Photographer Anne Noble says bees are wonderful as an indicator species, at the visible end of an invisible world that humans harm.
For a while, Anne Noble had a freezer full of dead bees.
With a little help from her reluctant husband, the photographer tore off their wings one by one, until she had a little heap and a little inspiration.
The bees came from a colony that had collapsed due to commercial spraying, and were given to it by the farmer who owned them.
Of course, it was all in the name of art. Noble’s new book, ConversÄtiÅ: In the company of bees confronts his astonishing photographs with the challenges of ecosystem collapse and climate change in a series of newly commissioned trials, shine the spotlight on this most important insect, the European bee.
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Noble has been raising bees since 2010. âFor anyone who becomes a beekeeper, this is the most wonderful journey to learn more about them. The beehive is a fascinating complex living system â,.
âPets are part of your family, but bees are wild. Having bees means you have to understand them.
Responsibility for the world they inhabited meant that she was constantly thinking about their needs; did they have enough food? What is flowering? Were they able to access enough pollen? Did she leave enough honey for them in their hives?
âAs an artist, one of the underlying things that interests me is how we relate to the places we live in,â she said. âI was just observing the bees and started photographing them. The first time I saw my hive swarm and land in a nearby pohutukawa tree, it was amazing.
As an indicator species, the bees were wonderful. “They are at the visible end of an invisible world that we are harming.”
The book is co-produced by Dr Zara Stanhope, director of the Govett Brewster Gallery in New Plymouth, and Anna Brown, the book’s designer, a longtime collaborator of Noble. It’s a beautiful object – dark blue, white and gold on a linen dust jacket.
MONIQUE FORD / STUFF
Jane Harding keeps four beehives in her garden in Wilton, Wellington, a project she first undertook to help pollinate her lush garden.
Along with photographs showing the beauty of translucent bee wings and photograms of dead bee wings – the product of many hours of delicate tweezers work – there is a series of black and white images under the microscope. electronic.
âAs a photographer and artist, I’m interested in all the machines we use to see the world.
Cameras were a machine, just like electron microscopes. âIt produces data which is then translated into images, far beyond what we can see. “
She used the microscope to create portraits, placing a dead bee in the tiny vacuum chamber and using the machine as a camera.
The resulting images took on strange qualities. With these images, there was no feeling of light. âThey look like they’ve been covered in dust, like objects in a strange museum.â
Noble was intrigued by how different types of light played with the wings. “I used film and my body and exposed the wings inside a roll of film, and exposed them through my hands.”
As the light passed through his hands, his hand became the camera, and with a new perspective, new ways of understanding emerged.
“I don’t think art offers solutions, but I think it offers challenges and new ways of seeing and imagining.”