Declining Honey Bee Problem, as Seen by Artists
Images by B. Alter: Cleo Mussi
The declining honey bee population has been a growing concern in the farming, gardening and food communities. The use of pesticides and loss of natural, un-farmed areas have been suggested as causes.
A new exhibition in London, The Honeybee and the Hive, looks at the problem from the artists' point of view. The show features a group of 28 craftsmen and women working in different materials, but all inspired by the wonder of the bee and disturbed by its loss.
Albert Einstein once predicted that, "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live." Taking this terrifying prediction to heart, the curated show uses this theme as a starting point for its inspiration.
Many different media are used: silver for bee cuff links, glass for etched glass bowls, wood for stacking furniture and textiles for a wall mural.
The bee table, seen above, is made of glass on the bottom, with a honey comb-like top for the surface. The worker bees on the bottom, caught between sheets of glass, make a shelf underneath. The artist calls it "a celebration of the structural organization of the beehive and the bee."
The jewelery in the show was inventive and delightful. While not every would want to wear a necklace made out of bees strung together, this one, made of found objects such as buttons and pieces from broken necklaces, is a piece of nostalgia for an older time.
Silver cuff links depicting bee houses and a hive are a special treat.
Working in ceramic, Joanna Veevers has made individual ceramic pieces, each with a different depiction. She was inspired by her visits to natural history museums, seeing "the collections of bees, meticulously pinned to labels for identification and classification. These struck a chord with me about finding and collecting, order, narrative and attention to detail."
Natasha Kerr has really gone to town with her tapestry/mural. She spent a great deal of time with a beekeeper, in the countryside, visiting hives and his workshop and becoming immersed in the lore. This particular beekeeper has placed hives in many city areas, including on the rooftop of the Tate Museum and Fortnum & Mason food store in central London.