Honeycombed 2009


Statement from the Artist


At the heart of my current work is Apis mellifica, the honeybee and its culture.

Humans and bees have a mythical relationship dating since prehistoric times as depicted in drawings on the walls of Arana Cave in Spain of humans gathering honey with bees flying about. My first encounter with a wild hive, an organic labial shape, took my breath away. It left me in one of those rare moments of grace when there are no words. It inspired me to create two human shaped, traditional skep derived, sculptures that I visualize within a larger installation of many similar shaped sculptures varying in size and generalized shape. I place yellow footprints on the floor in front of the woven sculptures echoing bee dance designs, reminiscent of old dance lessons creating another link between humans and bees; of dance and communication. Footprints serve as a metaphor of network and a sense of place, direction and communal activity. The materials and techniques I use for my sculptures are taken from the traditional constructive methods of old fashioned skeps; the domed woven structures bees were kept in before the invention of the commercial boxes, or “supers” in use today. Combining the craft of older and gentler bee keeping apparatus with human form recalls once more the long intertwining history of human and bee culture. The sculptures also represent the outer shell, the form, the “hive” in which souls reside as inspired by the spiritual element of honey bees as described in innumerable documents and seen in countless artifacts from through-out the ages.

My large bee dance drawings depict the profound way bees communicate the location of food through movement or “dance”. Keen and extensive observation has lead to this understanding, primarily thru Dr. Karl Von Frisch’s “most painstaking, ingenious, unflagging work.” When drawing the large bee dance shapes I use the span of both arms, repeating the shape over and over; repetition creates a rhythm, an obsessive dance, and the drawing takes on this energy. I invite viewers to participate, adding to the drawing so their arm spans, touch and energies are a part of the drawings, creating a connection among us. Then, our many lines will become one vibration, a whole, and a celebration of life.

Susan Bradley with Skep Family