to be free of you,
move with the swarm,
ascend in the shape
of a blossoming tree—
your head on a pillow
emptied of scent and colour,
winter’s cold indifference
(Lorna Crozier, 1992)
Working with stamps and linocuts is very addictive – repetition, the basis of the process, allows for large areas to be produced within a relatively (that’s relatively) short space of time (compared to hand drawing, of course). I’m up to 9,000 bees to date and counting!
At the same time, I can cut new stamps as the muse strikes me, thus maintaining some of the individuality inherent in hand drawing. The repetition involved in creating the patterns contributes to the unity of the total piece, but further, each act of stamping or printing produces a unique imprint – the pressure applied to the paper, the amount of ink on the stamp and even accidental movements and slips of the hand create a variation in each print. From clear impressions to strange blobs, I never quite know what I’m going to get!
The project of mapping a bee colony of 40,000 or so bees is progressing, and at this point, I’m at about 6,000 bees! So far, the piece is 9′ x 12′. The final completed piece will be about 8 times this size. I have a ways to go!
I am including the predators and pests that bees encounter in nature – from wax moths that destroy combs, to bee diseases like Varroa mites, to mice, wasps, skunks, birds, ants, bears, and of course, humans. We are, arguably, the bees’ worst enemies, even though we consider ourselves indispensible to the “domesticed” honey bee. We destroy the delicately balanced biodiversity of our planet. And, instead create food production practices based on megalithic monocultures that rely heavily on artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides. Urbanization, concrete and manicured lawns take the place of fields and meadows. All of our pollinators are in trouble, not just the honey bees.
I saw two very interesting documentaries recently – “Queen of the Sun”, and “Vanishing of the Bees.” Both films investigate the plight of the honey bee from a slightly different perspective. Both are informative and engaging to watch!