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Hello and welcome to the Culture Show from the Larmer Tree Festival
where I'm delighted to host my very own and very muddy film club.
Coming up I'll get into the Olympic spirit by taking part in a relay
race with a difference. Here's what else is in the running this week:
Artist Chris Ofili's Titian inspired works. Actress Fiona
Shaw's passion for poetry and Tate Modern's shiny new oil tanks.
First up, Turner Prize winning artist Chris Ofili whose latest
work is part of a collaboration with the Royal Ballet. Alan Yentob
explains all. When the artist Chris Ofili was
asked to design a set and costumes for the Royal Ballet he said he
felt like a lamb to the slaughter. He had no idea what ballet design
involved. Then he turned back to the story and inspiration at the
heart of the ballet. Titian's paintings of Diana, which depict
mythical tales taking from Ovid's Metamorphoses in which the young
hunter spies on die yama whilst she's bathelinging with her nymphs.
Diana turns him no a stag and he's torn apart by the hounds. Ovid's
Metamorphoses's imagine aegs was -- ofili's imagination was ignited.
This is an ambitious dlabraigs. Chris Ofili is one of three
contemporary artists and an array of choreographers and poets who are
asked to team up and create a ballet and new works of art in
response to Titian's master pieces, which will all be displayed
together at the National Gallery. So as well as the set design and
the costumes. Chris has also made ten new paintings for the
exhibition. They've just arrived in London from his home in Trinidad.
But there's not enough space to hang all of them. So with the help
of the show's curator, Mina, he needs to decide which will stay and
which will go. Just swap these two, the green for the pink. That's
really working now. These two now. Did this significant body of work,
which is very powerful, did you have to embark on this before you
decided on exactly how you saw the set and... I tell you right, first
thing, it wasn't easy, this whole process wasn't easy. It was two
years, but the first year was just not sleepless nights, but just
thinking, "what am I doing here?" how did I end up saying yes to this
one? The classics, which I didn't study at all, so I had a little bit
of help and a friend in Trinidad who studied classics. He was able
to just tell me, like, the basics of it. And actually there's nothing
special about it. Humans don't change. We pretty much do the same
things as they did all those years ago. So, then I was able to exhale
and think OK, it's all right. I can just make some of this up. I was
liberated by painting the back drop at Purfleet, which was the biggest
painting I've made. It's quite amazing you did that because very
few artists today would actually paint the back drop themselves.
paint a line for a minute and walk with it was something I'd never
really done before. It made me think a lot about how simple things
I don't want to take it out, but let's take it out. I think you may
have to find another room. Alan is lobbying for me. We've got loads of
If I were to continue, I think the whole thing could get a lot darker.
There's a very bright won -- wonderful side when the nymphs are
bathing, but then it all turns and gets very, very dark. I do wonder
at some point why Diana got so angry. It's funny. Aren't you
overdoing it a little bit? Yeah. seems a little heavy handed. It's
as if the whole environment has been infected by this sort of spell
of Diana's, this moment. Right. There are times when you go walking
in the forest in Trinidad and the destination would be a water fall.
You do feel like the whole thing is just infected with this particular
feeling, that's very unique and very private. When I started
reading about Ovid I could immediately identify with that
feeling of that sacred space, where you can be naked or you can be
without fear. This sensuality that we're talking about, which is here
all around us, you see it in the costumes as well. The nymphs wear
all in one, figure-hugging lycra suits. What I did, I drew on the
suits while they were wearing them and those areas were cut out to
reveal parts of their flesh to give the audience that feeling that
they're naked, semi-naked and just to heat the whole thing up a bit.
It's so mysterious, a hole-in-the- wall. This is pretty much the set.
The magic moment will be when the dancers in costume come on the
One of the things I think is again so appropriate about your
involvement in this project is that you go somewhere surprising and
strange and foreign, but also, very absorbing. It's like you enter this
world. I can see it all as I look at these pictures, this magical
environment in which a theatre is, you open. You sign up to believe
that what happens within this box, which is 50 times bigger than that
box over there, is real for 35 minutes, before ice-cream time.
It's that wonderful feeling that we, as human beings, still like to play
make-believe and have a dolls' house and move things around. It's
far more sophisticated than that, but it's still that wonderful thing
that we like to make things ourselves. So here we are now,
we've got, there are ten paintings. Have you yet made your mind up?
think... I have a room in my house I could fit one in. Yeah? Good,
keep the door open. We'll bring them in.
Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 is at the National Gallery until
September 23. You can see more about the project in Imagine on BBC
One next Tuesday. Now, Peace Camp is another London
2012 collaboration between director Deborah Warner and actress Fiona
Shaw, a celebration of both love poetry and the beauty of Britain's
coastal landscape. Cerys Matthews went to find out more.
The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared and mer Rhyl did we drop
below... I collect poetry like I do music. I go back to my favourites
time and time again. They age really well, the more you go back
to them, the more they can reward. "Higher and higher every day, till
over the mast at noon... # " These days lyrical poetry plays
such a tiny part in our day-to-day lives, which is a shame because
there's over a thousand years worth of material to plunder and enjoy. I
am a wind on the sea. I am a wave of the ocean. I am the roar of the
sea. I am the meaning of poetry. I am a spear on the attack. I am the
God who fires your mind. This dates back to about the 11th
century from the book of invasions. It's the song of Amer -- Song of
Amergin. This summer one of the most
intriguing commissions of the cultural Olympian is Deborah Warner
and Fiona Shaw's Peace Camp, eight glowing encampments set in romantic
sites in the most remote and rugged reaches of the British coastline.
From the Isle of Lewis to Cornwall, Northern Ireland to Anglesey, as
the sun sets, the coast will light up and start to speak to us in
verse. "Sweet Heart, sweet heart, do not
love too long. I loved long and long and long. And grew to be out
of fashion." Here we are at the test site. It's like a dress
rehearsal. It is. They're nice dresses! They look like pods, like
poetry pods or eggs even. How did you hatch this idea? Well, it's
really hatched by Deborah Warner, who was asked to do something like
this for the Olympiad and just thought to affect landscape.
Landscape is the basis of it. You have got the sea. You've got land.
To make people wonder and be with themselves in land and look at land
in a different way. The moment you put the pods down, you're looking
at the world in a different way. You think, are there huemans in
them. Are people chatting. "How many years are there left to cross
over and show you things themselves, not my idea of things ." The tents
contain speakers playing love poetry and music. How did you
collect the poetry? I went all over the country to hear different
voices and I was hoping to hear poems I didn't know before and
sometimes I did. In Scotland, there was a fantastic poem called Dark
Ellen. It's about a woman who says, you came and burnt down my house.
Killed my brothers and sisters. You killed my father and I love you.
This is a shocking kind of amoral poem which tells you everything
about the unlegislated area of love in the mind. That was a really good
find. Sometimes we offered poems to people, famous poems, iconic poems,
you can go from Shakespeare to John Donne and Robert Burns. Going
around here you can hear snippets of poetry. How did you choose?
had about 560 poems recorded. You mix up these islands of England and
Ireland and Scotland and Wales and make different, the sounds would
bring out the truth of these "On the French coast the light
gleems and is gone..." Musician Mel Mercier has created an on site
sound escape. I'm trying to create an environment or texture in which
the poems can live so that the voices then are really like music.
I love the way twouf pieces of poetry and one line from one a
familiar one and a poem I don't know but it makes you look at them
different. Absolutely. A lot is that by listening to the seniority
of the voices and seeing which ones work well together and then they
start a dialogue with each other and it's really unexpected and you
hear the reasonances from one being amplified by the other and they
cross over each other. I feel like I am on some mad moonscape and
start to work like you have no I sometimes feel when you say the
word poetry, it's like the word jazz, it repels people more than it
can attract people. How do you think people are going to react to
this? I hope that they'll come with a bottle of beer in their hand or a
glass and I hope they'll wander and I hope they don't speak too much to
their mates, just listen and see what they hear and nobody's trying
to teach them anything. You are are just trying to evoke a pit of you,
the erotic bit of you, the bit that's lost love or gained love or
wants to love and these poems hold the memory of all the people who
have loved. So you are plugging into a lot of love. If ever any
beauty out at sea which I desired and got, it was but a dream of
And you can join the Peace Camp at various locations around the UK
from tomorrow until Sunday. Next, two huge oil tanks
decommissioned since 981 will now be used to house performance and
live art at Tate Modern. Alice ter Souke went to survey the gallery's
sleek new spaces. Huge underground tanks, formerly
used to hold millions of litres of oil which fuelled one of London's
biggest power stations. Certainly not your average location
to house exhibitions. For the past two years Tate Modern
has been transforming its basement into the world's first museum space
solely dedicated to life performance art and film.
Live performance has always been an essential component of avant-garde
culture throughout the 20th century but preserving it has been tricky
for museums and galers because if you miss the show that's it, until
now. The Tate's oil oil are being touted as the most exciting spaces
to displace art anywhere in the world which is quite a bold claim.
The big question is, can they live up to the hype?
Joining me to look at one of the empty tanks is someone who's used
to performing in unusual spaces, the choreographer and dancer Akram
Wow, yeah. It's bigger than I thought it would be. It's
incredible. I know they're if finishing touches going on outside
but that atrium, I wasn't entirely convinced by but this feels like a
coherent, nicely concentrated focused space. I like also is it's
circular and it's rare you get that, it feels like you are back in the
gladator era where people can sit around but it has huge
possibilities. Immediately you feel that? You are thinking if I were
making a work here I would utilise the fact it's in the round?
course, you are 360 degrees. I thought OK the audience is going to
be around and them looking towards the centre, the gravitas is towards
the centre. Yeah, it's extraordinary. I quite like the
fact these tanks have a real purpose. They will be for live
performance and filmworks, but I did wonder before coming whether
they would feel austere, like a Castle but like a Castle dungeon
where you are shunted off into the depths, the bowels of the building.
How do you feel about that? first place I look is for the
dungeon and I always wished I had a basement. It's very private and you
are below everything else that's happening above, the creativity but
in a sense what's wonderful, if you think of it conceptually is
everything starts from the roots. In a sense, maybe what happens here
will influence what happens above. What's beautiful about live art,
it's important to have the intimacy, to feel you are sharing the same
space. In a traditional theatre you are - the stage is separate to you
and you are in the audience here, even if you stand on the side I
feel I am part of the work. Akram and I were given a sneak
preview of rehearsals for the first performance in the South Tank, a
reworking of a minimalist dance piece by the Belgian choreographer
You know that piece really well. Do you feel it was at all different
given that it was in a new space? have seen it many times, many
places. It's definitely different. How has it changed? Because of the
atmosphere of the space itself. If she had done it somewhere else,
maybe the subtly might have been felt differently. It's a seminal
piece of work because it's so minimal, yet so complex. It's
extremely complex in its simplicity. I think that's the best way to
How much does the space where you are making a work, define what the
work is? At the moment you are doing something which is the
opposite of intimate. You are doing a piece for the opening ceremony of
the Olympics. With the Olympics I made it outside the stadium, but we
are kind of rehearsing in the stadium and when we do you have to
reshape the whole choreography and rechange stuff for it to be - to be
in the right format for a stadium. I think the same goes here, you
know. We are used to traditionally used to a proscenium theatre, where
there is a space, there's a fourth wall and that's the audience. Here,
it's hard not to be influenced because you don't know where the
audience is. Focusing on film and live live performance art feels
timely as these artforms have become increasingly fashionable.
They feel refreshingly independent of the art market. The new spaces
at Tate Modern aim to show a diverse body of work. In the South
Tank over 15 waoeubgs nine -- weeks nine different performance artists
will engage with the space in a variety of ways. The East Tank will
be dedicated to one piece of work, the first commission is a complex
video installation by the south I think the transformation of these
two tanks is rather special. I am pleased that at last Tait has this
permanent bastion to two aspects of contemporary art and performance
and film that are potentially more vulnerable because they're
ephemeral. I think there may be a risk that these distinctive spaces
will dominate whatever is shown within them, but they still throb
with drama and possibility. And I am excited to see how artists in
the future will go about using them. Now, I realise that I may not have
the sporting physique necessary for a relay race but a Hansel film is a
movie marathon of short films taking place from Shetland to
Southampton and back. I was eager to pick up the baton in Berwick-
upon-Tweed and get up to speed with their progress so far.
For the last five weeks a group of energetic Brits have been involved
in a nationwide relay with a difference. No, not the Olympic
torch, these runners have been transported hundreds of short films
around the country. It's not a competition, but a celebration of
home grown local cinema. And let's not forget mighty oaks from little
acorns grow. A young Christopher Nolan used
short film to experiment with surreal special effects. Tim Burton
to sketch out his gothic fantasy world.
And hart-you hart--- hard-hitting realist to win an Oscar. The short
film offerings from Hansel's Hollywood wannabes will be
transported torch-like around 23 arts venues in the UK. The relay
culminates in a roundup of 100-odd films at the annual film festival
screenplay which I co-curate. Hansel is a Shetland word for gift,
the sharing of each community's cinematic fair at the heart of this
project. Creativity has been seeping from the walls of every
town along the way. Around 300 film-makers have submitted work and
so far we have had poetic pieces, darkly comic motion animations, and
poignant documentaries. One of my personal favourites is
Stkopl by Asockalypse. Guys, stop It's shaping up as a Hansel of film
favourite, tell me about making it. It's obviously Night of The Living
Dead. You were originally going to call it? Night of The Linen Dead.
We made it entirely inside a washing machine box so we got the
packaging and built the room inside there. You get four people crammed
into a washing machine box and a camera in there. They weren't
related but they might as well have been. There's been a great response
to the Hansel callout for short films, why do you make them because
you have ambitions to be a feature film-maker or do you enjoy making
short film themselves? I suppose it beats stamp collecting. The calibre
of short films is truly impressive and I am intrigued to see what's on
offer at Berwick-upon-Tweed. Yes, here comes James with the
films for tonight! Hello, James. You have the reel for to us take.
Can I take it off you. Ladies and Hansel 2012 features a diverse
range of films, like this heartfelt drama About A Boy who sacrifices
Young presenter Henry debuts in this touching nature documentary.
Like a blink, they have gone and to me, that means end of summer.
Each screening is a unique window into the communities involved. As
this one ends, it's time for me to pass the baton on.
This is the musical leg of the journey. You are going to play the
films out from here and then on to the Skipton. Take it away.
MUSIC The thing I love about short film-
making is it's so democratic. Anyone can do it and right now it
seems that everyone is. And they're not doing it to make money or as a
step on a career ladder, they're making short films for the sake of
making them and that is something You can catch up with the Hansel of
film at locations around the UK until September 7th. That's about
it for this week, but if you need another culture fix go to the