Leading artists, writers, thinkers discuss the ideas shaping our lives & links between past & present and new academic research.
The Forty Thieves gang, Buffalo Bill, designs chosen by sailors, convicts, lovers: Shahidha Bari looks at the history of tattoos with Matt Lodder, Zoe Alker and Tanya Buxton from the opening of the first commercial parlour in London’s West End in 1889 to the most popular images now and their use to enhance wellbeing.
Zoe Alker has studied over 75,000 tattoos seen on convicts between 1790-1925. She teaches in the criminology department at the University of Liverpool.
Matt Lodder is a Senior Lecturer in Art History and Theory, and Director of American Studies at the University of Essex. His research primarily concerns the application of art-historical methods to history of Western tattooing from the 17th century to the present day.
Tanya Buxton is a tattoo artist based in Cheltenham, specialising in medical tattoos.
Producer: Torquil MacLeod
We've a whole collection of programmes exploring The Way We Live Now gathered together on the Free Thinking programme website. They include a discussion about Perfecting the Body, Mental Health, Gloves and Hitchhiking https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p072637b
From monumental sculpture from ancient Greece, Egypt and India, wall hangings from Japan and China, to Western fine art, a British Museum exhibition asks: what does female spiritual power mean past and present? Christopher Harding is joined by the curator Belinda Crerar and by Ronald Hutton, whose new book explores Pagan Goddesses in Christian Europe, along with the writer Gavanndra Hodge who has investigated goddess cults of the past and present, and Anjali Sanyal from the London Durgostav Committee, dedicated to the worship of the Hindu goddess Kali.
Feminine power: the divine to the demonic runs at the British Museum from 19 May 2022 - 25 Sep 2022
Queens Of The Wild: Pagan Goddesses in Christian Europe: An Investigation by Ronald Hutton is out now.
Producer: Luke Mulhall
A playlist on the Free Thinking website explores Religious Belief https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03mwxlp and there's also an episode looking at Witchcraft and Margaret Murray which has guests including Ronald Hutton https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001271f
Gandhi, Indian Architecture
The man who killed Gandhi is the subject of a new play opening at the National Theatre by Anupama Chandrasekhar. She's one of Rana Mitter's guests along with Balkrishna Doshi, a Riba Gold Medal winner for his buildings, which include low-cost housing and research into environmental design. He studied with Le Corbusier and historian Vikram Visana joins Rana to trace the links between Corbusier, Doshi and Charles Correa. And as she directs a new play at Hampstead Theatre, the Tamasha Theatre Artistic Director Pooja Ghai is also in the Free Thinking studio.
The Father and the Assassin - a new play by Anupama Chandrasekhar runs at the National Theatre from 12 May
Vikram Visana teaches at the University of Leicester. His research has included the work of architect Charles Correa (1930 -2015).
Lotus Beauty by Satinder Chohan is directed by Pooja Ghai at the Hampstead Theatre from May 13th to June 18th. You can find Tamasha Theatre company's podcast dramas online at https://tamasha.org.uk/projects/the-waves/
Producer: Tim Bano
John Gallagher digs deep into the significance of soil with food grower and gardener Claire Ratinon, Dr Jim Scown, who has researched the role of soil in the novels of Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, and George Eliot, and Anna da Silva, Project Director of Northern Roots, the UK’s largest urban farm and eco-park in the heart of Oldham in Greater Manchester. And philosopher and art historian Vid Simoniti reviews two major new exhibitions exploring our relationship with the world around us - Radical Landscapes at Tate Liverpool and Our Time on Earth at the Barbican in London.
Producer: Ruth Thomson
'Unearthed: On race and roots, and how the soil taught me I belong' by Claire Ratinon is published next month.
Radical Landscapes runs at Tate Liverpool from 5 May – 4 Sep 2022 featuring over 150 artworks and live trees and plants in the gallery.
Our Time on Earth runs at the Curve Gallery at the Barbican Centre from Thu 5 May—Mon 29 Aug 2022
Jim Scown is a 2022 New Generation Thinker at Cardiff University on the scheme run by the BBC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to turn research into radio.
Vid Simoniti is a 2021 New Generation Thinker who teaches on art and philosophy at the University of Liverpool https://www.vidsimoniti.com/
You can find a collection of programmes on the Free Thinking website exploring Green Thinking https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07zg0r2
TV shows Hinterland and Hidden are bilingual using Welsh and English. Caryl Lewis, who has written scripts for these TV dramas and award-winning novels, joins Catherine Fletcher for an exploration of Cymraeg, the Welsh language. We hear from Richard King, whose book Brittle with Relics is an oral history of Wales in the second half of the twentieth century, Dr Elen Ifan from Cardiff University, and composer, performer and actor Seiriol Davies, whose new musical Milky Peaks is set in the 'bosom of Snowdonia'. Caryl Lewis's many novels include Martha, Jac a Sianco and Y Gemydd and she has just published her first novel written first in English and it is called Drift.
Producer: Ruth Thomson
New Thinking: Flooding and Energy
How decoding Erewash, Trent, Averham and other field, river and place names from old maps can help us understand flooding patterns in Britain. Dr Richard Jones, Associate Professor of Landscape History at the University of Leicester is one of Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough’s guests. Her second guest is Dr Rebecca Wright, a Social and Cultural Historian of Energy from Northumbria University.
The research projects featured are:
Flood and Flow: https://waternames.wordpress.com/team/
Forthcoming manuscript Moral Energy in America: From the Progressive Era to the Atomic Bomb which explores the birth of an ‘energy consciousness’ in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century.
This episode was made in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, part of UKRI
Producer: Paula McFarlane
You can find more conversations about New Research gathering into a playlist on the Free Thinking programme website https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03zws90
I really enjoy the breadth of topics discussed, the varied guests, and the new thinking. A refreshing diversity of ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds, and contemporary issues. Perhaps a little dry at times, and still probably a little too middle-class academic to be truly inclusive, but a better effort than many others.
Lawrence Scott is incredibly banal and his episodes are uninteresting and the questions shallow. Added to this his voice is beyond irritating.
Philip Dodd overworks the word ‘marinaded’. He is incapable of getting through an interview without throwing it in. I find this irritating. I find myself listening out for it as if it’s a codeword in some clandestine wartime broadcast.