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International art exhibition creates a buzz

Posted on 31/08/2011

An artist is using bumblebees donated by Royal Holloway, University of London to create an installation at a public art exhibition this week, to draw attention to the decline of the fragile species.

Award winning artist Anne Brodie will present Bee Box at Bishop’s Square in Spitalfields, London, as part of a series of simultaneous international exhibitions across eight countries in Europe focusing on the relationship between art, science and society.

Anne explains that she created the Bee Box to remind people of the invisible disappearance of the UK’s bees. She says: “Bees, like us, form communities of workers capable of generating intelligent social interactions. Bee Box offers a poetic reflection on the fragility of these communities.”

The bumblebees used were reared in the laboratories at the College’s Egham campus in order for scientists to study their decline in the UK. The bees that had reached the end of their life with the colony were then donated to Anne for use in the art project along with honeybbees that Anne had sourced from elsewhere.

Catherine Jones, a Biological Sciences PhD student at Royal Holloway, organised to send the bumblebees to Anne after hearing about the artist’s project through a mutual friend. She says: “The art project sounded interesting and it seemed to fit in with our conservation work with the bees. We collect queen bees from the wild and breed colonies in the laboratory, monitoring the bees for parasites. We had a supply of bees and so were able to help Anne with her artwork and will hopefully raise awareness of the plight of the bumblebee in doing so.”

The exhibition is organised by the European Public Art Centre, which brings together organisations across Europe with the aim of exhibiting artworks in urban outdoor public settings. Exhibitions will also be simultaneously held in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Portugal, Spain, Germany and Finland.

Bee Box will be on display at Bishop’s Square, Spitalfields, London, from 1 September until 1 November.


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