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Ideas Election/Maggi Hambling

Anne McElvoy discusses the Crucifixion in art with Maggi Hambling in Canterbury Cathedral. And thinkers of various political persuasions ponder if this will be an 'ideas election'.

Ideas are supposedly rare things in a British election. As the candidates prepare for the national hustings Anne McElvoy challenges four political thinkers to hunt down and map out the intellectual agendas of the moment.

Who are the new communitarians and what will they do with the post-bureaucratic state? Has the financial crisis sharpened ideological dividing lines or are new political ideas a luxury beyond the means of austerity minded politicians?

Around the table are Philip Blond, self-styled "Red Tory"; Matthew Taylor, former strategy adviser to Tony Blair and Director of the RSA: Jill Kirby, Director of Margaret Thatcher's favourite think-tank the Centre for Policy Studies and Giles Wilkes, political blogger and Chief Economist with the liberal think-tank Centre Forum.

And Anne goes to Canterbury Cathedral with the artist Maggi Hambling and Professor of Divinity, Richard Harries, to discuss the artistic representation of one of the most potent Christian symbols: the Cross.

For almost 25 years, Hambling, one of Britain's best known artists, has painted a cross every Good Friday. It's a kind of personal ritual - a tradition started when she created the first one in memory of her mother in the 1980s. This year Hambling's varied images of the crucifix are being displayed in the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral, alongside Easter images by another renowned painter, the artist Craigie Aitchison, who died in December.

But, as Anne discovers, it seems Hambling and Aitchison are not alone in the artistic community in being so attracted to the crucifixion, despite the secular tone of most of today's art. Artists, both religious and non-religious are continually drawn to the cross in their work - in many cases for sensitively exploring secular and personal topics. Beyond the Cathedral, Kent is hosting an exploration of the use of the cross in modern art across the county with works by Tracey Emin, Stanley Spencer and Marc Chagall.

45 minutes

Last on

Thu 1 Apr 2010 21:15


Free Thinking

Free Thinking

Radio 3’s new home for arts and ideas.