Countercurrent Podcast

About the Podcast: Countercurrent with Professor Roger Kneebone

A podcast for people who like the unexpected. Join the surgeon and academic Professor Roger Kneebone in conversation with unorthodox people whose careers defy traditional boundaries and who swim against the tide.

With grateful thanks to Justin Margovan for his expert production support for Countercurrent since the start.

Many of the people in Countercurrent feature in my book Expert: Understanding the Path to Mastery (Penguin Viking, 2020).

Available to listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Libsyn.

LATEST EPISODE

Sheila Hayman in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Sheila Hayman is a documentary film maker who has been exploring the relationship between people and technology for over forty years. In this conversation we explore issues around sustainability, artificial intelligence and what it means to be human.

https://www.sheilahayman.com

Categories

Filter episodes by area of interest

Art & Design

27/11/2023

Andrew Grundon in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Andrew Grundon is an artist who draws, paints and sculpts. He designs and paints traditional pub signs, makes marionettes and is writing and illustrating a novel. In this podcast we discuss the remarkable range of skills which he has gained over many decades and explore how he continues to defy conventional categories and push the boundaries of his work. In November 2023 Andrew became Maker of the Year in the 2023 Heritage Crafts Awards. https://signaturesignsuk.com

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

30/10/2023

Abigail Bainbridge in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Abigail Bainbridge is a book conservator and Director of Bainbridge Conservation. She teaches on many degree programmes, including at West Dean College, Camberwell College of Art and City & Guilds of London Art School. She sits on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Heritage Science Expert Working Group and is the editor of Conservation of Books, which was published in 2023. https://www.bainbridgeconservation.com/aboutus

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

19/06/2023

Maiko Tsutsumi in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Maiko Tsutsumi studied furniture making and Japanese lacquer work as an apprentice in her native Japan in the 1990s. After moving to London and studying furniture design at the Royal College Art, she worked for a design studio in London. Having completed a PhD (entitled The Poetics of Everyday Objects) she took up a teaching role at Camberwell College of Arts. Now working independently, Maiko’s interests cross many boundaries. https://www.maikotsutsumi.com

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

21/11/2022

Peter Randall-Page in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Peter Randall-Page is internationally known for his carvings in stone, often at massive scale and in public places. He is fascinated by connections between ideas, metaphors and the natural world. Much of his work is inspired by nature and underpinned by mathematics. https://www.peterrandall-page.com His current exhibition at the Pangolin Gallery in London runs from 16 November 2022 until 14 January 2023 https://www.pangolinlondon.com/exhibitions/115-peter-randall-page/works/

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

24/10/2022

Monica Lalanda in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Monica Lalanda spent much of her career as an emergency doctor. She has always had a passion for drawing and developed a parallel career as a graphic artist, developing the concept of ‘graphic pathographies’ to help patients and their carers express their responses to illness. She has explored graphic medicine in a number of areas, including medical ethics and graphic recording of conference presentations. In this conversation we explore how our different experiences of medicine and healthcare intersect. www.monicalalanda.com

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

26/9/22

Hansjorg Schmidt in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Hansjorg Schmidt heads the MA Light in Performance programme at Rose Bruford College in London. In this conversation he explains how he uses light when designing theatrical productions, and we explore ideas about the role of light in professional settings.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

23/05/2022

Johnny Messum in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Johnny Messum has a background in art history. In 2016 he established Messums Wiltshire, a multi-purpose gallery and arts centre in a converted 13th century tithe barn in Tisbury, near Salisbury. In this conversation we discuss the nature of craftsmanship and explore the triangular relationship between artist/maker, gallerist and buyer/collector, with underlying connections based on trust and care.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

11/04/2022

Rick Dove in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Rick and I collaborated on Experimental Words, a project bringing together the perspectives of artists and scientists through the medium of poetry. In this conversation we explore Rick’s approach to collaborative work, bringing together his background in psychology with his work as a poet and performance artist.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

28/02/2022

Tilda Lewis in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Tilda Lewis has a longstanding fascination with historical costume design and creation, having studied at Wimbledon College of Arts. Especially passionate about eighteenth century women’s hats and bonnets, Tilda talks to me about the role of ‘trimming’ at that time, and the subtleties of hat-wearing then and now.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

14/02/2022

Alan Powers in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Alan Powers has been fascinated by twentieth century architecture throughout his career. Alongside his work as an architectural historian and teacher he is a well-known author, watercolour artist and print maker. In this conversation we explore similarities and differences between our ways of seeing and thinking.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

31/01/2022

Edwina Ibbotson in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Edwina Ibbotson is a couture milliner who studied in London, New York and Paris. She’s known for combining striking designs with meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail. Based in London, she is a member of the British Hat Guild and the Art Workers’ Guild and has had work exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

17/01/2022

Peter Morris in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Peter Morris is managing director of the London-based architectural practice AAHM (Alford, Hall, Monaghan, Morris). He and his partners design buildings with a huge variety of scale and style. In this conversation we discuss similarities and differences between practising architecture and medicine and explore the role of the ‘expert generalist’.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

30/08/2021

Emily Kneebone in conversation with Roger Kneebone

The classicist Dr Emily Kneebone talks to me about her recent book Oppian’s Halieutica: Charting a Didactic Epic (published by Cambridge University Press in September 2020). We discuss how Oppian's overlooked 3,500-line poem from the second century AD provides insights into relationships between people, fish and nature in the ancient world - issues that continue to confront us all today.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

02/08/2021

Jeff Mills in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Jeff Mills served a four-year apprenticeship in the 1980s, learning every aspect of his trade through constant repetition. As he became more experienced he began to lead teams of painters, working on large construction projects. Now he focuses more on small-scale work where he can attend to every aspect of a job himself. In this conversation we exchange ideas about what it means to become expert.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

19/04/2021

Jonathan Burrows in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Jonathan Burrows trained as a dancer with the Royal Ballet before forming his own group and developing his career as a choreographer. He collaborates widely and his longstanding work with the composer and performer Matteo Fargion has continued over decades. In this conversation we explore the idea of choreography within and beyond the world of dance.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

08/02/2021

Jeanie Finlay in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Jeanie Finlay is an artist and documentary film maker. Her 8 films include Seahorse, Orion: The Man Who Would Be King, and Game of Thrones: The Last Watch. In this podcast she describes her approach to film making and we explore parallels with other kinds of expert performance - including medicine.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

25/01/2021

Michele Clapton in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Michele Clapton has a stellar career as a costume designer, winning many awards for her creative work in film and television. Her designs for Game of Thrones and The Crown are widely acclaimed. In this conversation we explore how she inspires and brings together teams of craftspeople as she develops her vision for each production.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

01/01/2021

Antony Gormley in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Sir Antony Gormley RA is a well-known British sculptor who tries to ‘identify the space of art as a place of becoming in which new behaviours, thoughts and feelings can arise’. In this conversation we explore how our perspectives from art and medicine intersect and sometimes overlap.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

14/12/2020

Eleanor Crook in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Eleanor Crook trained in sculpture at Central Saint Martin’s and the Royal Academy Schools. She is widely known for her wax sculptures inspired by human anatomy and for the emotional intensity of her work. In this podcast we explore the regions where sculpture, anatomy and medicine intersect.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

21/09/2020

Brian Lobel in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Brian Lobel is Professor of Theatre and Performance at Rose Bruford College. His personal experience of cancer when he was 20 has shaped his career as a performer and a passionate advocate for patients’ voices. Brian and I got to know one another when we were both Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellows, and we share an interest in crossing conventional disciplinary boundaries.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

28/06/2020

Erma Hermens in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Erma Hermans combines academic knowledge with practical skill. Trained as a painting conservator and holding a doctorate in art history, Erma is also an art teacher and has a wide knowledge of fine and decorative arts. In this conversation we discuss what it means to become an ‘expert generalist’, exploring parallels between her world and my experience as a clinician. Erma is fascinated by the ‘material biography’ of each object she works with, interpreting its construction and history in the context of our contemporary lives.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

23/03/2020

Merlin Strangeway in conversation with Roger Kneebone

In this podcast we discuss Merlin’s work as an medical illustrator, exploring her fascination with narrative and the need to make sense of people’s stories. Merlin’s unorthodox career has moved from studying English and History at university to developing a widening array of skills around illustration, including drawing, painting, wax modelling and using digital technology.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

09/02/2020

Joshua Byrne in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Joshua Byrne designs and creates men’s jackets and suits. Starting from scratch with each garment he makes Joshua begins by identifying the needs of his customer. Each garment takes shape through a series of fittings, each depending on knowledge, skill and the Joshua’s ability to improvise. This has illuminating parallels with the world of medicine. In this podcast we explore how Joshua’s experience and mine shine light on one another’s practices.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

13/01/2020

Anthony Luvera in conversation with Roger Kneebone

In this podcast we discuss Anthony’s work as a socially engaged artist who works extensively with people who have experienced homelessness. Through his work with assisted self-portraits he creates shared experiences with people in diverse communities. In this conversation we explore similarities and differences between our professional experiences.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

15/09/2019

Sir Nicholas Serota in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Nicholas Serota’s studies moved from economics to art history before he became Director of the Whitechapel Gallery in London. He was appointed Director of the Tate in 1988 and was responsible for the conversion of Bankside Power Station into Tate Modern, one of the world’s most successful art gallery spaces. Since 2017 he has been Chair of Arts Council England. In this conversation we explore the challenges and opportunities we have both experienced in our careers.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

17/05/2019

Fabrice Ringuet in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Fabrice Ringuet has been a hair stylist for 35 years. Initially trained in France, he has made his career in the UK, first as a stylist and then as a teacher and hair styling coach. In this podcast we explore unexpected parallels between hair styling and medicine, where technical expertise must be matched by sensitivity, performance and interpersonal skill.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

29/04/2019

Bridget Bailey in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Bridget Bailey is a leading textile artist and designer who co-founded the Bailey Tomlin brand, creating and producing millinery for major labels. In this conversation we explore ideas around inspiration, precision and perfectionism. Over the years Bridget has moved from creating ‘trim’ for hats to more abstracted work which has echoes of the natural world.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

15/04/2019

Phil Wilson in conversation with Roger Kneebone

In this conversation the distinguished medical artist Phil Wilson and I explore how expertise in illustration allows medical artists to convey the essence of a clinical procedure or anatomical idea. We dissect the notion of visual narrative and discuss how Phil’s perspectives as an artist and my perspectives as a clinician intersect and overlap. Phil describes how the shift from pen and watercolour to working in the digital arena entails radical new techniques, but how the essentials of close observation remain unchanged.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

08/04/2019

Jeremy Herbert in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Jeremy Herbert’s career has taken many unexpected swerves. He is fascinated by the aesthetics and the practicalities of design, both in theatre and outside. An expert maker with a strong sense of the mechanical, he creates imaginative landscapes for a wide range of productions. In this conversation we discuss how our different perspectives on practicality overlap and intersect.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

01/04/2019

Jane Dorner in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Jane Dorner’s first career was in publishing. From art editor for Longman’s and then as fiction reader for Penguin. After thirty years she fell in love with glass-making and developed a parallel career designing and making art works in glass. In this conversation we discuss the similarities and differences between our worlds of medicine, publishing and the arts.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

11/02/2019

James Peto in conversation with Roger Kneebone

James Peto’s interests range from art history and contemporary design to the creation of ground-breaking exhibitions at the Wellcome Trust. Our discussion explores how these interests have helped to form the Wellcome Collection’s identity as an intersection between medicine, science and the arts.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

28/01/2019

Angela Barrett in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Angela Barrett is one of the UK’s leading illustrators of children’s books. Her much-loved works include Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Diary of Anne Frank. Her illustrations combine an inspired imagination with detail and humour, resulting in imaginary worlds of extraordinary power. In this conversation we explore the relationship between words and images and draw parallels between our very different worlds.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

24/12/2018

Rebecca Salter in conversation with Roger Kneebone

The artist Rebecca Salter RA was elected Keeper of the Royal Academy in 2017. In this podcast we discuss her fascination with drawing, her time as a Leverhulme Scholar in Japan, the differences between Eastern and Western artistic cultures and her role at the Royal Academy of Arts

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

20/08/2018

Susie Hopkins in conversation with Roger Kneebone

The distinguished couture hattist Susie Hopkins describes how she became entranced by hats while an art student in Vienna. After becoming a Master in Austria she moved to a Paris fashion house as their creative designer. Her subsequent career in London has included teaching at the London College of Fashion. Susie is not only a gifted designer and maker but an expert in creating bespoke hats for weddings and special occasions. This requires high levels of interpersonal skill, and her expertise has interesting parallels with my own experience as a clinician working with the complex family relationships and tensions of my patients. In this podcast we explore similarities and differences between our perspectives.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

06/08/2018

Andrew Garlick in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Andrew Garlick is one of the UK’s leading harpsichord makers and has been creating instruments for 45 years. In this conversation we explore what drew him to this specialised field, and how his skills as a craftsman, an artist and a creator of sound worlds have come together to create over 250 instruments.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

23/07/2018

Vicki Ambery-Smith in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Vicki Ambery-Smith is one of the country’s leading silversmiths, with work in major collections around the world. She specialises in creating tiny, exquisitely beautiful sculptures of buildings that can be worn as jewellery. We discuss how she designs and creates these tiny works of art and explore how her skills in the workshop are an expression of the human relationships she develops with those who commission her work. In the process we uncover unexpected similarities with the world of medicine.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

09/07/2018

Dr Simon Chaplin in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Simon Chaplin’s varied career has included studying history and philosophy of science, directing the Museum and Special Collections at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, heading the Wellcome Library and becoming Director of Culture and Society at Wellcome Trust and Director of the Wellcome Collection. We explore our different perspectives on anatomical museums and their contents, drawing on Simon’s engagement with the physicality of anatomical specimens and my experience of dissection and prosection. The conversation ranges from the disciplines of close observation to the skills of maintaining old tractor engines before exploring what has prompted us both to take unexpected directions in our careers.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

25/06/2018

Katherine Coleman in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Katharine Coleman is one of the country’s leading glass engravers. She moved from being a hispanophone historian of sixteenth century Spanish American history to a fascination with the ancient craftsmanship of glass and a painstaking mastery of her craft. In our conversation we explore how a deep knowledge of this extraordinary material allows Katharine to exploit its instabilities as she creates her exquisite work.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

30/04/2018

Brigid Edwards in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Brigid Edwards works at a nexus where science, art and craftsmanship are inextricably linked. We explore how her images of the natural world capture an essence of the plants and animals she works with, and how her awareness of colour and texture infuses her work.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

16/04/2018

Jane Smith in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Jane Smith has been making hats for over forty years, working with some of the country’s leading actors, directors and designers in film and theatre. In this podcast we explore how theatrical hat-making demands detailed knowledge, three-dimensional thinking, craftsmanship and the ability to improvise under pressure - characteristics of clinical practice too.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

19/02/2018

Isabella Kocum in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Isabella Kokum studied gilding and frame conservation in Switzerland before going to America to train in classical ballet and modern dance. A gifted artist whose work defies orthodox disciplinary distinctions, Isabella’s expertise in wood-carving, ceramics and frame-making underpins her work at the National Gallery and beyond.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

05/02/2018

Phil Abel in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Phil Abel studied biology at university. After reading Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance he underwent a radical change in direction, becoming one of the country’s leading letterpress printers and establishing Hand & Eye Letterpress. More recently he has been Master of the Art Workers Guild. In this conversation we discuss similarities and differences between our experiences and explore issues of craftsmanship and embodied knowing.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

16/10/2017

Professor David Cotterrell in conversation with Roger Kneebone

David Cotterrell is an installation artist whose work crosses many boundaries. Working all over the world, from Shanghai’s burgeoning cityscape to a military trauma unit at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, David defies traditional classification. He challenges himself and his ideas through a continual drive towards artistic discomfort. In this extended conversation recorded on David’s converted coal barge on the River Thames we explore how medicine and art can intersect in surprising ways.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

04/09/2017

Harrison Pearce in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Harrison Pearce is an artist and philosopher whose work brings together many interests and influences. Much of his artistic work is shaped and inspired by his fascination with analytical philosophy. In this discussion we explore how art, philosophy and medicine intersect in unexpected ways, and how conversation provides a framework for enquiry.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

19/02/2017

Alex Julyan in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Alex Julyan is a visual artist and creative producer, responsible amongst many things for the official opening event of the Crick Institute. She’s also a Welcome Trust Engagement Fellow. I first encountered her work through Lost in Translation, a collaboration with a musician in Zurich which explored how two people in different places negotiated issues of drawing and description.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

23/01/2017

Fleur Oakes in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Fleur Oakes is one of the UK’s leading needle lace makers. We discuss her path from art school to fashion design, and from being a bespoke corset-maker to becoming entranced by the beauty and precision of lace. Fleur’s work is inspired by natural forms, and now she is lace-maker in residence in the vascular surgery unit at St Mary’s Hospital in London.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

31/10/2016

Nick Fox Weber in conversation with Roger Kneebone

The art historian and philanthropist Nicholas Fox Weber runs the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and leads a non-profit organisation to improve medical care in Senegal. A prolific writer, he is the author of fourteen books, on topics ranging from the Albers to the Bauhaus and the art of Babar the Elephant.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

19/09/2016

Prue Cooper in conversation with Roger Kneebone

The potter Prue Cooper trained initially as a visual artist and came to making slipware after a varied career in other directions. We discuss how changes in direction can bring interesting perspectives, and explore how visual imagination, attentive observation and a willingness to take risks are characteristics of medicine and bioscience as well as of pottery.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

22/08/2016

Andrew Davidson in conversation with Roger Kneebone

The illustrator and wood engraver Andrew Davidson combines artistry and craftsmanship in a career spanning decades. In this podcast he explains how imagination, draughtsmanship, dexterity and judgement come together to create unique works of art, and we discuss how surgery and medicine have similar characteristics.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN

11/07/2016

Beth McKillop in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Beth McKillop’s career has ranged from studying Chinese language and literature, becoming an authority on Chinese and Korean works of art and finally being appointed Deputy Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Our conversation explores points of connection and divergence between our two careers.

LISTEN ON LIBSYN
Web design by This Is Spoken