Ep 4/9

Thursday 22 March



Episode four: The Eye Of Faith.

Mary Beard broaches the controversial, sometimes dangerous, topic of religion and art.

For millennia, art has inspired religion as much as religion has inspired art. Yet there are fundamental problems, which all religions share, in making God or gods visible in the human world. How, and at what cost, do you make the unseen, seen?

Beneath all works of religious art there always lies conflict and risk. And the result is often iconoclasm - the destruction of works of art - which Mary believes can, paradoxically, lead on to new forms of creativity.

Mary Beard visits sacred sites across the world to examine the contested boundaries between religion and art. She goes to the temple of Angkor Wat, the Tintoretto Crucifixion in Venice, Buddhist caves of Anjanta and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, as she seeks to break down the conventions that depict some religions as image-based and others as hostile to artistic representation. She shows how all faiths (and their artists) face the same fundamental problems of treading a careful line between glorifying God in images and blasphemy by daring to represent the divine.

She ends at the Parthenon in Athens. This is a building that has been in turn a pagan temple, a Christian church and a Mosque. Now, as a monument to Western civilisation itself, and tourist’s pilgrimage site, she ask us to wonder what we now worship.

The Eye of Faith is written and presented by Mary Beard. Executive Producers for the BBC are Mark Bell and Jonty Claypole. Executive Producers for Nutopia are Michael Jackson and Denys Blakeway, Series Producers for Nutopia are Melanie Fall. The Eye of Faith is produced and directed by Matthew Hill.