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Laura-Jane Foley: my favourite work of art
It was George Bernard Shaw who said "without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable." And the world does seem pretty unbearable at the moment. Faced at all turns with conversations about the bitterly divisive Brexit or the vulgarity of Trump, I wanted to move away from the "crudeness of reality" and put art at the heart of our conversations which is why I began my new podcast series My Favourite Work of Art. As one listener wrote on social media "for those who wish for some respite from world news, this wonderful podcast is guaranteed to restore calm".
Described as a "Desert Island Discs for art", each week My Favourite Work of Art features a well-known guest talking about an artwork that has meant something to them. Each episode of lasts 15-20 minutes and is a chat about the personal and emotional impact a work of art has had on my guest followed by a short sum-up in which I explain a little more about the artwork from an art history perspective.
Every episode is as different as my guests. The film director Gillies MacKinnon chooses Goya's gruesome and powerful Saturn Devouring His Son
and Gilles discusses the artwork's resonance in his own films. The former Conservative MP Brooks Newmark chooses a portrait of his mother by the Pop Artist Andy Warhol and Brooks recounts what it was like to be in Warhol's famous New York Factory studio as a teenage boy. The artist Anita Klein chooses the Madonna del Parto
– a painting of a very visibly pregnant Madonna by Piero della Francesca because it's a painting she wishes she had painted. And the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow chooses two artworks from the parliamentary art collection – one, a portrait of Speaker Lenthall who defied the Crown and protected the rights of parliament, that John looks at every single day. And his second artwork is a contemporary light sculpture - New Dawn
by Mary Branson - which celebrates women's suffrage.
It's such an enjoyable experience to hear people talk about an artwork that has had an impact on them. It's impossible not to be caught up in someone else's enthusiasm and passion. Another of my guests is the BBC Antiques Roadshow jewellery expert Geoffrey Munn and he describes an extraordinary art detective hunt for a missing watch designed by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
I'm passionate about communicating art to a wider audience and the podcast allows me to reach a new audience. Art is so often viewed as elitist or inaccessible but in fact, everyone is equal in front of an artwork and I hope people will listen to my podcast and be inspired to welcome art into their lives.My Favourite Work of Art by Dr Laura-Jane Foley is available now to download from iTunes. Laura-Jane is on Twitter @laurajanefoley.