About Rebecca Chesney: Bee Project

Rebecca Chesney was a visiting artist at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, working from her boathouse studio in the nature reserve. Working with the FERA Regional Bee Inspector, Chesney has introduced two new honeybee colonies to the site - these are thriving and provided an excellent source of research and inspiration for the artist.

Chesney is a Preston based artist who has exhibited her work in Salford, County Durham, Rome, Boston Massachusetts and at the Liverpool Biennial. Her work looks at changing environments and human activity, and previous residencies have resulted in exhibitions of drawings, photographs, installations and films. 

The work she made – comprising sound recordings, photography, drawings and plant pressings – contributed towards an exhibition at YSP in April 2011. Her residency drew attention to the plight of bees which are under great threat: a fifth of all honeybees in the UK were lost in 2008/9 and their disappearance would be catastrophic. 

Bees have had a lot of press in the last couple of years: the decline in numbers and the effect that could have on our environment. During my research into bees over the last year I read Charles Darwin’s 'On the Origin of Species’ In the chapter on instinct Darwin uses bees to demonstrate his theories and this definitely influenced my decision to propose a project about bees. My interest also extends to the history of the bee and the symbolism, stories and folklore surrounding bees and honey.

I've been thinking about bees for a long time - other art projects I've worked on in the past have generally been about nature in urban and rural landscapes; how we perceive nature; how environments are changing and the effects of human activity on our surroundings.

- Rebecca Chesney

The project was run in partnership with The Co-operative Membership Team. The Co-operative launched its own major bee initiative in January 2009. Called Plan Bee, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the decline in honeybees, fund research and encourage gardeners to plant bee-friendly wildflowers.

As an organisation with a strong environmental ethos, the plight of the UK's bee population is very close to our hearts. We believe that this partnership will have a very positive impact on the bee population in the area.

- North Co-operative and Membership Officer Linda Gomila