In March 2017 York St John hosted a symposium bringing together creative practitioners who all work, in various ways, with bees. We welcomed Wolfgang Buttress, who designed The Hive exhibit, an interactive installation that sits in a wildflower meadow in Kew Gardens and is linked to the activities of a real beehive. It responds to the bees with LEDs and music composed from the sounds of the bees themselves. Buttress gave an inspiring talk about the project which is sculptural, architectural, musical and has the feeling of elegy about it. What will remain when there are no more bees to give The Hive its ghostly input? You can learn more about The Hive here: http://www.wolfgangbuttress.com/expo-2015/
We also welcomed Amy Shelton, whose incredible artwork has been inspired by bees for a decade. Amy’s work Florilegium is exhibited at the Wellcome Trust and presents light boxes of pressed flowers that map a bee’s pollinating plants for the seasons. Amy collaborated with award-winning poet John Burnside on the book Melissographia, inspired by The Life of the Bee by Maurice Maeterlinck. Burnside joined Amy and read from his beautiful work. You can learn more about these projects and hear John Burnside reading his poems here: http://www.amyshelton.co.uk/melissographia/
Buttress, Shelton and Burnside were joined by Steven Falk, entomologist and illustrator who spoke about his incredibly intricate bee illustrations and his passion for photography. Steven has illustrated a number of important guides to British insects and we were inspired to see his beautiful work. He took the audience on a bee and flower-spotting mission and gave some photography tips.
Special thanks to Andrew Cutts at Buglife who presented his important work on the Urban Buzz project – a national endeavor to increase habitats for pollinators in urban spaces. Andrew talked about the declining bee population and a number of community projects to plant wildflowers and encourage the bees. Andrew also helped with our own Wildflower Workshop planting day, and plants were provided by Urban Buzz.