- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Bees engage us. They fascinate, charm and inspire us.
Last Sunday morning, as the temperature climbed from 40 to 50 degrees, the honey bees joined us in our garden. They buzzed in and out of the autumn blossoms, gathering pollen and nectar. I stood motionless, capturing their whir of wings with a macro lens, searching for a way to tell their story.
Like many other artists involved with photography, I see the world through a viewfinder. Still other artists draw, etch, paint and sculpt them or use other mediums such as mezzotint engravings, wax pastels and woodcuts.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty (today he's keynoting the California State Beekeepers’ Association conference in San Diego), called our attention to a newly launched Web site known as “The World’s First Art Gallery Devoted to Bees.”
It’s “Bees in Art,” the work of curators/artists Andrew Tyzack and Debbie Grice of East Yorkshire, UK. More specifically, it’s art inspired by bees.
The husband-wife team, graduates of the Royal College of Art, exhibit artwork by leading artists who, like themselves, are fascinated and inspired by beekeeping, bees and Hymenoptera.
“Beekeeping and bees are an immensely important part of our ecosystem,” says Andrew, a third-generation beekeeper and founder of Bees in Art.
The curators not only celebrate bees, but draw attention to the plight of the pollinators. They exhibit and sell important artworks by contemporary artists, such as Robert Gillmor and David Koster as well as works by past masters, including Graham Sutherland (1903-1980).
Andrew Tyzack, who keeps several bee hives, remembers working with bees in his childhood. He recalls the time he and his grandfather captured a wild colony of bees established in the wall of a wooden hut. "In the smoky gloom, Granddad gently took away the inner wall and there were the bees populating beeswax combs," he recalled. "Because the hut was gloomy and Granddad was gentle, the bees just carried on with their lives. We weren't wearing any protective clothing at all, but I felt safe. Their doorway was where a knot had fallen out of a plank, but once we had captured the queen, the colony was ours."
Andrew traces his early inspiration of bees “from a boyhood curiosity for all things natural" to the artists, writers, poets and dancers he's met along life's way. Among them: sculptor Andy Goldsworthy and poet Liz Lochhead.
Wife Debbie, co-founder of Bees in Art, is an award-winning artist and "the beekeeper’s wife,” jarring his honey with creative labels. Winner of the Folio Society Illustration Award 1998, she produces mezzotint engravings of apiaries.
Honey bees (queen bees, drones, worker bees), bumble bees and other bees populate the Web site in various art forms.
It’s nice to see a Web site solely devoted to bee art, and it’s particularly gratifying--and significant--that the founder of Bees in Art is himself a beekeeper and artist.
And inspired by bees and beekeeping.