In Poland, there is a story about bees. The bees work all summer harvesting pollen. There is one lone bee who has the audacity to collect pollen not physical sustenance, but to create paintings of flowers inside the walls of the hive. She uses the flowers to paint flowers. Punished and accused of being lazy, it is said that she is not contributing adequately to the community through her artistic endeavours. She is subsequently banished. Winter arrives and all the bees are driven indoors. Suddenly they see the lone bee’s flowers in a different way; in the long winter months, the wall paintings offer a restorative effect which sustains the colony through until the springtime.
Gardens provide places not only to gaze upon the perfection that we find
in flowers, but they also allow us a space to be free from earthly weights and toils. As fantasy novelist Peter S. Beagle says of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, gardens let us find “erotic derangement that turns us all into voyeurs, a place filled with the intoxicating air of perfect liberty”.
And yet, life is not all a garden. As Thomas Campion declares in his poem And Would You See My Mistress’ Face?, “all is work and nowhere space”. This is a sentiment to which we, as urban artists, can all relate. Too much work, too little time, not enough space. We cram ourselves, literally and metaphysically, into tiny pockets of space, and time, wherein we attempt to grow our garden. Harnessing the history of mavericks like William Robinson or our little bee friend we surge forward.
This exhibition attempts to capture that sense through contemporary art, and to celebrate the rogue bees within us who strive to create purpose that others may not recognise in its own time.