Fifty Bees: The Interconnectedness of All Things

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 61 (Andrena Rosae). Paper, gold leaf, flame. 14 x 14 x 1 inches (framed). ©2017.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 61 (Andrena Rosae). Paper, gold leaf, flame. 14 x 14 x 1 inches (framed). ©2017.

Fifty Bees: The Interconnectedness of All Things is a collaborative group exhibition at ACEarts lead by Queen Bee Lydia Needle. Lydia is well known for her beloved and beautiful felted textile art that celebrates the wildlife and critters she is surrounded by in daily life.

I met Lydia when we were both traders at the Bath Artisan Market and I was immediately enchanted by her felted creations. So when she invited me to contribute a piece for Fifty Bees, I jumped at the chance.

The concept is brilliant, mirroring the interconnectedness and dependency everyone has on everything. Fifty artists are creating fifty individual pieces, each one inspired by his or her assigned bee.

Lydia Needle, Andrena rosae. Wool, thread, tin. 2017.

Lydia Needle, Andrena rosae. Wool, thread, tin. 2017.

My bee, Andrena rosae (Perkins Mining Bee), lays her eggs in a series of deep holes that she digs into the ground, scattering dirt around her nest entrance as she burrows. The patterns she leaves on the ground’s surface inspired this piece. My medium is paper, a seemingly ephemeral material that is quite sturdy when handled. Like this little bee, who must steadfastly dig to protect her only handful of eggs during her short lifetime.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 61 (Andrena Rosae). Paper, gold leaf, flame. 14 x 14 x 1 inches (framed). ©2017.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Playing With Fire No. 61 (Andrena Rosae). Paper, gold leaf, flame. 14 x 14 x 1 inches (framed). ©2017.

While researching and working on this piece, my awareness of these beautiful insects has blossomed. Living here, we can't help but be impacted by wildlife, including a swarm of honey bees that set up house in the outside wall of our home. Daily walks take me through fields and by hedgerows buzzing with activity. This project has inspired me to slow down and appreciate the activity, laugh when a solo bumble buzzes my head, and marvel at the interconnectedness of all things.

In addition to the exhibition, there's also a book in the works. You can learn more and support the publishing project here.

Fifty Bees: The Interconnectedness of All Things | 1 July – 22 July, Private View 30 June | ACEarts Gallery | Market Place, Somerton, Somerset TA11 7NB, UK

UPDATE added July 17, 2017:

We've had some nice press about the exhibition, including an enthusiastic review by Somerset Cool and an article in The Ecologist.