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Bees create some buzz by taking over art gallery

June 1, 2011

Aganetha Dyck: Guest Workers at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery will be one of the most exciting exhibitions in the city this year. Not only does it feature a selection of work by a major Canadian artist never shown in P.E.I., but a live beehive will be installed in the gallery, connected to the outside world by a Plexiglas tube.

Aganetha Dyck is a Governor General's Award winning artist from Winnipeg. She has spent much of the last 30 years involved in what she calls "inter-species communication" with honeybees. She allows bees to alter her own work (drawing and sculpture, for example), as well as everyday objects ranging from footwear to sports helmets, by chewing it to bits or covering it with honeycomb and beeswax.

This summer the gallery's "guest workers" will live in a display containing a lobster trap.

"The results are unpredictable," says curator Pan Wendt. "Sometimes the bees will make something really wonderful, but we can't control what they do. Visitors will really enjoy watching the progress of the bees' work in any case, and if we end up with a beautiful object, so much the better."

Having live bees in the gallery creates complications, so the gallery is working with beekeeper Geoffrey Paynter to make the experience as comfortable as possible for the bees. At the same time they are providing the public with the opportunity to learn about these incredibly important insects, so essential to the cycles of growth in nature.

The experience will also be comfortable for visitors. The hive is sealed from the gallery, and unlike wasps, bees are not aggressive animals. Bees are remarkably adaptable, and in the past where Dyck has installed live bees, for example the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 1995, the bees quickly figure out how to navigate between their home and the outdoors via the Plexiglas tube.

The exhibit features examples from past "collaborations" with bees, including a set of porcelain figurines, a football helmet, and stiletto heels, all covered and filled with beeswax and honeycomb.

Aganetha Dyck: Guest Workers is on display June 11 to October 16. Honibe is the sponsor of the exhibit.

Aganetha Dyck, Closest to Her, Courtesy of Michael Gibson Gallery, London, Ont.
Beework on Figurine, 2007
15 x 10 x 6 in.
Courtesy of Michael Gibson Gallery, London, Ont.


Media contact: Dan Wall, publicist, Confederation Centre of the Arts, phone (902) 628-6135
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