Outlook Arts [world Service]

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07/11/201420141108
07/11/201420141108

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Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

2Cellos, Violin Virtuso, Harlem Jazz20150228

A Croatian cello revolution; Taiwanese-Australian violinist; Jazz in a Harlem home.

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of artsLuka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser from Croatia who have gained a huge online following for their wild performances of pop and rock classics including Guns N Roses and Michael Jackson....on the cello.

Following the death of her son Philip in 1992, Harlem jazz musician Marjorie Eliot took quite an extraordinary decision. Every Sunday she would remember him and celebrate his life through Jazz music, offering free concerts in her apartment. For the past twenty two years she's being doing just that. Outlook's Matthew Nelson went along to one of her Sunday sessions.
Inti Castro is Chile's most famous street artist. His massive colourful murals can be seen on buildings across Santiago and the port town of Valparaiso. He started out when he was a teenager with a gang of graffiti artists painting by night, but today he is celebrated around the world. Jane Chambers has been to meet him.

Amitabh Bachchan is regarded as the best and most influential actor in Indian cinema history. He has starred in over 180 films in a 40 year career. One of his many fans is BBC Urdu's Dino Ali, who got the chance to interview the actor when he came to the UK recently. So how did it go?

Ray Chen is a Taiwanese-Australian virtuoso violinist. He tells Nicki Paxman how chopsticks and a guitar inspired him to pick up his instrument.

(Photo: 2cellos; Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, Ray Chen, Marjorie Eliot)

Art Fraud, Still Alice, Donetsk Opera20150307

The art forger who fooled America, Oscar winner Julianne Moor, Donetsk opera singer

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

Artyom Yaroshevich is an opera singer from Ukraine who is still performing every week in the war-torn city of Donetsk. He says he believes the conflict has given his job new significance.

For nearly 30 years Mark Landis donated scores of artworks by famous artists to museums all over the US. He was feted as a philanthropist. But all of them were forged by Mark himself. Because he never took any money from the museums, he has not committed a crime under US law. We talk to Mark and the man who uncovered the forgeries, Matt Leininger.

Karim Miske has just written an award-winning debut novel in France. It tells the story of a young mixed-race man called Ahmed, who is investigating the murder of his upstairs neighbour. The book is called Arab Jazz.

The Best Actress award at this year's Oscars went to Julianne Moore for her role in the film Still Alice. She plays Alice Howland, a linguistics professor and mother of three grown-up children, who at the age of 50 is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, a condition that attacks memory.

David Amanor talks to Ibrat Safo from BBC Uzbek who has produced a series of interviews called History of One Song - ten episodes with ten different singers from Uzbekistan. Some have fallen out of favour or are banned. Ibrat introduces us to three singers, their music and the stories behind their songs.

Photo: Mark Landis (Left), Credit: Sam Cullman; Julianne Moore (Centre), Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Artyom Yaroshevich (Right), Credit: Petr David Josek/AP.

Baring All, Favela Rap, Music Box20150207

Adam Pearson, Criolo and Nahed Najjar

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

Throughout his life 29-year-old Adam Pearson has been bullied, harassed, stared at and called everything from Elephant Man to Scarface because of the way he looks. He has neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition which causes tumours to grow on his face, making it swollen and distorted. While some with this condition might choose to hide away from the world, Adam has put himself firmly in the media spotlight, as a television presenter, and more recently as an actor. His first movie role in the film Under The Skin required a nude scene with one of Hollywood's biggest stars, Scarlet Johansson. Johansson plays an alien who drives around Scotland in a van seducing young men.

The playwright Shahid Nadeem has spent a lifetime writing and campaigning about injustices in his adopted homeland of Pakistan. Shahid's play Dara has recently opened in translation at London's National Theatre, a first for a South Asian playwright. It takes place in the Mughal empire of India in the 17th Century, where bitter battles for power laid the foundations for the development of Islam.

Kleber Gomes, also known as Criolo, is a rapper and soul singer from Sao Paulo in Brazil. In 2011, his album called Knot in the Ear brought him fame and international recognition. His musical style is a mix of funk, reggae and samba - but the words always carry a strong social message about inequality and the problems of drugs and violence.

David Mason is an Iranian-born dance teacher who runs Afghanistan's Mobile Mini Circus for Children.

BBC Arabic celebrate their 77th anniversary at the weekend and as part of the festivities they are putting together a special programme of musical highlights over the years. Nahed Najjar, presenter of BBC Arabic's 'Music Box', shares some of her favourite moments.

(Photo left: Adam Pearson. Photo centre: Criolo. Credit: Caroline Bittencourt. Photo right: Nahed Najjar)

Big Eyes Art; Crime Writer; Violinist20150110

Big Eyes Artist Margaret Keane; James Ellroy; Kyung Wha Chung

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

Margaret Keane was the artist behind the popular "Big Eyes" paintings of the 1960s, but her husband Walter Keane bullied her into letting him take the credit for them. He made millions of dollars from them until Margaret took him to court to prove they were her own. Margaret's story has just been turned into a feature film.

Ennio Morricone is one of the most famous and prolific film composers. His music has been the emotional backdrop of almost 500 movies. However his name will always be synonymous with the spaghetti Western. He tells Matthew Bannister about composing the some of the most famous film scores in Hollywood.

James Ellroy is an American crime fiction author whose novels have been turned into Hollywood film such as LA Confidential and The Black Dahlia. His books are often set in 1940s America and he himself admits he is obsessed with the past and in particular the criminal history of Los Angeles.

Tsuki Ayano is re-populating her remote village in Japan with human-sized dolls. The dolls now outnumber the human population and help to attract visitors to the area.

South Korean Kyung Wha Chung is one of the great violinists of her generation. She tells Outlook about her long and illustrious career and how an injury in 2005 forced her to stop performing for 5 years.

(Photos: Margaret Keane (credit: Keyne Eyes Gallery San Francisco CA); James Ellroy (credit: Lisa Stafford); Kyung Wha Chung (credit: Kang Taewook))

Big Spender, Chicken Crazy, Singing Nun20141129

Shirley Bassey, Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, Nun who won Voice of Italy

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

Clare Allan, author of Poppy Shakespeare, a satire on mental health. Clare's own depression came on suddenly when she was in her 20s, and resulted in her being sectioned on a mental health ward. Despite being told by her consultant that her aspirations as a writer were a delusion and part of her illness, one of Clare's short stories won the inaugural Orange Short Story Award in 2002. In 2006, her acclaimed novel Poppy Shakespeare was published and was subsequently made into a Channel 4 film.

Koen Vanmechelen is a conceptual artist from Belgium who is obsessed with chickens. For the past fifteen years he has been cross breeding hens and roosters from across the world to create his Cosmopolitan Chicken Project. It can be seen at St Pancras Church, London and celebrates the chicken through photography, video installation, and taxidermy.

Focus On Africa's Peter Okwoche talks about music and how it reflects politics in Nigeria.

Algerian singer songwriter Souad Massi started her music career in Algiers in the early 1990s, when the country was suffering a Civil War. In 1999 she was invited to Paris to perform at a concert called Women from Algeria. She won a recording contract and moved to live there. Since then, Souad Massi has released five albums, with sounds and influences from Pakistan, American folk rock, Spanish flamenco, Arabic lutes and African instruments.

A top TV talent contest in Italy has been won by a singing nun. Now Sister Cristina Scuccia combines her duties as a nun with a fledgling pop career. Her first album, is called "Sister Cristina".

The Welsh singer, Dame Shirley Bassey has had a showbusiness career lasting more than sixty years. She reached her biggest audience by singing the theme songs to more James Bond films than any other artist, bringing her the worldwide hits: Diamonds are Forever, Moonraker and Goldfinger. Her new album is called "Hello Like Before".

Picture: Shirley Bassey; Koen Vanmechelen; Sister Cristina Scuccia
Credit for Koen Vanmechelen picture: Florian Voggender

Border Music and Painting Sound20150314

Mexico's Reclaimed Instruments; Hearing Colours

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

American photographer Richard Misrach and Mexican composer Guillermo Galindo are two artists who have come together to depict the migrant experience on the Mexican/US border. Richard has spent 15 years taking pictures of items left behind by migrants. Then he met Guillermo who was making music about the migrant experience. Richard now collects pieces he finds and sends them to Guillermo who turns them into instruments.

Ali Banisadr grew up in the Iranian capital Tehran in the 1970s and 80s surrounded by the sounds of the bombing of the Iran-Iraq war. As a child, he started painting pictures of monsters to make sense of the sounds he heard. Now, as an internationally successful artist, he makes large and complex paintings, patterned with frenzied, surrealist figures. And his painting is all based on a synaesthesia - where each stroke of the paintbrush relates to a sound in his head.

Bangladesh is a relatively new country, created in 1971, but it has a long tradition of poetry, written in the Bangla language. To find out about the place of poetry David Amanor is joined by two BBC Bangla journalists and poetry fans, Manoshi Barua and Pulak Gupta.

Helen Fitzgerald is an Australian social worker who lives in Scotland and works with offenders and people who have been released from prison. But she's also a successful thriller writer.

The German mezzo soprano Brigitte Fassbaender is world renowned for her dramatic impact, a talent inherited from her actress mother and singer father. She was best loved for her roles in Der Rosenkavalier and Die Fleidermaus. She retired from the stage in the mid 1990's and has since forged an equally impressive career as opera director. Now 75, Fassbaender continues to direct and also teaches masterclasses to young opera singers around the world.

Image: Instrument ‘Zapata 2014’ by photographer Richard Misrach and composer Guillermo Galindo; Iranian artist Ali Banisadr

Cinema, Eurovision, Comedy2014103120141101 (WS)

Bearded lady, Humour to stop radicals, Ayo, Shabana Azmi, Poems, Blind sculptor

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

Bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst talks about her double life; how as Conchita, her glamorous stage persona, she won Eurovision with the song Rise Like a Phoenix, and became a global gay icon; but how, when back at home in Vienna, she removes her make-up and reverts to being 25-year old Tom Neuwirth who eats pizza with two hands.

Singer-songwriter Ayo on her easy-going soul folk music, her latest album Ticket to the World and selling more than one and a half million records in 40 countries. She was born in Germany to a Nigerian father and Romanian Gypsy mother. Her mother became addicted to heroin, so Ayo and her three siblings were put into foster care.

Indian actress Shabana Azmi describes how she began her stage career at the age of four before going on to star in over 400 movies. She explains why working in independent cinema was more appealing to her than the glamour of Bollywood.

Deborah Alma calls herself an Emergency Poet. She travels around fairs and festivals in the UK in a converted ambulance, prescribing poetry to those who seek her help. She says that poetry is better than pills.

British Muslim Humza Arshad became famous around the world after he filmed a comedy video in his bedroom and posted it on the internet. He has gone on to create more, featuring friends and family, and has amassed over 55 million hits online. He tackles issues relevant to the community he grew up in, like arranged marriage, racism, and attitudes to women. Now the UK police have asked for his help in tackling extremism. Humza has made a film to be shown in schools, which aims to stop the radicalisation of young people.

The Italian sculptor Felice Tagliaferri explains why he is famous for his motto: Forbidden NOT to touch! Felice has been blind since he was 14, and says that exploring his sculptures by touch is as important as looking at them.

(Picture: Shabana Azmi, Conchita Wurst, Humza Arshad
Picture credit for Shabana Azmi: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Cinema, Eurovision, Comedy20141031

Bearded lady, Humour to stop radicals, Ayo, Shabana Azmi, Poems, Blind sculptor

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

Bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst talks about her double life; how as Conchita, her glamorous stage persona, she won Eurovision with the song Rise Like a Phoenix, and became a global gay icon; but how, when back at home in Vienna, she removes her make-up and reverts to being 25-year old Tom Neuwirth who eats pizza with two hands.

Singer-songwriter Ayo on her easy-going soul folk music, her latest album Ticket to the World and selling more than one and a half million records in 40 countries. She was born in Germany to a Nigerian father and Romanian Gypsy mother. Her mother became addicted to heroin, so Ayo and her three siblings were put into foster care.

Indian actress Shabana Azmi describes how she began her stage career at the age of four before going on to star in over 400 movies. She explains why working in independent cinema was more appealing to her than the glamour of Bollywood.

Deborah Alma calls herself an Emergency Poet. She travels around fairs and festivals in the UK in a converted ambulance, prescribing poetry to those who seek her help. She says that poetry is better than pills.

British Muslim Humza Arshad became famous around the world after he filmed a comedy video in his bedroom and posted it on the internet. He has gone on to create more, featuring friends and family, and has amassed over 55 million hits online. He tackles issues relevant to the community he grew up in, like arranged marriage, racism, and attitudes to women. Now the UK police have asked for his help in tackling extremism. Humza has made a film to be shown in schools, which aims to stop the radicalisation of young people.

The Italian sculptor Felice Tagliaferri explains why he is famous for his motto: Forbidden NOT to touch! Felice has been blind since he was 14, and says that exploring his sculptures by touch is as important as looking at them.

(Picture: Shabana Azmi, Conchita Wurst, Humza Arshad
Picture credit for Shabana Azmi: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Copacabana, Abstract art, Nostalgia20141206

Barry Manilow duets with the dead, US artist Chuck Close, Singer-songwriter Annie Lennox

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

American singer songwriter Barry Manilow had massive hits with Mandy, Copacabana and Can't Smile Without You. By the wonders of modern technology, on his latest album, Barry has recorded duets with his favourite singers from the past including Marilyn Monroe and Whitney Houston. All these singing partners have one thing in common - they are dead.

The Iranian-born writer Farnoosh Moshiri had a traumatic time after the Islamic revolution of 1979. She was forced to flee the country and live as a refugee for four years. Those experiences have influenced the five novels she has published from her adopted country, the United States.

'Ca tru' storytelling is a style of music and poetry unique to north Vietnam. This storytelling art form is 900 years old but is in danger of going extinct.

The American artist Chuck Close has produced some of the most instantly recognisable work in contemporary art. His giant portraits are often three meters high. In 1988, Chuck had a seizure which left him paralysed from the neck down and he had to learn how to paint again in a very different way.

BBC journalists Manuel Toledo and Emilio San Pedro from Cuba pick songs that define the Cuban identity and experience of home.

Scottish singer songwriter Annie Lennox has sold 80 million records, both as a solo artist and as part of the band The Eurythmics. After a four-year-break from the music business she has released a new album called Nostalgia, on which she interprets songs made famous by some of the best known jazz singers of the 20th Century - people like Billie Holiday and Nina Simone.

Photo: Barry Manilow, US artist Chuck Close, Singer-songwriter Annie Lennox
Picture credits: Barry Manilow : BBC/Guy Levy, Chuck Close: Getty Images

Jeff Kinney, Sara Shama, Shen Wei20150117

Creator of the Wimpy Kid; Syrian artist in exile; choreographing the Beijing Olympics

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

The American writer Jeff Kinney is a superstar of children's literature. His book The Diary of a Wimpy Kid are bestsellers worldwide.

Afghanistan recently began its first exports of pomegranates to Europe. The fruits are famous across Central Asia not just for their taste but also for inspiring artists. We hear from BBC Persian, Uzbek, Pashto and Turkish about the musical and literary history of the blood red fruit.

The Chinese artist Shen Wei is best known for his work in contemporary dance and movement. In 2008 he was the lead choreographer for the Beijing Olympics. He has also been a professional opera singer and more recently opened his first major exhibition of paintings in Miami.

The BBC's Ally Yusufu and Victoria Uwonkunda take us on a musical tour of their country in search of a song to define Rwanda.

Sara Shamma is a Syrian artist now living in exile in Lebanon. She explains how the war has changed her art.

(Photo: From left to right, Jeff Kinney, Sara Shama, Shen Wei)

John Cleese, Superheroes, Jazz20141220

Monty Python star John Cleese; Cartoon heroes; Saxophonist Tony Kofi; Jihadi anthems

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

John Cleese is best known as one of the stars of the surreal British TV comedy series Monty Python. The Python team made feature films, including The Life Of Brian, and John went on to create and star in Fawlty Towers. His film A Fish Called Wanda earned him an Oscar nomination. Now aged 75, John Cleese has published his autobiography So, Anyway.

The BBC has been highlighting the cost of jihadi militancy and the impact of groups like al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and the Islamic State. Murad Shishani of BBC Arabic has been looking at what defines the songs being used for recruitment and mobilisation. They are called Anasheed in Arabic.

Saxophonist Tony Kofi is a regular performer on the international jazz scene. He grew up as one of seven brothers in a Ghanaian family in a poor area of Nottingham, England. As a teenager he was not thinking of a career in jazz - but then a terrible accident changed the course of his life.

Why does the world love imaginary superheroes? A cartoon character was created in India recently to help tackle violence against women and superheroes have always been big money spinners for Hollywood. They have been threading their way into folk tales and story books for centuries. What are some examples from around the world?

British writer M J Hyland on learning to cope with Multiple Sclerosis. She is critically acclaimed for her novels which deal with the darker side of life. Her second novel was nominated for a prestigious writing prize, but just before the publication of her third - This is How - she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis - a diagnosis which transformed the way she writes.

Photo: From left to right, John Cleese, the Incredible Hulk, Tony Kofi.
(Credits: John Cleese, Danny E. Martindale Getty Images. The Incredible Hulk, Reuters. Tony Kofi, Jon Frost.)

Laughter, ballet and a piano orphanage20150214

Zarqa Nawaz, Michaela DePrince, Jean Jude

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

Zarqa Nawaz is a Canadian film maker and comedy writer whose material is inspired by the challenges of being a practising Muslim in North America. She created a comedy called Little Mosque on the Prairie for Canadian television and has now written a frank book about her life called Laughing all the Way to the Mosque.

The singer songwriter Joan Armatrading has been known for the raw emotion of her music ever since Love and Affection made her an international star in 1976. Joan Armatrading was born in St Kitts in the Caribbean, but moved to Birmingham in the UK when she was seven years old. Now, after 20 albums and 42 years on stage Joan says her current world tour will be her last. It is also the first in which she's performing completely alone on stage, with no backing band.

Michaela DePrince's was born in Sierra Leone and lost both her parents during that country's brutal and bloody civil war. But one day, she came across a page torn from a magazine which featured a picture of a beautiful ballerina. In a new book called Hope in a Ballet Shoe¸ Michaela tells how she was adopted by an American couple and taken to live in the US where she trained in classical dance. She's now a member of the Dutch National Ballet.

When Jean Jude was a child growing up in France he was told that his family couldn't afford a piano. So he secretly saved up his pocket money to pay for piano lessons. That childhood passion ended up taking over his life. Not only did he become a music teacher, but he started collecting pianos. Now he has over 180 instruments and has turned his home in the city of Tours into what he calls a "piano orphanage".

For many parts of Asia, it's New Year on 19 February. As Vietnam prepares for its biggest celebration of the year, David Amanor is joined by two Vietnamese journalists from the Fifth Floor, Hami and Ly Truong, to find out how they would spend it.

Image: Zarqa Nawaz, Michaela DePrince (credit Jade Young), Jean Jude.

Lindy Hop Queen, Breakdancer's Circus20150221

Dance legend Norma Miller, Winston Ruddle's Mama Africa Circus

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

Norma Miller was a member of one of the most famous American dance groups of the 1930s and '40s, Whitey's Lindy Hoppers. Now 95-years-old she is still promoting the dance - the Lindy Hop - which is enjoying something of a revival.

Fazal Hakimi is from Afghanistan and drives a mini cab in London. But between journeys with clients, he has another life: as a successful actor and scriptwriter.

Zimbabwean breakdancer and entrepreneur Winston Ruddle created opportunities for young people in the ghettos of Dar es Salaam by setting up a circus school.

Russian film producer Alexander Rodnyansky discusses his controversial film Leviathan, nominated for an Oscar this weekend.

Iranian Ali Azimi gave up his career as an engineer in the UK to return to his homeland and pursue his dreams of becoming a rock musician in Iran.

Imagine all the music that's ever come out of your country then pick one or two songs that define your identity or experience of home. Not an easy task and today it's the turn of our Turkish journalists Zeynep Erdim and Seref Isler.

Picture: Norma Miller (Left) and Winston Ruddle (Right)

Musical Odysseys and Mexican Comedy20141213

Muslim drag queen Asif Quraishi, French DJ David Guetta, remembering Mexico\u2019s Chesperito

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

From a Durban township to the stage of London's Royal Opera House, the soaring career of South African baritone Njabulo Madlala.

Wet is an 85-year-old artist who is one of the tribal elders of the Palikur tribe. He makes wooden sculptures inspired by his tribe's beliefs about the stars and their constellations. Gibby Zobel travelled to Wet's remote Amazonian village to meet him.

Chilean artist Oscar Raby has based his latest virtual reality work on a violent incident from his family's past. In 1973 his father's army regiment came into contact with a military death squad known as the Caravan of Death. Diana Steenbergen put on a pair of virtual reality glasses to experience it.

Drag queen Asifa Lahore has long curly black hair and wears flamboyant dresses. She is hoping to be Britain's entry in next year's Eurovision Song Contest. But the man behind the glam persona Asif Quraishi grew up in a conservative Muslim family in a large South Asian community in west London.

Roberto Gómez Bolaños, one of Mexico's most famous and well-loved comedians died recently. David Amanor shares memories of him with BBC Mundo's María Elena Navas and Juan Carlos Pérez who grew up watching his performances.

French music producer David Guetta is one of the biggest names in pop, with the jet set lifestyle of an international dance DJ. He tells Samira Ahmed about his influences and his latest album Listen.

Photo: From left to right, Asif Quraishi as drag queen Asifa Lahore, a statue of Mexico's Chesperito, DJ David Guetta. Credits: Asif Quraishi, Getty Images)

Octopus Art, Soweto comic, Reindeer Police20150131

Zoia Skoropadenko; Trevor Noah; Olivier Truc

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

The Ukrainian artist Zoia Skoropadenko makes controversial art works out of octopus. She shapes pieces of the undersea creatures into human torsos before capturing them on canvas.

Comedian Trevor Noah is a huge star in his home country of South Africa. He is now finding fame on a global scale, performing around the world. Trevor grew up in Soweto, the son of a black South African woman and a white father from Switzerland and observations on race and his mixed ethnicity are a big theme in his comedy.

You've probably heard of the famous fictional detectives Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple. But how about a crime fighter from the Reindeer police of Northern Norway?. He's the creation of French born thriller writer Olivier Truc. His book Forty Days of Shadow is set among the indigenous Sami people of the far North of Norway.

85 year old Hedy Pagremanski is a Holocaust survivor who paints pictures of the disappearing landscapes of New York City. She paints buildings that have been condemned, blocks that are set to be redeveloped and streets and communities that have been overlooked. She tells reporter Matt Nelson how her motivation for capturing a particular moment comes from her experiences as a child growing up in Vienna where she and her family had to hide for months before escaping to Panama and then the United States.

The Paris-based artist Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert makes hand-blown installations out of glass. He's known for creating contemporary pieces of work - from ceiling lights that look like clouds, to the intricate colourful spirit fruit inspired by his West African childhood. Jeremy tells reporter Anna Bailey why he likes the fragile and dangerous nature of glass despite having been in a car accident where he went through a windscreen in his early twenties.

Yemi Fisseha is said to be Ethiopia's first female club DJ. She's one of the most sought after DJs in the bars and clubs of Addis Ababa. She tells the BBC's DJ Edu about turning the tables - on the turn-tables!

(Photo left: Zoia Skoropadenko. Photo center: Trevor Noah. Credit: Matthew Nelson. Photo right: Oliveri Truc. Credit: Paola Bevilacqua)

Outlook Arts2014103120141101 (WS)

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

Outlook Arts2014103120141101 (WS)

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

Painters, Puppy Love, Poetry20150124

Concetta Antico; Donny Osmond; Grace McCleen

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

Kuwaiti artist Shurooq Amin is known for her controversial depictions of the double standards she sees in Arab society. As a result, she is not allowed to exhibit in her home country. This hasn't deterred her and she continues to speak out against what she sees as injustice in the Gulf states.

The traditional Vietnamese music known as CaTru has had a chequered history. It began in royal courts but later on became associated with vice and depravity and was rarely performed. Our reporter Marianne Brown has been to Hanoi to meet a woman who has made some difficult sacrifices to revive the art form.

Concetta Antico is a painter with a very unusual gift. A genetic condition called tetrachromacy means she can perceive millions more colours than most people. She has superhuman vision and can see subtleties in the world that the rest of us can't.

Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora who died three years ago started her career singing on cruise ships and went on to become a huge international star. She was known as the "Barefoot Diva" for performing without shoes. David Amanor talks to the BBC's Manuel Toledo and Zenaida Machado about her music and what she means to Cape Verdeans.

Grace McCleen is an acclaimed young novelist from Wales who says that she is giving up writing because she finds the experience too painful. Grace was brought up in an evangelical Christian household and as a result she was isolated from much of the outside world during her childhood. She's channelled her experiences into her writing but despite receiving great praise for her work she says her third book The Offering may be her last.

Donny Osmond started singing in public when he was five years old and is still performing. He remembers the pressures of being a teen idol, and describes how he rebuilt his career after falling out of fashion in the 1980s.

(Photos: Artist Concetta Antico (left); singer Donny Osmond (centre, credit: Brandon); writer Grace McCleen (right, credit: Tom York))

Snapping strangers; Dr Who; Funny man;20141115

2nd funniest man; The Tower; Slum rapper; Photographing strangers; Turkish actor; Dr Who

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

Saad Haroon has been voted the second funniest man in the world. The comedian was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and despite his family's protests, decided to devote his life to making people laugh. Now based in the US, Saad's biggest achievement to date came at a competition called "Laugh Factory - funniest person in the world": He came second.

German author Uwe Tellkamp used his family's experiences of living in the East German city of Dresden and the country's repressive communist regime as the basis of his prize winning novel "The Tower". Uwe wanted to study to be a doctor, but to get permission to do that he had to agree to extended service in the East German army. He became a tank commander and was sent to prison for refusing to break up a demonstration.

Rapper Nimesh Patel - known as "Nimo," grew up in east Los Angeles. He had a successful career in finance, but when he found success as a rap musician, he turned his back on the trappings of Western status, and took up a simple life, working with slum children in India.

"Humans Of New York" American photographer Brandon Stanton goes up to complete strangers on the street and asks them to share their life stories. It all started when he lost his job in finance and decided to give more time to his hobby, photography. He moved to New York City and set out to photograph 10,000 strangers on the streets. Today his project "Humans Of New York" has become a best selling book.

Haluk Bilginer is a Turkish film and TV actor. He stars in the movie Winter Sleep which won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, 2014. His lifelong mission is to establish independent theatre in Turkey, but he has also played Robin Williams' famous character, Mrs Doubtfire.

Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction TV programme in the world. It has been going for 51-years and the lead character has been played by many actors across the years. So why does it have such strong global appeal?

(Picture: Brandon Stanton; a Dalek from Dr Who; Saad Haroon)

Snapping strangers; Dr Who; Funny man;20141115

Saad Haroon has been voted the second funniest man in the world. The comedian was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and despite his family's protests, decided to devote his life to making people laugh. Now based in the US, Saad's biggest achievement to date came at a competition called "Laugh Factory - funniest person in the world": He came second.

German author Uwe Tellkamp used his family's experiences of living in the East German city of Dresden and the country's repressive communist regime as the basis of his prize winning novel "The Tower". Uwe wanted to study to be a doctor, but to get permission to do that he had to agree to extended service in the East German army. He became a tank commander and was sent to prison for refusing to break up a demonstration.

Rapper Nimesh Patel - known as "Nimo," grew up in east Los Angeles. He had a successful career in finance, but when he found success as a rap musician, he turned his back on the trappings of Western status, and took up a simple life, working with slum children in India.

"Humans Of New York" American photographer Brandon Stanton goes up to complete strangers on the street and asks them to share their life stories. It all started when he lost his job in finance and decided to give more time to his hobby, photography. He moved to New York City and set out to photograph 10,000 strangers on the streets. Today his project "Humans Of New York" has become a best selling book.

Haluk Bilginer is a Turkish film and TV actor. He stars in the movie Winter Sleep which won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, 2014. His lifelong mission is to establish independent theatre in Turkey, but he has also played Robin Williams' famous character, Mrs Doubtfire.

Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction TV programme in the world. It has been going for 51-years and the lead character has been played by many actors across the years. So why does it have such strong global appeal?

(Picture: Brandon Stanton; a Dalek from Dr Who; Saad Haroon)

Snapping Strangers; Dr Who; Funny Man;20141115

Saad Haroon has been voted the second funniest man in the world. The comedian was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and despite his family's protests, decided to devote his life to making people laugh. Now based in the US, Saad's biggest achievement to date came at a competition called "Laugh Factory - funniest person in the world": He came second.

German author Uwe Tellkamp used his family's experiences of living in the East German city of Dresden and the country's repressive communist regime as the basis of his prize winning novel "The Tower". Uwe wanted to study to be a doctor, but to get permission to do that he had to agree to extended service in the East German army. He became a tank commander and was sent to prison for refusing to break up a demonstration.

Rapper Nimesh Patel - known as "Nimo," grew up in east Los Angeles. He had a successful career in finance, but when he found success as a rap musician, he turned his back on the trappings of Western status, and took up a simple life, working with slum children in India.

"Humans Of New York" American photographer Brandon Stanton goes up to complete strangers on the street and asks them to share their life stories. It all started when he lost his job in finance and decided to give more time to his hobby, photography. He moved to New York City and set out to photograph 10,000 strangers on the streets. Today his project "Humans Of New York" has become a best selling book.

Haluk Bilginer is a Turkish film and TV actor. He stars in the movie Winter Sleep which won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, 2014. His lifelong mission is to establish independent theatre in Turkey, but he has also played Robin Williams' famous character, Mrs Doubtfire.

Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction TV programme in the world. It has been going for 51-years and the lead character has been played by many actors across the years. So why does it have such strong global appeal?

(Picture: Brandon Stanton; a Dalek from Dr Who; Saad Haroon)

Sophia Loren, Carsick, First Nation Art20141122

Film legend Sophia Loren, Cult director John Waters, Artist Adrian Stimson

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

John Waters, the American film director behind cult films Cry Baby, Serial Mom, Pink Flamingos and Hairspray talks about his latest adventures. Now in his late 60s, he has hitchhiked over 2500 miles from his home in Baltimore on the east coast of the United States to San Francisco on the west. He tells the story in his book Carsick.

Academy Award-winning film star Sophia Loren has a career spanning seven decades. Now 80 years old she has published her memoirs Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life. Born out of wedlock in war torn Naples, she recalls her impoverished childhood through to her rise to global fame and screen legend.

Native Canadian artist Adrian Stimson is a member of the First Nation Sik Sika Black Foot tribe in northern Canada. He served as a war artist in Afghanistan with the Canadian military. Adrian now uses art to draw attention to the history and treatment of First Nation people, including the practice of forcing indigenous children into residential boarding schools.

Sales of George Orwell's novel 1984 have soared in Egypt over the past week, after a student was arrested in Cairo. Why is the book so powerful, after all these years? BBC language service editors Mohamed Yehia and Olexiy Solohubenkho discuss.

The iconic images of Africa are often poverty, disease and war. A new group of photographers, known as the Everyday Africa collective, is now working to reframe the picture of Africa in the eyes of Africans and the wider world. One of its members is the award winning Nigerian photographer, Andrew Esiebo.

Chris Watson has spent more than 30 years travelling the globe recording wildlife for radio and TV. He now turns his work into art, creating sound installations in different locations from art galleries to opera houses. His most recent project has taken him back to nature, to the Kielder Forest in Northumberland on the border of England and Scotland.

(Photo: Left to right - Sophia Loren, Getty Images; John Waters, Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images; Adrian Stimson)

The Best of Outlook Arts - Performers20141227

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Ziggy Marley and the one woman show 'Burq Off' by Nadia Manzoor

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

Nicola Benedetti has been playing the violin since the age of four, and was just 16 when she won the BBC's Young Musician of the Year competition. She is now acclaimed as one of the world's leading violinists, and has recently been turning her attention to traditional Scottish music.

Albert Mazibuko is one of the longest serving members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the South African singing group created over 50 years ago.

Actress Nadia Manzoor was brought up in London in a Pakistani Muslim home where she spent her childhood rebelling against her family. She has now turned her life story into a one woman show called 'Burq Off'.

Ziggy Marley is the eldest son of the legendary reggae artist Bob Marley and a singer-songwriter in his own right. He talks to the BBC's Nicki Paxman about family music and his latest album Fly Rasta.

Grammy-nominated American Jazz singer and songwriter Gregory Porter chose not to pursue a career in American football. He tells Matthew Bannister about the inspiration behind the songs on his new album Liquid Spirit.

Maurillia Simpson from Trinidad carried out three tours of duty in Iraq with the British army. But a serious leg injury forced her to leave her dream job. She's now acting in a stage play called The Two Worlds of Charlie F along with other former soldiers. She tells Nicki Paxman about the hilarious process of rehearsing for the play.

Braz Dos Santos is one of the world's best Lambada dancers. He was making a living as a fisherman in the town of Porto Seguro in southern Brazil where the Lambada craze was born. It has since taken him around the world. His life story has now been made into a new dance show Brazouka.

Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat are sisters from Iran who found fame singing traditional Persian melodies despite the restrictions on women performing in public.

Sole Mio are a singing group from New Zealand consisting of brothers Pene and Amitai Pati and their cousin Moses Mackay. They perform live in the Outlook studio.

Picture: Nicola Benedetti, Ziggy Marley, Gregory Porter
Picture credit Nicola Benedetti - Decca and Simon Fowler; Ziggy Marley - Malia James.

The Best of Outlook Arts: Writers20150103

Including novelists Armistead Maupin, Kathy Reichs and Orhan Pamuk

Life stories of the most interesting people from the world of arts

Matthew Bannister meets novelist Armistead Maupin, the writer best known for his Tales of the City series of novels set in San Francisco.

Exiled Iraqi writer Hassan Blasim talks about the four years he spent as an illegal migrant before finding asylum in Finland. His short story collection is called The Iraqi Christ.

Tore Renberg is one of the most popular writers in his native Norway. He is a big fan of British pop from the 1980s and tells Jo Fidgen how he uses music to create characters in his writing. His latest novel is called See You Tomorrow.

Julia Franck shares the trauma and unhappiness of a childhood spent first in communist East Germany and then in the West. Her book is called Back To Back.

Kathy Reichs is an American author and forensic scientist who has written a series of successful crime novels inspired by her work.

Witi Ihimaera is a prominent Maori writer who draws on the myths of his native New Zealand. He made his name with his book The Whale Rider about a Maori girl who wants to become a chief of her tribe. It was turned into an award-winning film.

Orhan Pamuk is a Nobel prize-winning Turkish novelist who has re-created the unusual museum that features in his novel The Museum of Innocence.

Akhil Sharma was ten years old when his brother was left brain-damaged by an accident in a swimming pool. Akhil describes the profound effect it had on his own life in his autobiographical novel Family Life.

Chen Xiwo is a controversial figure in his native China whose stories deal with dark subjects like voyeurism, murder and incest. His refusal to compromise meant that his books were banned for 20 years in his own country and now his collection of short stories The Book of Sins has been translated into English for the first time.

Picture: From left to right: Armistead Maupin; Tore Renberg; Kathy Reichs.
Picture credits: Armistead Maupin: Mark Mainz/Getty Images; Tore Renberg: Tommy Ellingsen; Kathy Reichs: Ben Mark Holzberg