Bees are wonderful creatures and play an integral role not only in the web of life, but also in our cultural lives, with honey being enjoyed and utilised over the centuries. Their disappearance would be an enormous loss and mean a drastic change to the environment – therefore we were excited to hear about the upcoming exhibition, Bee Line, by Jenny Cullinan, dedicated wholly to bees and their conservation. We encourage all Earth Keepers in Cape Town to visit this exhibition.
Jenny Cullinan is an artist, professional sculptor and bee conservationist. She has exhibited widely locally and abroad, and her sculptures are represented in both public and private collections. Notable recognitions include being the winner of the Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, Durban Botanic Gardens, 1998; and in 2012 she was the recipient of an ART and ENVIRONMENT honorary award granted through the office of the KZN premier, in recognition of her ongoing commitment to art, conservation and community development.
In Jenny’s words, “my work speaks about my close relationship to the natural environment and the many species that share our fragile planet. I work exclusively with botanic materials since cycles inform my creative process: Nature’s cycles and life cycles. My sculptures are a part of and mirror these cycles. I’m also intrigued by the tension that exists in the relationship between science and nature, and science and art, and I attempt to reflect this tension in my work.”
Jenny’s upcoming exhibition, BEE LINE, is a body of work created over four years that immerses you in her passion and reverence for bees. “My life experience is in the world of bees, and I am bringing that into what I make as part of releasing the bee from the wood or off the paper. Art is another way of communicating… it’s like a passion pouring out in my favourite language. Hopefully my art will inspire people to have a different relationship with the bees, and see them in a different manner. My dream would be for people to start realising that there is this incredible, beautiful world around us, and if we tap into that, we’re filled with it.”
As part of the month long exhibition, Jenny will give a series of talks at 18h00 on May 10, 17, 24 and 31. These talks titled WILD LIVING; STORIES FROM THE WILD and SEXING THE WILD include photographic stories, while WILD SOUND focuses on the sounds that bees make. Jenny devotes this exhibition and series of talks to raising awareness and support for the ongoing research and conservation work that she and Karin Sternberg of UJUBEE conduct.
Their research looks at the ecology of the Cape Honeybee and other native bees in pristine fynbos. Bees are the most specialised and successful group of pollinators, vital for biodiversity and food security. Yet globally bees are in crisis as a result of human interaction with bees. It is important to establish the behaviour of bees in the wild, and the effect they have on their environment. If we can learn from bees in the wild and what they need to be healthy, we can better understand what bees need to flourish when we keep bees. The knowledge we gain is used to create a greater awareness of the importance of bees in the wild, to protect them in wild spaces so as to ensure a strong gene pool, and to improve our working relationship with bees to ensure the longevity of this keystone species.
For more information on UJUBEE, please visit www.ujubee.com