Connect with us


Nature And Us – A History Through Art: Future Nature (Series Final BBC Four Mon 25 Oct 2021)



In the concluding episode of the series, James explores how the art of the last 100 years reflects how we swapped nature for progress in the first half of the 20th century before rediscovering its beauty in the decades following World War Two; and how today’s artists are re-imagining our future relationship with nature.

The film begins in the first decades of the 20th century, an era of self-confidence with humans intent on conquering nature.

In the art of Piet Mondrian, James explores how an artist who began life as a landscape painter gradually left nature behind, tidying up the messy reality of nature into abstract lines.

We meet Chinese artist Yang Yongliang on the streets of New York, whose sprawling digital landscapes ask questions about our drive for rapid urbanisation.

James continues to explore this story through the images of one of the best photographers of the 20th century and one of its most brilliant women: Margaret Bourke-White. In 1930 she was the first professional Western photographer to be allowed into the Soviet Union, where she captured the rapid transformation of the country from largely rural into a modern industrial state.

James moves on to explore how the destructive power of the atomic age both terrified and inspired artists in the 1940s and 1950s, from painters like Bittinger to the world of sci-fi films. We then see the arrival of a new kind of art: land art. In the late 60s and 70s a growing number of artists left the city and started working not only in nature, but with it.

We meet two contemporary land artists based in New Zealand, Philippa Jones and Martin Hill, who use natural materials to create sculptures in the landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island. And finally, we explore how the artist collective Random International are using technology to explore our future relationship with nature, through a series of mesmerising art works.

James finishes the episode and the series asking questions of the interviewees who have appeared across the series: how do they see our future relationship with nature?

He concludes that on the long journey we humans have been on since our beginnings, artists have played a vital role not only in reflecting but also shaping our attitudes to nature. They’ve helped us understand its intricacy, appreciate its beauty, and now – when this entire planet seems under threat they can help us forge a new relationship with it.

Nature and Us – A History Through Art is a Keo Films and What Larks Production. The series director is Ben Harding, the series producers is Alex Brisland and Claire Whalley is the executive producer. It was commissioned for BBC Arts and BBC Four by Emma Cahusac.

Airdate: Monday 25 October 2021 at 9.00pm on BBC Four.

Season 1 Episode 3 (of 3)