Trees A Crowd


Chris Watson (Part One): The winds catching the conifers – and the secrets of the dawn chorus

Season 1, Ep. 15

Chris Watson is the president of the Wildlife Sound Recording Society. He’s worked on a range of television and radio documentaries, alongside the likes of Sir David Attenborough. In this serene example of ‘slow radio’, Chris takes David to Stonehaugh, part of the Kielder Forest, in the early hours of the morning. As he sets up his microphones, he explains what goes into capturing each intricate sound. The pair relax as they listen to the epic build up of the dawn chorus, beginning with the night wind rushing through the conifers, and only a tawny owl or two for company. As the soundscape crescendos, the sounds of wrens, nuthatches, chiffchaffs, mistle thrushes, deviously bullish robins and even roe deer begin to break through. 100 meters away from the hidden microphones, Chris and David bathe in the “sound of a place where we can never be”.

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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: