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Jonathan Meades on Edward Burra

Great Lives, Series 34 Episode 1 of 9

26 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 05 August 2014

Writer Jonathan Meades nominates the English artist Edward Burra, who died in 1976, for "great life" status, arguing that he deserves to be better known.

Burra painted sailors, drinkers and prostitutes in Toulon; jazz musicians in Harlem; surreal wartime pictures of soldiers in terrifying bird masks; and, in his later years, landscapes in which anthropomorphic and malevolent machines bite chunks out of the countryside. Disabled with rheumatoid arthritis from an early age, Burra barely went to school and so escaped the Edwardian upper class upbringing that would otherwise have been his destiny. At once camp yet apparently celibate, Burra was intensely private and disliked talking about either himself or art - or, as he called it, "fart".

Matthew Parris chairs the discussion, and is joined by Burra's biographer Jane Stevenson.

Producer: Jolyon Jenkins.


Matthew Parris
Interviewed Guest
Jonathan Meades
Interviewed Guest
Jane Stevenson
Jolyon Jenkins



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    Great Lives

    Biography series exploring the greatest people who ever lived. Matthew Parris interviews an eminent…

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