Trees A Crowd


Tannis Davidson: Bulletproof elephants, 3D-printing a quagga and cloning thylacines

Season 1, Ep. 17

Tannis Davidson is the curator of the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at University College London. From unearthing the dismembered arms of mummies at archaeological digs in Egypt to searching for fossils in Beijing, Tannis has a rich history in researching and examining the stories of the once living. As one of the few people in the world who takes care of animals only once they've died, Tannis' work has her looking after 68,000 specimens. One of the museum’s many accolades is that it houses one of only seven existing quagga skeletons in the world - a type of zebra that is now extinct. Other specimens include biological tissue from the Tasmanian tiger, an elephant tusk with an antique bullet encased within it, a gorilla skeleton which was once photographed hugging H.G.Wells… and a jar of moles!

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Dr Helen Pheby: Sculpture for sheep, and rhubarb trains; the place ‘Extraordinary’ can happen

Season 2, Ep. 7
Dr Helen Pheby is the head of curatorial programmes at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Set in 500 acres of historic parkland, the park has provided a “gallery without walls” for artists such as Elisabeth Frink, Auguste Rodin, Giuseppe Penone, and local legends such as Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. Helen has collaborated on projects in Iraqi Kurdistan, South Africa, India, and even Barnsley! Born in the so-called ‘rhubarb triangle’, Helen reminisces over “the rhubarb express”, a train which ran from her village in Yorkshire to London, and muses over how magical it was being able to see the contrast between rural and urban environments. In this insightful conversation, Helen explains how she believes creativity and art is a human right, how the YSP was visited by Henry VIII, and how another Henry, Henry Moore, believed it was the job of artists to show people the natural world and subsequently designed artwork for sheep. She explains how the Sculpture Park aims to be inclusive, free from the barriers of social standing, wealth and a gender imbalance that art is often associated with. Subsequently, the YSP is now home to brain-controlled helicopters, women on horseback steeplechasing through the landscapes of the First World War, and all of this second to the migratory routes of the Great Crested Newt. In her own words: “We are places the extraordinary can happen.” For more information on this podcast, including David's thoughts following this interview, head to: