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

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#JACIndieFriday

So here it is, #indiefriday, everybody’s having fun!

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d Indie Friday is about supporting small businesses, independent makers and our fabulous, hardworking creatives.

Devised by the wonderful sarah Hamilton and run by the volunteer team at Just a Card, it’s a campaign to promote the idea that buying #justacard from small business can be make or break in these tough times.

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’s also a way to encourage us, as consumers away from the big, faceless corporations who for so long have wielded so much power over advertising and consumerism because consumerism isn’t what Christmas is about, is it?

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ristmas should not be about standing in massive queues and spending our hard earned money on yet more landfill of the future.

So, if you’re out there this black Friday make it instead a rainbow Friday – slow down, drink tea in an independent cafe, visit small shops, divert just a bit of your cash their way – it’ll make them so happy! And happiness has a way of growing – it’ll come back your way, too.

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d remember, it’s #justacard #justapairofearings #justamug #justakit #justadecoration that’ll keep this small business (me) going!

reason 1 to buy blackdogandgingercat needlefelt kits

So, to celebrate the upcoming blackdogandgingercat birthday, here’s the REASON TO BUY blackdogandgingercat Kits countdown….NUMBER 1

1.jpgOur appreciation, love and support of important charities such as SANE, as seen here in our #blackdog kit.

IMG_5378.jpgAnd in turn, the sales of all of the other kits help to support my other work alongside charities such as ACEarts, MIND, and Somerset Wildlife Trust, as seen in the ongoing FIFTY BEES project.

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So, thank you everyone who’s ever bought one of my kits – you are wonderful.

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!

Change is good

#Change – what do we all think about it? 

It’s been a long time since I’ve introduced myself to you all and seeing as we have a few more of you along for the ride, AND I’m going through a period of change, I thought it was about time. 

So, this is me, Lydia Needle, last month at the private view of #fiftybees. This was a really pivotal event in my life, my first exhibition and a point which marked a massive change in my life, I felt like I was officially being ‘launched’ as an artist (like a big ship 🤣). If you have a look at the stickers I’m wearing, you’ll see the hashtag #beeartist and #queenbee, made by @foreverycloud – I loved wearing those!!!!

It was an event where all of a sudden I thought “Yes! People not only ‘get’ the concept of FIFTY BEES but they also appreciate my art”. It was heavenly.

And, in terms of change, it marked the point when I publicly announced that I planned to take the FIFTY BEES concept to other parts of the country which meant I could not conceivably continue with the day job.

So, yesterday was my last day working at MIND – no more financial safety net of part time work – I HAVE to make this work. 

One of the last session we ran was all about CHANGE – how difficult it can be, how challenging, and as we were discussing it, I came to the realisation that I used to hate it, the instability of it all. But without it, we have no new beginning, no new doors to open.

So, what about you? How do you find change, have you been through any lately or are you planning some. Let me know.

And perhaps you might also sharing a picture of you using the hashtag #changeisgood 

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#artist #beeartist #introduction #fiftybees #fibreartist #exhibition 

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: