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A Life in Black and White - 2. Debi Brown
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Last on

Sun 18 Nov 2012 10:30 BBC Radio Scotland

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 06 September 2012

Andrew Greig; writer, poet and one time mountaineer discovers the unexpected connections between the visual arts and the act of climbing.

Andrew starts his exploration by visiting his good friend the acclaimed Scottish painter Rob Fairley at his home in Glen Uig. They discuss how Rob's ability as a climber has fuelled not only his depictions of mountains in his paintings but the strange otherworldly elements that he infuses them with, inspired by being in what Rob describes as the world's "thin places."

But there's much more to the connections between climbing and art than just the painting of epic landscapes. Some of climbing's elite are also very fine artists. World class alpinist Andy Parkin makes his living jointly from climbing and art made in his studio at the foot of Mont Blanc in the French Alps. And it's from here that he describes what these two passions have in common for him, a sense of adventure, risk and unknown outcome. Here he not only paints and draws but also sculpts and makes installations all inspired by a lifetime exploring.

This contrasts with Northern Ireland based climber and artist Dan Shipsides who has fused the two activities to the point where the climbing is the art. His art is of a much more human scale reflecting the climbing of short but incredibly difficult rock climbs in his native peak district or the coastline of his adopted home . He's even recreated the physical moves of a climbing route in galleries that act both as sculptures and performance pieces.

Reflecting on both the range of climbing and art it inspires Andrew will see how what the two activities really have in common is a creative engagement with life itself.

Producer: Peter McManus.

  • Rob Fairley

    Rob Fairley

    Based in the West Highlands of Scotland Rob is primarily a painter. As a mountaineer he's climbed extensively in the Himalaya, Alps and his native Scotland.

    Website of artist Rob Fairley
  • Andy Parkin

    Andy Parkin

    Andy Parkin has been at the forefront of hard exploratory climbing for more than 30 years. His solo expeditions to remote mountain ranges are legendary. Living at the foot of Mont Blanc in the French Alps, when not climbing he turns his immense energy and focus to making sculptures, installations and paintings that draw on his drive to explore and discover.

    Website of Andy Parkin
  • Dan Shipsides

    Dan Shipsides

    Dan is a contemporary artist living and working in Northern Ireland. He's fused to the two great passions of his life in a unique way taking climbing into the gallery and art on to the rock face.

    Website of Dan Shipsides

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