Wolfgang Buttress – A Symphony of Bee and Man

Somewhere in the net, the word hive (the bee’s house, as little fans of Maya the Bee, might humanize the term), is translated as “a place swarming with activity.”

Another place, where for at least once a year a veeery long weekend reverberates with all sorts of swarming activity, is the legendary Glastonbury Music Festival in England.

BEAM at Glastonbury – photo by Mark Hadden

Although the activities indulged in at the abovementioned locations are to some extent clearly different, it is only fitting that the artist Wolfgang Buttress decided last year to plant his sculpture BEAM in the middle of the frenetically partying festival fans in order to create a “symphony of bee and man.” Ideally, festival-goers could thereby attain a moment of conscious awareness of “bee-ing” amidst their buzzing musical bliss.

Hopefully, this will, in some way, help the bees. They need help now, otherwise, someday we will be beyond help (bees were just declared the most important species on earth.)

HIVE at Kew Gardens
HIVE at Kew Gardens

Time to buzz back to art and the honeycomb of creativity. Wolfgang Buttress has already embraced the issue in the broadest possible sense with his sculpture “The Hive,” which is displayed at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew near London in 2016.

The Hive is not only an impressive permanent installation. It enables multi-sensory experiences at the interface between art and science, light and sound, and between its enormous physical dimensions and inner tranquility.

HIVE at Kew Gardens

In other words, the activities (of course not those of the Glasto ravers, but rather those of bees in an actual bee colony) are transformed via algorithmic vibrations so that Buttress’ The Hive begins to pulsate and glow. Entering a spherical shape at the base of the sculpture, visitors can see, hear, and feel what goes on when Maya and her companions live and work, humming and buzzing while they turn their sticky nectar into honey.

Admittedly, this portrayal of the artwork is honeycombed with omissions, so perhaps it would be best to make the trip to Kew Gardens and expose yourself to the hive vision of an intriguing contemporary artist, whose work can genuinely be described as the “bee” all and end all.

Wolfgang Buttress and Michael Evis
Wolfgang Buttress and Glastonbury co-creator Michael Evis