Ian Blatchford

The Art of Innovation
  • The Art of Innovation

  • The landmark BBC series exploring science in art, developed by Radio 4 in partnership with the Science Museum - with an introduction read by Toby Jones

    'A real treat' The Spectator

    Art and science are often considered to be in conflict, with art dealing in creativity and science in cold, hard facts. But the two disciplines have always been interconnected, taking inspiration from each other and shaping each other's worlds. In this fascinating 20-part series, Sir Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum, and Dr Tilly Blyth, the Science Museum's Head of Collections, reveal how science's ingenuity has been incorporated into artistic expression - and how art's creativity has stimulated scientific progress and technological change.

    Beginning with the Enlightenment and concluding with our modern-day Age of Ambivalence, they take a chronological journey through 250 years of British history, looking at the often surprising relationships between iconic works of art and key scientific objects and ideas. Among the pieces they analyse are Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg's theatrical portrayal of the Industrial Revolution, Coalbrookdale by Night; Constable's cloud paintings; John Nasmyth's extraordinarily detailed photographs of the Moon; Roy Nockolds' Supersonic, the first abstract image to show the breaking of the sound barrier; and Longplayer, a 1000-year-long musical composition created by computer algorithm.

    From Joseph Wright's 1776 painting A Philosopher Giving A Lecture On The Orrery, illuminating a new scientific age of wonders, to Cornelia Parker's Einstein's Abstracts and Cold Dark Matter, shining cosmological light on what is yet to be known, we see that science and art are part of the same rich culture, engaged in an ongoing dialogue driven by mutual curiosity, creativity and imagination.

    Presented by Sir Ian Blatchford and Tilly Blyth
    Introduction read by Toby Jones
    Readers: Shaun Mason, Katherine Cusack and Sean Baker
    Music composed by Mark Russell
    Produced by Adrian Washbourne, in partnership with The Science Museum Group

    © 2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd
    (p) 2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

    First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on the following dates:

    The Scientific Sublime 23 September 2019
    Masters of Spectacle 24 September 2019
    Satirizing Science 25 September 2019
    Observing the Air 26 September 2019
    Tracking Progress 27 September 2019
    Plants on Paper 30 September 2019
    Reaching for the Moon 1 October 2019
    Dyeing to Display 2 October 2019
    Capturing Time 3 October 2019
    Celebrating Speed 4 October 2019
    Art as Protest 7 October 2019
    Humans in the Industrial Machine 8 October 2019
    Forms of Knowledge 9 October 2019
    Supersonic 10 October 2019
    Patterns from Atoms 11 October 2019
    Wonder Materials 14 October 2019
    Polaroid Perceptions 15 October 2019
    Protecting the Earth 16 October 2019
    Patterns of Thought 17 October 2019
    Imagining Matter 18 October 2019

Sir Ian Blatchford is Director and Chief Executive of the Science Museum Group and Director of the Science Museum in London. Previously Ian was Deputy Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum. He was awarded the Pushkin Medal in 2015. In April 2017 Ian became Chairman of the National Museum Directors’ Council and in 2018 received a knighthood.

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