Sunday afternoon sun, love and a bit of a weep of joy

I’m sat in the garden with my old man, drinking cava on a much needed ‘day off’ but enjoying the time and space needed to really take in what our fifty artists have written about their work for this year’s exhibition.

It’s joyous, humbling, funny, inspiring, exhilarating, and just all round wonderful.

Until we reach this point, with works finished and explanations written, it’s difficult to know what sort of exhibition we are offering you.

But, surprise surprise, it’s going to be an experience – I feel so moved (no, it’s not the Cava talking).

I keep stopping to share bits with Shaun but as I read them out loud, I get a bit wobbly and tearful. It’s so moving.

Thank you to all of the incredible artists who have chosen to take part, invested a huge amount of time, effort and creativity and a little bit of their souls in order to bring you an amazing experience.

Show some love, people, you must come!

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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.

Why?

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.

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

‘If I’m Not Back I’m There’

Poor photographers, wonderful exhibition.I’m not usually short for words but I am for this one.

’If I’m Not Back I’m There’ by Edwina Bridgman at ACEarts just had me spellbound, transfixed, enlightened and happy. 

So much to see on one central display, get down and look at it as a child would see it.

Papier-mâché, found materials, card, clay. 

2 and 3-dimensional work exploring found objects and unexpected materials to create a body of work around people and their animals.

I so admire Edwina’s deft handling of her materials – quite jealous of her confidence.

Go, see, enjoy.

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. 

Watch out – long post from a very full day, fab! 

Yesterday was a day in three amazing parts.

The first part involved doing needlefelt landscape experiments with residents at Wessex House Care home – just love these pieces.

Great British tones in great British Wool.

I’d like to include this as Seam Collective #SeptTextileLove prompt for today which is ‘happy accidents’ because I’m a very keen exponent of the idea of experimentation, play, accidental discovery and making mistakes – this is how we learn.

What’s the expression….”A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new” —- so true.

So let’s play, I say!!!

Then I met up with Donna Vale and we trundled off to Frome’s Black Swan Art to see the exhibitions there but first lunch and surprise meet up with David Smith – much talking and laughing.

Then onto the ‘Hinterland’ exhibition by Gladys Paulus.

It’s pretty hard to get across what an amazing exhibition this is. On a purely craft level, Gladys’ work is second to none – the pieces are truly beautifully made; as a felter, I am always amazed.

But this exhibition is so much more. It is so, so moving – the pieces have a real presence and I know I will HAVE to go back for another look, or two. The pictures don’t do it justice but I’ll share a few more.
Such presence,

So moving,

And resonance.

If you have a chance – get there.

And the final part of my day was at @tmac_taunton with an Arts and Health Speed Networking event!!! Whooohooo!

There I met a whole host of people and ‘networked’, oh yes I did. We talked and learnt about a whole range of arts and health providers and the links that are being made between them.

I also talked FIFTY BEES to a few people too!

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: