and Ethan Cohen. From a final

:49:35.:49:42.

showdown on all things cowboy I met up with Christopher frailing. Hello

:49:42.:49:48.

Chris. Hi, Mark. Let's go see a film. Great idea. True grit is

:49:48.:49:55.

based on a 1968 nov ill, first made into a film by Henry Hathaway in

:49:55.:50:05.

1969, starring John Wayne and Kim dar by. Now 40 years on the Cohen

:50:05.:50:10.

brothers have made their own version of true grit. Tells the

:50:10.:50:19.

story of Matty Ross, who hires Rooster Cogburn to avenge her

:50:19.:50:28.

father's murder. Where's my money. Meet me here at o'clock tomorrow

:50:28.:50:35.

morning. Matt Damon joins them as the suave Texas ranger into the

:50:35.:50:42.

dangerous Indian territory. I just watched True Grit, which was

:50:42.:50:45.

very powerful. Do you think true grit is more than a Cohen brothers

:50:45.:50:50.

film than a western? Partly because the Cohen brothers make it their

:50:50.:50:54.

own so much. They have such a strong view of the world, a strong

:50:55.:51:00.

visual sense that they are dominating the material. It is like

:51:00.:51:05.

a costume drama. It is the equivalent of a Thackray adaptation

:51:05.:51:11.

or a Dickens adaptation. Who are they speaking to in this film? It

:51:11.:51:17.

is to the original True Grit and to the novel. It doesn't make it a

:51:17.:51:23.

western, even though it is set in the Wild West. There is none of

:51:23.:51:27.

that promise, turning the desert into the garden. No sense of

:51:27.:51:37.
:51:37.:51:37.

promise at all. I've been drawn into a wild goose chase by a harpy

:51:37.:51:42.

in trousers and a nincompoop. film has been astonishingly

:51:42.:51:45.

successful. When I saw it I liked it very much but didn't think it

:51:45.:51:51.

would be a hit. I thought it would be a film liked by critics. Why has

:51:51.:51:55.

it achieved such success? Partly because tts view of a 14-year-old.

:51:55.:52:02.

Here is a voice you can identify with if you are in the demographic

:52:03.:52:07.

14 -20yofpltd everyone that heard of True Grit. It was so successful

:52:07.:52:13.

in the '60s. But on a deeper level the movie is about retribution.

:52:13.:52:17.

Somebody wants vengeance because her dad's been shot. Although she

:52:17.:52:23.

gets deflected on the journey, she gets there. This idea of

:52:23.:52:28.

retribution, who are the bad guys, sit clear cut or more economy Kayed,

:52:28.:52:35.

that's a clever way of chiming with what's on people's minds. Thank you

:52:35.:52:41.

and adios. Adios. Mark's second film pick is another

:52:41.:52:44.

film adaptation. We Need To Talk About Kevin

:52:44.:52:46.

revolves around Eva, a mother played with harrowing intensity by

:52:46.:52:49.

Tilda Swinton, who has a troubled relationship with her son, Kevin.

:52:49.:52:53.

When he reaches 15, Kevin commits a terrible act and Eva is left to

:52:53.:52:56.

deal with the horrendous consequences. As his mother, is she

:52:56.:53:01.

to blame? We Need To Talk About Kevin has the same unsettling tone

:53:01.:53:05.

as Lionel Shriver's novel. It's a perverse love story which tackles a

:53:05.:53:10.

taboo subject - a mother who doesn't love her child. The film

:53:10.:53:14.

marks a welcome return for Scottish director Lynne Ramsay. Emerging in

:53:14.:53:17.

the late 1990s, the dark and lyrical style of her early films

:53:17.:53:20.

marked her out as one of Britain's most visionary directors, but this

:53:20.:53:27.

is only her third feature in 12 years. What is it about the story

:53:27.:53:31.

of We Need To Talk About Kevin that you wanted to address? I mean, why

:53:31.:53:40.

that story? I just thought it was very compelling. Some women do not

:53:40.:53:44.

feel that instant bond. It was like a dirty secret. It was like, "Oh,

:53:44.:53:47.

have you read that novel?" There are feelings that people can relate

:53:47.:53:50.

to but it is hard to talk about. How was your relationship with

:53:50.:53:58.

Tilda Swinton on this? Obviously she is the centrepiece of the film

:53:58.:54:01.

and, as you said, it is not a role that everyone would take, because

:54:01.:54:04.

it is profoundly unsympathetic and also taboo, because she is the

:54:04.:54:09.

mother who doesn't love the child. Tilda Swinton is a very bold person.

:54:09.:54:12.

She's brave and she's so intimidating and exotic. So the

:54:12.:54:15.

thing about this was making her more normal, in a way. Making her

:54:15.:54:18.

more, you know, your average mother, albeit this is a very extreme

:54:18.:54:21.

situation. But that was a challenge in itself - how to make Tilda

:54:21.:54:29.

Swinton dowdy. Newcomer Ezra Miller plays the part of the teenage Kevin.

:54:29.:54:32.

You had a drink of water. Hey, Kev. Listen, buddy, it's easy to

:54:32.:54:35.

misunderstand something when you hear it out of context. Why would I

:54:35.:54:45.
:54:45.:54:51.

not know the context? I am the context. He's got a kind of

:54:51.:54:55.

sexuality as well, a kind of creepy slinkiness. I put him through the

:54:55.:55:00.

mill and I had him back six or seven times. But when he walked in

:55:00.:55:04.

the room, he sucked up so many presence. He was so confident. And

:55:04.:55:08.

so intelligent. I felt that Kevin really was smart. Ezra Miller is

:55:08.:55:18.
:55:18.:55:19.

probably the smartest boy I ever met. It's intimidating actually.

:55:19.:55:26.

But our Mark didn't just confine himself to movie theatres this year.

:55:26.:55:36.

I'm sure they don't sell popcorn there.

:55:36.:55:41.

I'm here at Tate Modern because the new Turbine Hall commission is for

:55:41.:55:51.
:55:51.:55:51.

the first time a film. Well, how to begin to describe it. It's like

:55:51.:55:57.

celluloid as architecture, a huge celluloid strip, like the monolith

:55:57.:56:02.

from 2001. The first thing you notice is cinema is usually

:56:02.:56:08.

landscape, but in this has been turned on its side to make it

:56:08.:56:16.

portrait. And how big it is! It was a radical change for me. Of course,

:56:16.:56:21.

I will to work intuitively and my first impression was that whatever

:56:21.:56:26.

I had to do had to be portrait like the space. It became about trying

:56:26.:56:30.

to make that possible within the medium, within the film. The hall

:56:30.:56:34.

is trying to find the shape of the installation. As far as the content

:56:34.:56:39.

is concerned, you've talked in the past about filming a lot to find a

:56:39.:56:44.

little. How did you choose the images? It came about when he the

:56:44.:56:49.

portrait format but I didn't know it was a portrait of what. I

:56:49.:56:54.

started to pick out my port trait format post cards, waterfalls and

:56:54.:56:58.

steps. And then he them up. At a certain point I realised it was a

:56:58.:57:02.

portrait of the film itself. So once I had that and then a bit

:57:02.:57:08.

later it was a portrait of the Turbine Hall. It was a combination

:57:08.:57:12.

of this place. It is only ever going to be for this place. And

:57:12.:57:16.

then with the sprocket holes, I just suddenly realised it was a

:57:16.:57:21.

strip of film. It was very simple. It was that revelation.

:57:21.:57:26.

One of the concerns of this installation and your work is

:57:26.:57:32.

general is the difference between film and digital imaging. Celluloid

:57:32.:57:35.

is fast becoming obsolete. This is something about which you are

:57:35.:57:38.

passionate. What's important about celluloid? Well, film is an

:57:39.:57:43.

entirely different medium from digital. For some reason there is

:57:43.:57:47.

an assumption that digital can take over from film, but it can't. They

:57:47.:57:53.

are totally different mediums the two should be allowed to coexist.

:57:53.:57:59.

We wouldn't get rid of oil painting and replace it with acrylic, or

:57:59.:58:03.

whatever metaphor. The Turbine Hall is a huge platform. He to make this

:58:03.:58:08.

project about fighting for the medium that we are just about to.

:58:08.:58:12.

We've had this for 100 years. We won't be able to see our history of

:58:12.:58:19.

Do something quickly Hope you enjoy this look back at this year. Before

:58:19.:58:25.

we go we leave you with a track from one of 2011's most charming

:58:25.:58:32.

albums. This is Noah And The Whale. We'll be back in February. Until

:58:32.:58:42.
:58:42.:58:53.

then we wish you a very merry # Pressed up to a window

:58:53.:58:59.

# On the other side of town # His breath on the glass

:58:59.:59:06.

# And then his fingers # Circles the streetlights

:59:06.:59:13.

# The only signal note there's people out there in the black

:59:13.:59:21.

# He is in the town he grew up with # Will he ever come back? His heart

:59:21.:59:25.

is pumping blood # On his lip as perfect smile

:59:25.:59:30.

Andrew Graham-Dixon looks back at the cultural the highlights of the year.

Sir David Attenborough celebrates neglected artist John Craxton. Alan Yentob interviews Gerhard Richter and Alastair Sooke meets Tony Cragg, one of the finest British sculptors of his generation.

Andrew Graham-Dixon gets a tour of Grayson Perry's latest works and visits 2011's newest gallery, the Wakefield Hepworth. All this and Damon Albarn's English opera, Sue Perkins interviewing American humorist David Sedaris, PJ Harvey on her Mercury-prize winning album and Tom Dyckhoff has a rare interview with architect Frank Gehry.

Plus film critic, Mark Kermode on the year's best films.


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