The Bee Libraries are collections of bee-related books converted into nests for bees. In 2012 bee libraries were installed at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Biennale of Sydney; in summer 2013 libraries are being installed at the National Fruit Collection (Brogdale), Yorkshire Dales National Park (Malham), University of Stirling, and a small branch library at Shandy Hall. Constructed from a book, bamboo, wire-netting and water-proofing, each nest offers shelter for solitary bees, whose numbers are in steep decline. The Bee Poems are a collection of texts composed from a close reading of the books.
Global Oracle juxtaposes contemporary communicat- ion networks and ancient myth. The Omphalos stone in the oracle at Delphi was patterned with a crosswork of bees, which the ancient Greeks associated with the soul. The contemporary oracular network is the NAVSTAR GPS satellite system. Global Oracle models 24 satellite nests for solitary bees, constructed from straw, willow, steel, and wood. The artwork was commissioned by University of Warwick and will be installed late Summer 2012.
Swarm (ASX) is an apicultural model of the global financial system. Fluctuations in the stock market reverberate in the ‘buzz’ of honey-bees broadcast from 10 hives. Each hive bears the acronym of a major world stock exchange – New York, Toronto, Sao Paulo, London, Frankfurt, Mumbai, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Sydney. Installed at the 18th Biennale of Sydney, Swarm (ASX) is a snapshot of speculative finance translated into the natural ecosystem of bees: dynamic, in flux, undergoing crisis.
Alec Finlay has contributed to the annual Spring hanami blossom-festival at the National Fruit Coll- ection, Brogdale. Gathering together a seasonal anthology adapting Basho’s famous haiku on the bee, the poems were presented as tanzaku – poem-labels – hung on trees. A workshop was held in the orchard, led by Ken Cockburn, in collaboration with Luke Allan. Alec has also created a new permanent artwork for Brogdale, colour specifying beehives to record the succession of blossoming fruit trees: pear, plum, cherry, quince, and apple. A post documenting these projects will be published early summer 2013.
audio by Chris Watson, 2011