Archive for the 'General' Category

Our premiere on Sky Arts

October 16, 2010

Transmission of the new series begins tomorrow, Sunday 17 October, at 7pm on Sky Arts 2. The first film to be shown is Hinduism, and we’ll be updating the blog with reactions and responses.


Christians in China

November 26, 2009

John Wyver: We’ve been rather preoccupied over the past week or so with starting to film Macbeth for the BBC and the PBS strand Great Performances. But I have been enjoying the BBC Four series A History of Christianity written and presented by the historian Diarmaid MacCulloch. The first programme (still available on BBC iPlayer) looks at the early development of Christianity in the East and it includes a strikingly vivid sequence towards the end in China with the author and expert on Eastern religions Martin Palmer. Martin Palmer and Diarmaid MacCullogh

Palmer argues convincingly that Christianity established a significant presence in China in the seventh and eight centuries and he takes MacCulloch to a site of what he believes to be a long-lost Christian monastery. Engagingly, they are chased away before being able to film inside the sole surviving building.

Rule of the river crabs

November 17, 2009

John Wyver: Fascinating article by Isabel Hilton from the Guardian today about internet censorship in China and the ways in which users attempt to circumvent it. Prompted by President Obama’s enthusiastic endorsement of freedom of expression during his visit to China, Hilton details how sites such as Twitter are blocked but also how pro-Party bloggers endeavour to counter online criticism. Read the rest of this entry »

A very good introduction

November 16, 2009

Street sign near White Cloud TempleJohn Wyver: Before going to China, I read a clutch of books about the country and its culture — and I’ve been continuing with that, and with an ever greater interest, since coming home. One of the very best is Rana Mitter’s Modern China: A Very Short Introduction, published by OUP in its entirely essential Very Short Introductions series.

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Sunday links

November 15, 2009

Great Wall filming spotI’m still struggling to catch up with my sleep after the return from China — and also to catch up with this blog. I’m bringing across all of the China posts, plus the Japan ones, and aiming to enhance these as well as adding ones about filming plans in the new year. One idea I want to try is a note each Sunday of links I’ve found interesting both in the ongoing research for Art of Faith II and in general reading related to its subject. So here’s a first short selection — and we’ll refine the focus and range as the notion develops over the coming weeks.

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The beauty of bento

October 21, 2009


While it might seem off-topic, this fascinating debate in the New York Times is core to the interests of this blog: Japanese culture, aesthetics — and food. In a discussion of the beauty of bento lunch boxes, the forum asks why such value is placed on aesthetics in everyday life in Japan. The suggested answers, especially in dozens of readers’ comments, are enlightening.

Buddhist glories in South Ken

October 19, 2009

John Wyver writes: Although I’m off to China on Friday to film Buddhist and Daoist temples for the new series — more details of the itinerary later in the week — you don’t of course have to go halfway around the world to see glorious examples of Buddhist art. Both the British Museum and the V&A have exceptional collections — and over the coming weeks I want to highlight some of their artworks, and also some of the online and gallery elements with which they and other institutions provide context for them.

V&A Sculpture Buddha head [A.98-1927]

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Back to the blog: Art of Faith II

October 3, 2009

As regular readers know, we have started filming (and indeed editing) three new Art of Faith films for Sky Arts. These explore the architecture and art of Eastern religions: of Buddhism, Hinduism and of what we’re calling religions of the Dao, which in this case includes Shinto in Japan. Presenter John McCarthy, director Linda Zuck and director of photography Ian Serfontein are making a first filming trip to Japan and you can also follow the progress of the project at this blog dedicated to the production.

Bridge [IMG_0729]

We created our first production blog for the initial series of Art of Faith for Sky Arts, which remains online here. We intend to migrate the content of that across to this new one as soon as we feel that the new one has found its form. We would be genuinely interested to hear what people think of the lay-out and content of this relatively minimalist offering; we still have time to refine it before everything gets too settled. Also, the first three Art of Faith films are available here on DVD. Meanwhile, bear with us if things are just a little ragged. We hope to have everything in good shape before we fly out on the second filming trip, to China, on October 23.