The merit of mistakes

Anyone who’s even been to one of my classes knows that, sometimes, often, I bang on about how mistakes are the only way we learn.

Well, I’ve just proved my own point and I’ll explain why.

Last week, at one of my favourite charity shops, I found some really beautiful vintage crewel wool. (I don’t know what that is, please explain someone?)

I thought it would be perfect for the bees and for the landscape pictures I’m teaching at The Brewhouse Theatre soon.

Today, working on Bee53, I thought I’d use some for the wings. Now, my logical brain knew it wouldn’t work, not THROUGH firmly felted wool – too tough, too dense.

Surprise, surprise, the yarn snapped- d’oh and duuuuh!!!

But look at the result…I love the way the wings are floating in the air.

Will I keep them like this?

Are they finished?

Can I recreate it?

Who knows, but it’ll be fun finding out.

So, children, adults, makers, artists etc – let’s make mistakes. Do share!


A year ago, how time flies

It was a year ago yesterday that myself, Polly, Joy and Donna had a meeting at ACEarts to discuss the FIFTY BEES exhibition. We sat on the sofas, measured walls, talked and talked and decided that these three wonderful women would be called the beekeepers.


Well, with fifty artists to coordinate, it made sense to share out some of the work. Now, I look back at this picture with amazement.

We had no idea how it was going to work, whether the story of the bees would translate into an exhibition, whether anyone would be interested.

But, wow! It was wonderful. The fifty artists made such a wide variety of art, amazing responses to these incredible creatures.

But it wouldn’t have worked without the enthusiasm and keenness of them all as well as Nina and the team at the gallery.

Now, we’re gearing up for the next leg of the journey at Richard Jefferies Museum – can’t wait. Thanks everyone.




#vintagecontainer #bees #fiftybees #artists #somersetartist #opencall #interconnectedness

OPENING TODAY – Bees: the interconnectedness of all things at Bruton School for Girls 

The girls worked so beautifully hard and enthusiastically to produce a fabulous collaborative installation.

Three days, 80 plus students and a handful of staff produced a whole host of British bees which are now hanging in the gallery at the Bruton School for Girls.

‘Taught by Lydia Needle, Bruton School for Girls students will sculpt tiny, lifesize British bees in wool, representing just a few of the 260 varieties left in theUK. 

The bees become artworks as part of a whole school installation in the school’s gallery. To follow up this work, the students will research the habitats and ecosystems, the flora and fauna that rely on bees, to create companion artworks. Our objective is to raise awareness of the diversity of bees in Britain and to spread the story – using art as a medium – as far as possible.’ SAW guide 2017. 

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:

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


After the day job, popping into the gallery.

Popped into ACEarts today after the day job – sat on the very comfy chairs and nearly fell asleep. Lovely to see so many people slowly moving round to gallery, quietly taking in the work. Sometimes there’s a lot of chatter and other times people are taking in the work in a more solitary way.

Great also the the Wool Carder Bee has a new home to go to at the end of the month – I’d love to share with you who has decide to home this one because i think it will make you smile but need to check with them first. .

Exhibition from 1st to 22nd July, open Tuesday to Saturday – 10-5pm

01458 273008

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.” 

Bees will be flying off to new homes…..

By the end of day 2 of the FIFTY BEES exhibition, all of these creatures below had found new homes which they will be flying off to at the end of the exhibition.

Now, obviously, not everyone who wants to give a bee a home can get to the gallery.

Therefore, over the next few days I will start listing an occasional bee on my website.


And it’s a big BUTYou’ll need to purchase via the gallery.

tel:01458 20273008