How to Name a Tree with Richard Layzell


Renowned performance artist Richard Layzell releases a video work for Norwich Arts Centre this January, exactly one year after giving a performance in person at Tilted East Festival on 25 January 2020.

Back in January 2020, when it was still possible to gather audiences inside, artist Richard Layzell presented ‘How to Name a Tree’ at Norwich Arts Centre. Planning to return to Norwich in the summer, we all know what happened next. Stuck at home like everyone else, Layzell thought about how he could continue to reach audiences around the UK and has developed a series of films for LUX in London, Stroud Valleys Artspace in Gloucestershire, Colchester Arts Centre in Essex, and now the fourth in the series made specially for Norwich Arts Centre. ‘How to Name a Tree’ is a witty and engaging reflection on what might have happened had the artist been able to return to Norwich in person.

Our doors may be shut at the moment,” says Norwich Arts Centre Director Pasco-Q Kevlin, “but there’s never been a better time to tune in to a wonderful adventure from your sofa. Richard Layzell’s ‘How to Name a Tree’ is the kind of programming we love bringing to Norwich: surprising and enriching. We are always taking artistic risks and trying to find new ways to reach our audiences, even in a pandemic.”

Watch this lockdown gem from the comfort of your home and ponder on our caretaking of the natural world, the traces left by humans and the pandemic affecting ash, elm and oaks trees that has been going on right under our noses for years…

‘How to Name a Tree’ is part of Layzell’s ongoing project ‘The Naming’, in which he works with maverick environmentalist Kino Paxton to challenge the ways we distance ourselves from aspects of the natural world by categorising and naming things. Since 2018, Layzell and Paxton’s project has taken him from the tidal reach of the River Avon to the highways of Seoul, via the misspelled shopping malls of Canada and the exquisite song of the pied butcherbird in Australia. Layzell and Paxton take a playful and intuitive approach to a subject that is hugely important to them: Deep ecology, an environmental philosophy that promotes the inherent worth of all living things regardless of their seeming usefulness to human beings.

Richard Layzell website