Learn about the Original Frieze

The story behind Sue Mason's original artwork and concept

Original 1

In August 2018, Sue Mason reached out to the Linnean Society with an exciting offer. Sue had created a 370cm long and 59cm wide banner, showcasing 350 annotated creatures running along a timeline which, unlike the usual Tree of Life model, showed explosions, extinctions and co-evolution.

Sue worked as a freelance artist for RBG Kew for over 25 years, and is also a mathematician.

The 'Frieze', as she called it, was inspired by Harry Beck’s iconic London Underground map, which is instantly recognisable, and was designed to provide an simple view of a complicated picture.


Original 2

Sue had toured the Frieze with the Biochemical Society, and was looking for further ways to share her unique work with young people with the hope of exciting children's interest and imagination and perhaps encouraging them to study science up to GCSE and beyond.

The Education Manager of the Linnean Society, Joe Burton, was enamoured by detail and variety displayed on the Frieze, and wanted to find a way to utilise Sue's work. However, the Frieze was made of standard paper stitched together with tape, and each species was glued onto the surface.

Joe began the process of digitisation. He recreated each of Sue's 350+ drawings, while Sue began compiling information and facts about each species on a vast spreadsheet, as well as drawing new species.


Two years later...

After two years of digitisation, discussions and (re-)drafting, the Society had over 400 digital drawings of different species and information to match.

Stories in Time is now a growing resource package available for teachers and young people to use freely; and the Society will continue to produce new resources which will illustrate different stories in time.