Trees A Crowd


Mark Frith: a legacy of Britain's ancient oaks

Season 1, Ep. 1

Mark Frith is an artist and film-maker. His documentaries include “The War on Love”, “Hotel Splendide”, and BAFTA award-winning documentary “The Lie of the Land”. In 2011, he began a project which was commissioned by the late publisher and poet Felix Dennis to draw 20 large scale, intricate portraits of Britain’s ancient oak trees. His series of graphite drawings, which took the best part of a decade to complete, were gifted to the Royal Botanical Society’s permanent collection at Kew and to Felix Dennis’ Heart of England Forest charity. In this in-depth conversation, Mark shares his childhood memories of growing up in Gloucestershire, explains how his spiritual empathy with the natural world helped to create the detail in his drawings which “appeared to draw themselves”, and shares his concerns about the human activities that continue to destroy the natural world.

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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: