Friday 15 October 2010

Artists and Apis Mellifera (otherwise known as the Honey Bee)

My sister inlaw Katriona Beales has just written this article in her latest blog- it was part of a talk about Arts in the light of the funding cuts and I really like the point she's making - comparing artists to the Honey bee...
here's an extract from the blog and her own website link also...

Artists and Apis Mellifera
Text from a brief talk I did last night [7th Oct 2010] at the AIR Activist launch.

"I have only 2 words I really want to say tonight, neither are English - Apis Mellifera...
I have heard much talk about a cultural ecology – conjuring up nice images of inter-dependent organic systems where each part, whether large or small, is recognised as important to the whole. I'm not sure the phrase 'cultural ecology' really reflects the true dynamics of the cultural landscape around us - but let's work with it.
The pertinent question from me, is what is the role of the artist within the cultural ecology?
I believe it is much like the role of Apis Mellifera, better known as the Common Honey bee. As artists move across and in-between cultures, socio-political topographies, and virtual and real environments – much cross-pollination happens. New ideas are born, and society benefits from the fruit of those.
Of course – Apis Mellifera also benefits from the process, and in it generates it's own sustenance.
However, the honey produced has also been enjoyed by the human race for thousands of years, forming a staple part of the human diet since at least the Egyptian times. In cross-pollination not only are ideas generated, but also art work.
Honey sweetens our lives, just as art adds richness.
But who is this work for, is it honey solely produced just for the bee or the bee-keeper?
Are artists just producers of a cultural commodity – with little say in it’s dissemination or in it’s consumption?
Since 2006 there has been a drastic rise in the number of total disappearances of common honey bee colonies. This has been termed colony collapse disorder, and has been met with near panic from the agricultural sector who rely on bees to pollinate the majority of the worlds agricultural crops.
Without stretching the analogy too far – on the brink of 25% or possibly 40% cuts to the arts – there are strong challenges to say the least, to making a living as a practising artist. And while I have dipped a toe in some of the arts funding debate, I have found the majority of the perspectives shared to be about protecting arts and cultural institutions, without much discussion about the impact cuts on artists living and working in the UK today.
AIR Activists is about providing a platform for artist voices. This is timely and necessary. Artists need to not only shape the flavour of the work they are creating, but also influence the various bee keepers. At the end of the day, the bee keepers are actually reliant on the bee for their livelihood.
AIR Activists are about reminding the bee keepers of that fact.
Apis Mellifera."
 Katriona Beales