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Open Country

Podcast Open Country
Podcast Open Country

Open Country


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  • How to build and paint a bird nest
    Blackbirds, wrens, reed warblers, yellowhammers, sparrows and crows - this is a programme about British birds and the places where they live. One day botanical painter Susan Ogilvy found a strange object on her lawn. It was damp and green, and had been blown out of a tree by a storm. Once it had dried it fluffed up into a beautiful chaffinch nest. Susan was entranced and began to paint it. "Birds follow their own architecture but they use the materials they find around them - twigs and grasses and leaves, and they use them in the spring when they are young and bendy. When we see them in the autumn they've dried up, so everything has become much more brittle." Over the last five years she's painted another seventy abandoned nests, and she's been increasingly helped by neighbours who find them, plus a local expert, Deon Warner. This programme is as much about Deon as it is about Susan herself. Together they stride out across the local Somerset landscape to see what they can find. Produced by Miles Warde with readings by Emily Knight.
  • North Channel
    The North Channel is the stretch of water which lies between Scotland and Northern Ireland. At its narrowest, it's just 13 miles wide. In this programme, Helen Mark explores the stories surrounding the journeys which are made from one side to the other. She meets one of the crew working on the passenger ferries which plough back and forth and learns what life is like for those whose working lives centre around this journey. She hears about the sad story of the Princess Victoria - a ferry which sank making the crossing in 1953, with the loss of more than 130 lives. There have been suggestions for a fixed crossing, either a bridge or a tunnel, for more than a century - an idea recently revived by Boris Johnson. Helen asks an architect whether it could ever really happen. She also meets a woman preparing to try and make the crossing under her own steam, by swimming between the two coasts - braving the cold, the currents and the jellyfish. Helen reflects on her own personal relationship with the North Channel - having been born on one side, but lived most of her life on the other - and asks whether this narrow strip of sea serves to connect or divide the people on either side. Produced by Emma Campbell.
  • A Fabric Landscape
    Fashion designer and judge of The Great British Sewing Bee, Patrick Grant, has a dream: he wants to create a line of jeans made in Blackburn. It sounds simple, but Patrick wants to go the whole hog - growing the crop to make the fabric in Blackburn, growing the woad to dye it blue in Blackburn and finally processing the flax into linen and sewing it all Blackburn. In this programme, the writer and broadcaster Ian Marchant travels to a tiny field of flax on the side of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, where Patrick and a group of passionate local people are trying to make this dream a reality, and bring the textile industry back to Blackburn. But why? Blackburn and the area around it has been shaped by the textile industry for centuries, with the carcasses of old cotton mills littering the landscape. Ian visits Imperial Mill to hear what life was like for workers there in the industry's heyday. He finds out how Patrick and the team have been inspired by the visit of Mahatma Gandhi to Lancashire 90 years ago and learns why cotton made for a complicated relationship between Imperial Britain and India. Presented by Ian Marchant Produced by Heather Simons
  • People and Stone
    Archaeologist and artist Rose Ferraby explores the connections between people and stone on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, where as a child she used to watch adders basking in the old quarries and hunt for crickets on the limestone cliffs. There’s a waymaker on the coastal path; a swirling ammonite fossil emerges alongside deep cut letters and chisel marks. “For me this sums up what stone is“ says Rose, “a meeting place of people and earth.” Over the years, Rose has become increasingly interested in the links and stories which connect people and stone, and in this programme she returns to Dorset to meet a geologist, a fossil collector and a father and son whose quarry has been in the family since the 17th century. She also follows a trail of dinosaur footprints and braves an underground tunnel as she explores the relationships between people and stone. Produced by Sarah Blunt for BBC Audio in Bristol.
  • Northumberland Sound Walk
    A conversation between the Tipalt Burn and Hadrian’s Wall, a legend about treasure that is buried under Thirlwall castle, the conflict between urban and rural life, the significance of the wall, hidden and lost sounds and the migration and transformation of stone are all themes which feature in an immersive sound walk through a Northumberland landscape. Open Country meets several of the artists, poets, musicians, singers, storytellers, composers and writers who were involved in creating this four-mile walk near the village of Greenhead. We discover how they were inspired by the landscape and community of this area and find out how their work was realised. The story begins in December 2020 when Green Croft Arts commissioned 14 artists with strong links to Northumberland and Cumbria to explore the theme of ‘Collision and Conflict’ for a geolocator sound walk which was launched in the spring of 2021. Participants are invited to downloaded an app onto their phones, and then follow a route marked on a map through the landscape. The artistic responses – a mix of music, storytelling, spoken word and sounds - are linked to specific locations along the route. They are triggered as the walker approaches and can be heard through headphones. It’s an extraordinary immersive journey exploring the past and present, local and global, landscape, hidden sounds, community and culture. Producer Sarah Blunt FOR MORE INFORMATION Green Croft Arts

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