Art That Made Us 5 May 2022: ‘Consumers and Conscience’ on BBC Two

Art That Made Us 5 May 2022: 'Consumers and Conscience' on BBC Two 11

Consumers and Conscience – Series 1 Episode 5 of 8 – This episode traces the story of Britain during the 18th century, a period that saw an explosion of creativity and a country with enough money, from trade and conquest, to pay for it. But the money had a dark side: sculptor Thomas J Price visits Harewood House to see the elaborate Robert Adam-designed interiors, Joshua Reynolds portraits and Thomas Chippendale furniture that were paid for by the slave trade.

This was also the great age of mockery, and artist Lubaina Himid reflects on William Hogarth’s scabrous exposure of upper-class hypocrisies, while comedian Stewart Lee analyses the cutting humour of A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift’s bitter satire about the treatment of the Irish poor, with passages performed by actor Jason Isaacs.

An age of exploitation was stirring up a growing social conscience. Emma Bridgewater examines how potter Josiah Wedgwood fought a campaign against slavery with teapots and porcelain medallions, while Martin Rowson analyses his hero James Gillray’s invention of the biting political cartoon, poking fun at all sides. The Georgian era was also a great age of writing, from Olaudah Equiano’s searing account of enslavement to Jane Austen’s classic novels. Sculptor Douglas Gordon explores what Robert Burns, with his distinctive dialect and poems of ordinary life, still means to Scots today.

About Art That Made Us

An alternative history of the British Isles, told through art.

This show is broadcast on BBC Two, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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