BEE IN THE CITY
Public Art Commission
In summer 2018 I was one of the commissioned artists for Bee in the City: a public art trail organised by Wild In Art running from 23rd July and 23rd September.
It comprises of over 100 bees created by local and national artists including myself, plus 125 smaller bees created by schools in the area. All of the bees have been designed to celebrate Manchester - from the music scene to the industrial roots of Cottonopolis. Read more about the trail here.
I designed my bee to reflect the industrial roots of Manchester a.k.a. ‘Cottonopolis’ and explore similarities between worker bees and Manchester citizens – both being hard-working, productive and community-orientated. Parts of Manchester’s historic steam engines and cotton spinning machines are featured – inspired by the Museum of Science and Industry’s Textiles Gallery and Power Hall - along with steampunk art.
My bee was sold at auction on 17th October 2018 for £15'500, which went towards the Lord Mayor of Manchester's We Love MCR Charity. In total, the bees raised over one million pounds for the charity!
THE MAKING OF THE BEE
Painting the bee was a bigger challenge than I was expecting - mainly to do with trying to squeeze a paintbrush between its many legs than the size of the 5 foot canvas! It took me 128 hours to complete in total - including coffee breaks, being an essential part of the creative process - working around my day job over a 6 week period. (Thank goodness for two May bank holidays!)
The bee started out as a white fibreglass sculpture, which I sanded, washed and spray painted in bronze and silver for the base layer. I then sponged different tones of metallic acrylic over the top to create a metal texture. The details were a combination of painted acrylic and Posca pens, layered many times to become opaque. Finally, I finished off painting the base in immunisation and acrylic to look like a ball of string.
I found the process of creating the bee really rewarding - particularly meeting the other artists and absorbing their wisdom and great company whilst painting in the warehouse together. I definitely learnt heaps and was glad to build on my skill-set as an artist.
Many thanks to my sponsor Biffa and Wild in Art for this opportunity.
My bee was one of a handful of bees featured on Channel 4 News on 29th August 2018. You can see it at 2 minutes, 16 seconds in here!
I had an interview with the Doncaster Free Press (where I grew up) and was given a double page spread designated to myself and my bee. In it I explained the inspiration behind my design, how I made it and briefly mentioned my work with Big Brown Eyes. It was printed in the lifestyle section of the newspaper online and in print, which your can read here.
The University I studied BA Fine Art at did a feature on my work with Bee in the City on their Alumni website here.
Manchester Evening News featured my bee amongst the others whilst promoting the launch event, which you can see here.
Here is the official page for my bee on the Bee in the City website.