Trees A Crowd


Dr Jess French: Two legs, good – six legs, better! One woman and her many minibeasts

Season 1, Ep. 14

Dr Jess French is a veterinary surgeon, writer and television presenter. She fronts the CBeebies show Minibeast Adventureand has recently published the book, How to Help a Hedgehog and Protect a Polar Bear, both aimed at getting our younger generations excited by the world they have a part share in. Unflinching when it comes to handling insects, as a child she didn’t realise her love of tiny creatures was unusual – but it eventually earned her the nickname ‘the bug girl’, and ultimately a career she loves. Prodding David with an “Are you scared?” as she unveils the millipedes, this fascinating chat is full of many wonderful moments of distraction, from a tarantula in a box firmly labelled ‘do not open’, to a leaf insect climbing onto the microphone.

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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: