Sensing Trees

Beth Robertson artist and Stevie Wishart, music composer, with Brian Ogden, arboriculturalist
An event for Norfolk & Norwich Festival

Sensing Trees is an exciting live and interactive conversation about trees, sound, music and experience, for Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Accompanying our current exhibition Art for the Environment, this event involves exhibiting artist Beth Robertson in conversation with distinguished contemporary composer Stevie Wishart. The two artists will be joined by Brian Ogden, Arboricultural Officer for King’s Lynn Borough Council. This will be an afternoon full of conversations, exploration, different experiences and sensory surprises.


Sunday 12 May
3-6 pm

Bookings via Norfolk & Norwich Festival
Book here:

Tickets £18 , Concessions £16
Further enquiries:

ACE logo
Beth Robertson in Taleggio

Sensing Trees: outline of the event

3.00 – 4.00

The conversation will begin by exploring quite different experiences of trees. Brian Ogden is a passionate and experienced local authority Tree Officer and Arboriculturalist. He will ask us the overall question: Why do we take trees for granted?’
The two artists definitely don’t take trees for granted. They have much in common to discuss, but also fascinating differences in approach and artistic results. Beth is a sound artist interested in ambient sound, who also uses visual material. Stevie is a music composer who translates her acute listening, into musical notation. Both are involved with symbiotic relationships between humans, trees and other life forms through both sound and sense.
4.15 -5.30
After a cup of tea, we will join the artists on an exploratory walk led by Brian Ogden,
to King’s Lynn’s beautiful town park, The Walks. There he will talk a little about the different tree species, their characteristics, where they come from and any notable individuals. The artists will also talk more about their practice, how they listen and how they create in very different ways. There might be a chance to experiment with sound – who knows? For sure we will listen to trees very carefully together.

After this event you will probably never experience trees in quite the same way.

5.30 – 6.00

We will end back at the gallery for an exclusive look at the exhibition and a glass of wine (or more tea)

Brian Ogden
Brian Ogden sensing an extraordinary tree

More about the artists

Beth Robertson

Beth Robertson
Beth Robertson

.Beth’s work ‘Becoming Tree’ on show at GroundWork, blurs distinctions between our fleshy and vegetal bodies and responds to sensations through field recordings.

This is how she described the work which she made on her residency in Taleggio, Italy:

The air in Taleggio valley was a movement, passing back and forth between the CO2 I exhale and the leaves that absorb and convert it to oxygen which I then inhale, it’s one breath. I felt an overwhelming sense of becoming-tree.

Sound isn’t an object with clear boundaries or lines to distinguish self from other, it’s an ever-shifting space that exists between things, in the moments where one thing becomes another. Therefore, sound was the perfect medium to blur the boundaries between bodies, to vocalise the symbiotic breath in Taleggio, my vegetal self and the fleshiness of trees.

Beth Robertson
Parlour of Psithurism
Beth Robertson: Proposal for Parlour of Psithurism, on show at GroundWork

Beth aims to queer our relationship with the environment through sound

Beth Robertson is a sound artist based in London and Glasgow. Her intra-disciplinary practise seeks to queer the relationship we have with our environment through sound. With a background in Geography, Beth creates work that celebrates the hybridity of humans. Her innovative practice uses activist listening in response to the climate crisis

Through the use of field recordings, photography and composition she creates sound maps and installations. These investigate entangled local ecologies and experiment with shifting place identities. Beth further explores these themes in a monthly radio show on Resonance FM.

Stevie Wishart

Stevie Wishart
Stevie Wishart

Stevie Wishart aims to make us more aware of our relationships with nature using ambient sound relationships as a means to create a musical score.
Exploring music’s unique ability to express ideas on a level which transcends other routes of communication is what motivates Stevie’s work as a music composer and improviser. 
Concern for the environment is a natural extension of Wishart’s creativity.: she is a member of (an international network for creating sustainable futures).

Birds and trees are often a focus for Stevie’s work as a musical composer

Stevie Wishart playing hurdy gurdy in a forest
Stevie Wishart playing the hurdy gurdy at 2023 Timber Festival

Much of Stevie’s work in the last few years has been with and about birds, however trees have also been a consistent focus. Stevie is a founder member and the composer for a network research project called “Ecotones – soundscapes with trees”. This has won an ESRC award directed by Prof Amanda Bayley (Bath Spa University) which includes partners and speakers such as Won Sop Shin, Professor of Social Forestry at Chungbuk University and President of the Society of Nature and Forest Medicine in South Korea, biologist and tree author David Haskell and Forest Research (research agency of the Forestry Commission). For the Ecotones Network Stevie has conducted workshops listening to trees and performed with Hakoto at the 2023 Timber Festival.

Some highlights of Stevie’s distinguished and varied experience as composer and musical performer

Educated at the University of York, the University of Oxford and the Guildhall School of Music and studying informally with John Cage in Edinburgh, Stevie’s early career was playing with leading free jazz improvisers in London, Berlin, New York and with Machine for Making Sense in Australia, while also launching her own medieval music ensemble Sinfonye which won the MAfestival competition in Brugge. She has taught composition for the Dartington international summer school, and also had a visiting fellowship in composition at the University of Cambridge, as well as being a judge for the Brugge and York early music festivals, and for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s composer awards. 

She has performed and had her compositions played at major venues including the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Festival Hall in London, the Sydney Opera House and St Peter’s Basilica Rome. She has recorded for Decca, Hyperion, Glossa records and Splitrec as well as for her own and other indie labels. More recently she has collaborated with Alice Oswald (Oxford Professor of Poetry), composed for the Hermes Experiment at The Barbican, the pianist Joanna MacGregor, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and for the contemporary music Ensemble Variances directed by Thierry Pecou with whom she had a Residency at Britten Pears Arts in Snape, Aldeburgh. 

Tree pic