Now the party’s over….

….the work is down, returned to the artists or posted off to their new homes so I thought I’d just do a little recap before I let you know what’s coming next.

In the beginning, there was the book by Steven Falk 

and a publication by Friends of the Earth.


Then came masses of planning and administration and emails and social media postings and drawing and talking to fifty + artists. Phew!
And then finally, finally, I started working on the first bee, the Violet Carpenter Bee.

 And then slowly, juggling a business and a job and markets and teaching, bee numbers began to grow.
Sometimes it felt like I would never get them all made but it happened, they started to evolve out of the wool and the containers.


And I can’t tell you how chuffed I was to see them all collected together – it felt like a real achievement.

But in the background, working away in their chosen media with total dedication, fifty artists were creating their own personal responses to ‘their’ bees, becoming experts and advocates for fifty special little insects.

The first proof was emailed to me by Sam Cannon. I can’t begin to express what that felt like, finally seeing evidence that the other artists had ‘got’ the concept of the FIFTY BEES project.

Huge thanks go to Sam and every single one of the artists.

Then before we knew it, it was time to set up the exhibition, my FIRST and we had a blank canvas of a gallery space. So, so exciting – I have no idea how I got to do this in my life – I’m a lucky, lucky woman. But also, I really had no idea how to hang an exhibition – the expert help, guidance and humour from the three ‘Beekeepers’ made it possible.

After the set up, to then host a private view with so many beautiful people turning up to see the amazing work by such talented artists, added to the joy.

Further information

Here’s a link to the Ecologist’s lovely article about the exhibition: http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/Blogs/2989106/uk_artists_showcase_the_plight_of_the_disappearing_british_bee.html

A copy of films of the artists talk given at the gallery by Lydia and four of the artists:

 

The Bilberry Bumblebee 

This is the Bilberry Bumblebee, paired with its companion piece by Helen Hickman of Nellie and Eve. 


This is what Helen says about her work.

“My creation is inspired by the landscape that Bombus Monticola (Bilberry Bumble Bee) and I live in.

Surrounded by species rich heath and peat bogs in the Welsh hills, Bilberry feeds on plants such as gorse, blackberry and of course, bilberries, which line banks.

As a spinner, weaver and dyer my material of choice is local wool, a much undervalued, sustainable fibre.

By carefully foraging for plants that produce rich, natural dyes for my hand spun yarns, crochet hexagons become ‘honeycomb’ inside a used ‘brood’ frame representing how it is possible to mindfully interact and interconnect with our natural environment.” 

Bee gifts

On Friday night, at the private view, I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Louisa Crispin, an artist of extraordinary talents and a bee enthusiast. 

She has a piece hanging in the exhibition – this is not it, though. 

This is a tiny, beautiful drawing that she gave to me on the night and is one of the preparatory drawings about the Short-haired Bumblebee, her bee.

I was absolutely blown away – so chuffed, so honoured. Thank you so much, Louisa – can’t wait to put this on my wall – I know precisely where it’s going.The gallery is open today so if you’d like to see the piece Louisa did for the FIFTY BEES exhibition, call in between 10-5. 

Polly Hughes is on duty too so she’ll be there to talk about her work and many of the other wonderful pieces on display.

Cat’s piece – the nomad bee

Second bee companion for sharing, this is by Cat Frampton and has to be seen to believed – the cirl buntings are so, so small but perfectly realised, and the Braille, well, it’s a challenge – can you rise to the challenge? 


It is companioned with Nomada sexfasciata.

This is what Cat says about her piece: 

‘The birds and the bees

My bee is a rare bee. A rare bee with a solitary, thieving life. It depends on another bee to steal from, that bee is also rare. These bees share a crook of land with a bird, a rare bird.

In 1989 the Cirl Bunting lived (in Britain) only at Prawle Point, Devon, 118 pairs, clinging on.

Then conservationists and local farmers stepped in and saved the birds (over 1000 nests now, all along the coast). Did saving the birds save the bees?

Farmers, rare birds and bees combine, for the good of them all.

Can you tell what the Braille says?’ 

Polly’s honey bee piece

As promised, I’m going to start sharing the work of the other artists in the FIFTY BEES exhibition. And I thought I should start with Polly Hughes as she has been working on the honey bee, the most well know of the bees. 


What I absolutely adore about this piece is Polly’s use of patchwork, a very traditional, often overlooked women’s craft, to make us look with fresh eyes on the dance of bee.


She writes: ‘This bee is not only a honey producer but also one of the most important insect pollinators of both crop plants and wild flowers. Today, as never before, the honey-bee faces the danger of careless spraying of insecticides and weedkillers on plants in bloom, as well as disease and adverse weather conditions. 

Bees communicate the finding of food by dancing on the vertical comb. The Waggle Dance is used when the food is more than 100 metres away from the hive. The dancing bee runs in one direction, waggling her body very quickly from side to side. She then turns round and runs in a semi-circle back to the starting point, repeating the performance again and again. The angle of the waggle tells both the sun-compass direction to fly, and how far. 

The silhouette footprints are a recreation of dance step guides. The beaded Waggle Dance is embroidered onto hexagonal patchwork cells.’

And this is my companion piece.

Bees up

I’ve been buzzing around at high speed, making work, organising and curating for months. 

Last nights private view #beesup was A M A Z I N G – around 250 people came. I am absolutely over the moon, blown away and flabbergasted.

Thanks to all at ACEarts and the team of beekeepers @mDonna Vale, Joy Merron and Polly Hughes for all of your hard work and to all of the artists and visitors. 

Today, I find myself exhausted so I’m going to have a little lie down and start sharing the works with you tomorrow. Xxx

Yesterday was good…

….there was a little bit of this:

And a little bit of that:


And also some deciding whether the hanging system makes a nice art piece. 


And a bit of curating,


And a bit of hanging work.


But there’s still loads to do….​​