Free Thinking 2009

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Night Waves20100104

Free Thinking 2009

In front of an audience at the Sage Gateshead as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking festival, Rana Mitter hosts a talk given by architectural historian Dan Cruickshank making the case for the restoration, repair and recreation of lost historic buildings, which have been destroyed beyond recognition or simply demolished.

Dan's talk, entitled Building Memories, argues that we underestimate the aesthetic and emotional consequences of this conservation. We need to restore architecture to a prominent place in our understanding of ourselves, our history and our society. Dan has been leading the campaign for the restoration of the Euston Arch, the gateway to the London station which was torn down in the early 1960s. But he also asks: perhaps we have to admit that great buildings live in the imagination more powerfully than they do in the real world?

The globe-trotting architectural historian best known for his dynamic television appearances in series such as Around the World in 80 Treasures and Britain's Best Buildings, Dan holds major public roles with organisations including The National Trust and the Royal Institute of Architects and has been an adviser to Prince Charles.

Night Waves20100114

Free Thinking 2009

Matthew Sweet presents a talk given at The Sage Gateshead as part of Radio 3's Free Thinking festival, in which bioethicist and disability specialist Tom Shakespeare asks how art can help us understand today's difficult moral issues.

He believes that in many of today's contentious and emotional public debates - for example around disability, ante-natal screening or even the heated discussion of the right to die - there are often no clear answers. Neither science, nor social research, nor ethical reasoning can tell us what to do - much as we may wish for them to do so.

Instead, Tom argues it is not science, but rather art that can help us think through these modern dilemmas by making space for the emotion and complexity they need. He demands we think of art as a 'tool for thinking', explaining why as a scientist he believes we need to involve art in some of our most difficult social and ethical decisions - because it will help us in unexpected ways.