Some of you know I work in fibre as well as paint. This week I opened the current issue of “Stitch” where the editor wrote about an art project called Fifty Bees by Lydia Needle.
Lydia creates 50 individual works, each featuring a bee and puts them in vintage containers. Then she invites 50 other artists, makers or musicians to make a companion piece in response to one of the bees to highlight the plight of British bees. I am enchanted by this whole idea.
Before Covid struck I arranged an art show with other local painters that focused on bees. Covid kept that from show from happening but I continue to create small paintings of bees. Perhaps it’s time to revive the idea of a collective Bee Show?
On her Instagram page, Lydia posts each bee and the responses from the guest artists, which are always imaginative and thoughtful. One artist embroidered the sound wave of her saying the German name of her bee. Another created a piece showing the empty nest of an extinct bee. Check out the Fifty Bees Instagram account here. You can also read more about The Fifty Bees show here.
Lydia also posted an excerpt of her interview on the podcast “Prompted by Nature” where she talked about being an Eco artist and it gave me pause. It feels like a call to be more intentional about what I paint.
Nature has always inspired me. I love walking the dog on early spring mornings and hearing the birds sing as they claim territory. There’s the cardinal as I reach the bend. Chickadees in the alder bushes sound deep in conversation. Curious crows sound a bit cheeky. About once a week I spot eagles riding the wind along the coastline.
I’m distressed by the number of songbirds we’ve lost, the birds missing from our landscapes and soundscapes. When I was a child bobolinks called from the field behind our home. I haven’t heard a Bobolink in years. Yesterday we saw a quail by the side of the road – first one in a very long time. And I know that there are millions of birds who never make it through their long migrations because of city lights and other manmade hazards. It breaks my heart.
So more birds in my work as well as my bees and of course, my flowers. Being more intentional with my art means walking my talk.
I’m giving this idea of Eco Artist a lot of thought, trying it on for size. It lines up with what I want to say with my art. “This brings me joy and deserves our attention. I’d like to share it with you.”