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Society & Culture

Only Artists

Updated 10 days ago

Society & Culture
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Only Artists from BBC Radio 4 brings two artists together to talk about their creative work. The agenda is theirs, the conversation is free-flowing, and there is no presenter.

Read more

Only Artists from BBC Radio 4 brings two artists together to talk about their creative work. The agenda is theirs, the conversation is free-flowing, and there is no presenter.

Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

Cover image of Only Artists

Only Artists

Latest release on Mar 26, 2020

Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 10 days ago

Rank #1: Katherine Parkinson meets Roxana Halls

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The actor Katherine Parkinson meets the artist Roxana Halls.

Katherine Parkinson is best known for her role as Jen in the Channel 4 sit-com The I T Crowd, which won her a British Comedy Award and a BAFTA. She has also appeared in the long-running drama Doc Martin and the science fiction series Humans. Her most recent stage work was at the National Theatre, where she starred as Judy – an obsessive housewife stuck in the 1950s - in Home, I’m Darling by Laura Wade. The production transfers to the West End next year.

Roxana Halls is a figurative painter who has exhibited across the UK and around the world. Her work has been included five times in the renowned BP Portrait Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, and has been selected for the Royal Academy Summer Show. She has won numerous prizes , and next year her art will feature in a touring show reflecting the life of Christine Keeler.

Producer: Clare Walker

Dec 05 2018

28mins

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Rank #2: Rose Wylie and Stewart Lee

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Series in which two artists discuss creative questions. In this edition, painter Rose Wylie meets comedian Stewart Lee.

Nov 29 2017

39mins

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Rank #3: Stuart Skelton meets Chris Addison

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The opera singer Stuart Skelton meets the comedian, actor and director Chris Addison.

The tenor Stuart Skelton was born in Australia, and has appeared in leading opera houses and concert halls around the world. His most notable performances include the title role in Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten, and Tristan in Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, with the conductor Sir Simon Rattle . He recently made his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, playing Siegmund in Wagner’s Die Walkure.

Chris Addison started out as a solo comedy performer and writer. He played Ollie, a hapless junior advisor, in Armando Iannucci’s political satire The Thick of It, and also appeared in the spin-off film In the Loop. He has directed numerous episodes of the Emmy award-winning comedy Veep, set in the office of the Vice President of the United States, and is familiar as a panellist on shows such as Mock the Week.

Producer: Clare Walker

Oct 31 2018

28mins

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Rank #4: Hossein Amini meets Conor McPherson

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The screenwriter Hossein Amini meets the playwright and director Conor McPherson.

Hossein Amini co-created and co-wrote the TV series McMafia, which focused on Russian gangsters and global organised crime. His screenplay for the film The Wings of the Dove, based on the novel by Henry James and starring Helena Bonham Carter, won an Oscar nomination. His other screenwriting credits include Drive, which starred Ryan Gosling.

Conor McPherson's play The Weir, first staged in 1997, was voted one of the most important plays of the 20th century in a National Theatre poll, and has been performed around the world. More recently Bob Dylan's representatives invited him to create a stage-work featuring Dylan songs. The resultant play, Girl from the North Country, was widely acclaimed in London, and opened earlier this year in New York, where the New York Times described McPherson as 'perhaps the finest English-language playwright of his generation'.

Producer Clare Walker

Nov 28 2018

28mins

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Rank #5: Jonathan Yeo and William Orbit

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The portrait painter Jonathan Yeo meets the music producer William Orbit.

Jonathan Yeo's subjects include David Attenborough, Malala Yousafzai, Grayson Perry and numerous Hollywood stars. He has also been an official General Election artist, and has painted Tony Blair, David Cameron and Charles Kennedy.

Musician and composer William Orbit has won worldwide renown for his work as a music producer, most notably for his recordings with Madonna. Other high-profile collaborations include work with Blur, U2 and Britney Spears, along with albums he has released under his own name. He began by setting up his own studio, with equipment bought from a nearby junk shop.

Series producers Alex Mansfield and Clare Walker.

Dec 13 2017

27mins

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Rank #6: Shobana Jeyasingh and Hussein Chalayan

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Shobana Jeyasingh is a British choreographer. Born in Chennai, she grew up studying the classical Indian dance form bharatanatyam. She launched her own contemporary dance company in 1988. Past works have explored science, classical painting and urban architecture, working with composers, mathematicians and filmmakers. In 2015 she created a piece, commissioned by the Royal Ballet, that directly challenged the stereotype of the exotic Indian dancer.

For Only Artists she meets Hussein Chalayan at the Place Theatre, the home of the London Contemporary Dance School.

Hussein Chalayan has twice won the Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards, and was awarded the MBE in 2006. He was born in Cyprus and moved to Britain with his family when he was 8. From his first graduation collection which he left to decompose buried in a garden, to a coffee table which transforms into a skirt and remote-control dresses, Chalayan is known for his highly creative designs, worn by the likes of Bjork and Lady Gaga. He has made films, had his work shown in galleries and directed and designed a dance piece, Gravity Fatigue, at Sadler's Wells Theatre.
Producer: Katy Hickman.

Mar 21 2018

28mins

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Rank #7: Louise Welsh meets Duggie Fields

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The writer Louise Welsh meets the artist Duggie Fields.

Louise lives in Glasgow and is the author of eight novels, including The Cutting Room, Naming the Bones, and the Plague Times trilogy, which imagines a world ravaged by a pandemic.

Duggie studied at the Chelsea School of Art in the 1960s, and is known for his colourful geometric canvases, inspired by pop and classical culture. For the past 50 years, he has lived and worked in the same Earls Court flat- which he once shared with Syd Barrett, a founding member of Pink Floyd. A re-creation of the flat is currently on show in Glasgow - complete with paint-spattered floor, furniture, and life-sized photographs of the walls, covered in art-works.

Producer Clare Walker.

May 29 2018

27mins

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Rank #8: Maxine Peake meets Cosey Fanni Tutti

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The actor and writer Maxine Peake meets the musician and performance artist Cosey Fanni Tutti.

Maxine Peake was born just outside Bolton. Her television credits include leading roles in the series Dinnerladies, Shameless and Silk. In 2014 she played Hamlet at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. She has written for radio and the stage, and her play about Lillian Bilocca - who campaigned for better safety in the fishing industry - was part of Hull's City of Culture celebrations.

Cosey Fanni Tutti was born in Hull, and began her artistic career there in 1969, when she joined a subversive art collective called COUM Transmissions. Founded by Genesis P-Orridge, the group staged surreal events or interventions around Hull and beyond. Cosey worked for two years as a model for sex magazines and films to create a show about pornography and the sex industry called Prostitution. When it opened at the Institute of Contemporary Art in 1976, it prompted walkouts, made headlines, and provoked questions in Parliament. Cosey co-founded the industrial music band Throbbbing Gristle with Genesis P-Orridge, Peter Christopherson and Chris Carter. Chris and Cosey later created their own band and now perform under the name Carter Tutti.

Producer Clare Walker.

Mar 28 2018

28mins

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Rank #9: Tracey Thorn meets Carol Morley

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Singer and songwriter Tracey Thorn meets the film-maker and screenwriter Carol Morley.

Tracey Thorn formed the duo Everything But The Girl in 1982 with fellow singer-songwriter Ben Watt when they were both students at Hull University. Together they released nine studio albums, and in the mid-1990s their single Missing sold more than three million copies around the world. Since 2007, Tracey has released four solo albums, and published an acclaimed memoir, Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to be a Pop Star.

Carol Morley grew up in Stockport and was in a band by the age of 14, because she felt it was the place 'where real life took place' - although she now admits she couldn't sing. She later studied film and video. In 2011 she wrote and directed Dreams of a Life, an investigative drama-documentary about Joyce Carol Vincent, who died towards the end of 2003, but lay undiscovered in her London flat until early 2006. More recently she has scripted and directed Out Of Blue, based on the novel Night Train by Martin Amis.

For Only Artists, Carol and Tracey reflect on the art of editing, on whether the film and music industries have changed in the past decade, and the pleasures of writing - including the joy of finding an unusual rhyme when writing lyrics.

Producer Katy Hickman.

May 09 2018

28mins

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Rank #10: Sadie Clayton and Ron Arad

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The fashion designer Sadie Clayton meets designer, artist and architect Ron Arad.

Sadie Clayton launched her eponymous brand in 2015, 2 years after graduating from Kingston University, and has gone on to show on the catwalks of London, Berlin and Shanghai. Her signature fabric is copper and her architectural designs have been worn by Gigi Hadid, Skin and Ellie Goulding, as well as being exhibited in art galleries around the world.

Ron Arad is an award-winning industrial designer, artist, and architect. He was born in Israel and went to the Jerusalem Academy of Art and later the Architectural Association in London. His career as a designer began in 1981 with the Rover chair, a recycled car seat anchored on a tubular steel frame, and he has gone on to design everything from furniture to eyewear to skyscrapers.

For Only Artists Ron Arad gives Sadie Clayton a tour of his studio in North London where they discuss serendipity, escaping the design label and what to do with two thousand plumbing saddles. The sketches they make of each other can be seen in the Gallery on the home page.

Producer: Katy Hickman.

May 23 2018

27mins

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Rank #11: Mark Haddon and Tai Shan Schierenberg

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The writer Mark Haddon meets the portrait and landscape artist Tai Shan Schierenberg. They talk about the connection between painting and short stories, capturing the English landscape and creative flow.

Mark's best-selling novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time has won numerous awards and become an internationally successful play. Most recently he published his first ever collection of short stories called The Pier Falls.

Tai Shan Schierenberg won the National Portrait Gallery's Portraiture Award in 1989, and the Ondaatje Prize in 2011. His works hang in the National Portrait Gallery and notable sitters include the Queen with Prince Philip, Seamus Heaney and Stephen Hawking.

Producer: Clare Walker.

Feb 28 2018

28mins

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Rank #12: Jim Moir and Steven Thomas

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Comedian and painter Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves) meets designer Steven Thomas, whose work includes the lavish interiors for the renowned Biba fashion superstore in London in the early 1970s - acclaimed by one newspaper as 'the most beautiful shop in the world'.

His other clients include Paul McCartney, who commissioned Steven and his design partner Tim Whitmore to create his London headquarters. Steven remembers the freedom he was given to create a retail world unlike any other, and reflects on having the confidence to say yes to creative opportunities - regardless of experience. He also outlines his belief that the pressure of a deadline and some moments of zen-like calm in the midst of a busy office can lead to the best ideas.

Producer Clare Walker
Original music by Brian Eno.

Jul 12 2017

27mins

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Rank #13: Tony Pitts and Jim Moir

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Actor and director Tony Pitts meets comedian and painter Jim Moir, also known as Vic Reeves.

Jul 05 2017

34mins

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Rank #14: Angus Jackson and Nadine Shah

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The theatre and film director Angus Jackson meets the singer-songwriter Nadine Shah.

Dec 06 2017

38mins

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Rank #15: Nancy Fouts with Rob and Nick Carter

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The modern surrealist Nancy Fouts meets Rob and Nick Carter - an artist duo who are also husband and wife.

Rob and Nick work with new technology, light and photography. Realising that most gallery goers only spend seconds looking at an artwork, they make us slow down by creating three hour films in which Old Master paintings and drawings are digitally re-imagined: a Sleeping Venus breathes and opens her eyes; a frog slowly decomposes; and the insects round a vase of flowers from the Dutch Golden Age begin to fly and crawl as the blooms flutter in the breeze. Rob and Nick Carter are the only living artists to be shown alongside the Old Masters at the renowned Frick Collection in New York.

Their recent work includes Oak Grove, nine identical full-size tree stumps, cast in bronze. They are based on a drawing from 1600, and created using 3D printing along with bronze casting, to reproduce every detail of the bark and wood. The stumps are currently arranged in a circle in Kensington Gardens, London, where visitors can sit, climb or play on them.

Producer Clare Walker.

Jul 26 2017

27mins

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Rank #16: Steven Thomas and Nancy Fouts

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The designer Steven Thomas meets the modern day surrealist Nancy Fouts. Nancy has been an avid collector of everyday objects since she was young - from stuffed birds to crucifixes, false teeth, insects, board games, coins, plastic toys and much more.

In her art, she often brings these objects together in surprising combinations. A stuffed budgie perches on the bar of an electric heater, an opened purse bares its teeth, a rifle is painstakingly covered in hundreds of rose thorns. Each piece is crafted and executed with precision. Nancy's home is meticulously organised - with her work on the walls, her studio in the basement, and countless cupboards full of her collections.

Producer: Clare Walker.

Jul 19 2017

27mins

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Rank #17: Hollie McNish meets Paapa Essiedu

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The poet Hollie McNish meets the actor Paapa Essiedu.

Hollie won the Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry in 2016, and has published five books of her poems. Her most recent book, Plum, draws on memories and writing from childhood and her teenage years, along with her experiences as a parent. She first made her name as a performance poet, and her videos have received millions of views online.

Paapa played Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2016 - the first black actor to take the role for the RSC. The production toured the UK earlier this year, and also travelled to North America. Paapa first joined the RSC in 2012, shortly after graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He has also worked at the National Theatre, and at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol.

Producer Clare Walker.

Jun 13 2018

27mins

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Rank #18: Alice Lowe and Toyah Willcox

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The director and actor Alice Lowe meets the singer and actor Toyah Willcox.

Alice Lowe wrote, directed and starred in the acclaimed comedy slasher film Prevenge, which she made while pregnant. Her work on screen as an actor includes roles in Hot Fuzz, Horrible Histories and the horror parody series Garth Marenghi.

By the age of 20, Toyah Willcox had appeared on stage at the National Theatre, recorded an album and taken a leading role in Derek Jarman's film Jubilee, as the flame-haired pyromaniac Mad. Since then she has acted in more than forty plays, recorded over a dozen studio albums, and appeared in numerous feature films - alongside icons such as Katherine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier. She is currently performing as Elizabeth 1 in a stage version of Jubilee.

Mar 07 2018

28mins

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Rank #19: Norman Ackroyd meets Robert Macfarlane

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The landscape painter and print-maker Norman Ackroyd meets the writer Robert Macfarlane.

Norman, who celebrated his 80th birthday this year, invites Robert to his studio in Bermondsey, London. They discuss their fascination with wild landscapes and islands, and how they attempt to come to a deeper understanding of place. They also share their thoughts on their working methods: for Norman, printmaking is like writing music - trying to capture and fix light and weather. For Robert, writing is a strange and solitary process: he reflects on the rhythm of prose and reads his latest “selkie” or seal-folk song.

Norman has been etching and painting for seven decades, with a focus on the British landscape - from the south of England to the most northerly parts of Scotland. His works are in the collections of leading museums and galleries around the world.

Robert has written widely about the natural world: his book The Old Ways is a best-selling exploration of Britain's ancient paths. In 2017 he published The Lost Words, a collaboration with the artist Jackie Morris, in which they aimed to bring nearby nature – the animals, trees and plants from our landscapes – back into the lives and stories of Britain’s children.

Producer Clare Walker

Oct 17 2018

36mins

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Rank #20: Natalie Dormer meets Tori Amos

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Natalie Dormer, who has reached a global audience through her roles in The Tudors, Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games, meets the singer and songwriter Tori Amos, backstage at the Royal Albert Hall.

Tori was born in North Carolina and released her first solo album, Little Earthquakes, in 1992. It has sold more than two million copies around the world. She has released 14 more studio albums, winning eight Grammy nominations. Her musical, The Light Princess, premiered at the National Theatre in 2013.

Most recently, Natalie has co-written the screenplay for In Darkness, a psychological thriller.

Producer Clare Walker.

Jun 07 2018

27mins

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