In Search of the Sublime is a 44 minute BBC 3 feature radio programme broadcast. As the Alps undergo visible changes due to climate warming, the programme follows artist and Royal Academician Emma Stibbon to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc in France. The programme highlights how the Mont Blanc region has a long history of science, alpine climbing and artistic pursuit and is now undergoing dramatic glacier retreat due to climate warming. Whilst conducting her own fieldwork in Chamonix, Emma explores the rich history of British landscape artists who came to the region in search of the Sublime. On her location-based research during the programme she hiked up the Mer de Glace glacier on the Mont Blanc Massif with Jean-Franck Charlet, a sixth-generation Chamonix guide, to sketch in the same spots as JMW Turner on his 1802 tour. Comparing the view in his watercolours showing a sea of dramatic white seracs, she witnesses the stark retreat of the glaciers today.
The programme examines how the Alps played a key role in the development of the Sublime in the late 18th and early 19th century and how Chamonix became a hub for tourists, mountaineers, and scientists. It describes how Romantic artists, poets and writers travelled here on the tourist trail, in search of glaciers and majestic peaks and how these historical depictions of the Mer de Glace are being used by glaciologists in modern-day research. The Romantics sought to evoke a mixture of awe and terror in their depictions of nature, but the viewer was usually situated in a position of safety. Painters represented man as small and powerless in the face of Nature's great majesty. However, in a 21st-century sublime, Emma argues, we can no longer look out on nature with assurance, due to a critically changing climate; we are now firmly situated within the danger. The programme proposes that the emotional power of art can be used to move hearts and minds when science alone cannot.
Produced by Victoria Ferran and Susan Marling | Exec Producer Sara Jane Hall.
Contributers: Professor Sandra Kemp, Director of The Ruskin - Library, Museum and Research Centre, University of Lancaster | Patrick Vincent, Professor of English and American Literature, University of Neuchâtel | Christine Riding Head of Curatorial Department National Gallery | Dr Samuel Nussbaumer, senior scientist with the World Glacier Monitoring Service and the Department of Geography at the University of Zurich | Jean-Franck Charlet, sixth-generation Chamonix guide
Listen again link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00126vd
|Media of output||Online|
|Publication status||Published - 5 Dec 2021|
- Mont Blanc
- Mer de Glace
- Glacier retreat
- Art and Science
- Climate warming
- Nature and Landscape