First broadcast BBC Radio 3, June 2017

imageA Sunday Feature on the artists Terry Frost and Patrick Heron, and their unlikely friendship, founded on abstract painting and rooted in post-war St Ives.

The Flower Fields

First broadcast Radio 4, October 2012

MB with Robert Body at Nanpusker Farm, Hayle, Cornwall

MB with Robert Body at Nanpusker Farm, Hayle, Cornwall

A mysterious, dense network of overgrown field walls covers the south-facing coastal slopes between the Cornish village of Mousehole and Land’s End. This programme uncovers the history of these tiny fields, or quillets, and the survival of the Cornish flower-growing industry from Victorian times to today.

‘Michael Bird’s lovely atmospheric piece’ (John Mount, Radio Times ‘Critic’s Choice’). ‘The Flower Fields’ was radio ‘Pick of the Day’ in the Daily Telegraph, The Times, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and Independent.

The Wreck of the Alba 

First broadcast Radio 4, July 2009

The story of the night in January 1938 when the steamship Alba foundered on a headland at St Ives in Cornwall. The old self-taught painter and sometime mariner and scrap-dealer Alfred Wallis lived just yards away. He painted the wreck compulsively, and the programme centres on one of these paintings, now in the Tate collection.

Alfred Wallis, Wreck of the Alba (c.1938-39). Wallis’s cottage in St Ives is just out-of-frame to the bottom right of the painting.

Local people recall how townsfolk turned out in the storm to save the crew from drowning. The Alba‘s cargo of Welsh coal was on its way to Mussolini’s Italy. The programme makes connections between the wild night of the wreck and the wider history of the Appeasement era.

Lanyon’s Last Flight

First broadcast Radio 4, March 2011

lanyon-1The story of the artist Peter Lanyon’s passion for gliding. Lanyon died in a glider accident in 1964. The programme explores the influence of gliding on his work. With contributions from Lanyon’s sons Andrew, Matthew and Martin and recordings of Lanyon himself and his friend Mark Rothko.