I’ve recently been able to (finally) visit The Hive by Wolfgang Buttress, a Nottingham based artist. The installation was originally part of the UK Pavillion at the 2015 Milan Expo and is currently installed at Kew Gardens in London, a fitting location for a work that highlights the critical role that bees play in our environment and survival – read more about it on the Kew Gardens website.
The multi award winning installation is, for me, the most successful piece of public art I’ve ever experienced. Everything from its sheer size to the minutiae of the structure adding to its presence, simultaneously vast and enclosing. I enjoyed the allegorical nature of the experience, the route up to the structure reminiscent of the journey a bee takes to enter a hive. Once inside with other people I felt like a bee, moving around the space in response to everyone else, a feeling enhanced by the audio feed from a live hive based at Kew.
It would be easy to simply be entranced by the whole but it is the little touches that raise the installation into something sublime. The incorporation of sound and light taken from a live hive, directly from nature is inspired, providing a constant reminder about our everyday proximity to nature even when living in towns and cities, the urban jungle rings true here.
While in the space I felt hyper stimulated but with a sense of calm, constantly looking at the different interactions created between metal, glass and sky. There was always a new thing to see, new shapes, new layers. At one point however, I decided that I needed time to just ‘be’ in the space so I lay down and let the space take over, this was incredibly soothing as I felt a step removed from the activity, just sensing the audio, the people, and the movement of the clouds overhead.
When it came time to leave I felt bereft, leaving a bit of myself in the space, an echo of my experience. This for me is another profound element of the space, the Hive mimics the everyday in so many ways, we move through life interacting with others in different ways, whether by connecting or avoiding them.
I hope to be able to go and experience the Hive again, I urge you to as well! You won’t be disappointed!
Check out Wolfgang Buttress’s website for more detail.