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I have 36 photographic portraits of bees, hoverflies and moths on display at the Mann Gallery, Cornell University, USA, as part of the PolliNation exhibition. The work was produced at the Cornell University Insect Collection, CUIC. Description below.
The PolliNation exhibition developed from a pioneering research funded project in Wales, UK, called Cross-Pollination: Revaluing Pollinators through Arts and Science Collaboration. The project was an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded Networking project that brought Art and Science on creative art projects that explored and promoted the crisis facing pollinators. Additional funding was provided by the Arts Council of Wales, to enhance the art-work production and to increase the impact of the project. The project was led by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in partnership with Aberystwyth University and the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
About the artworks
Most people when asked to describe a pollinator will think of a honeybee or a bumblebee such as Bombus terrestris (Europe), not realising that there are 25,000 known species of bee in the world (about 4,000 in the USA and 250 in the UK). A quote from the British writer John Fowles suggests, “The greatest threat to our countryside is less the physical harm we do than a growing detachment from that reality”. These portraits attempt to address the separation of people from the diversity and richness of these wonderful and very important creatures. They were collected from around the world, Bolivia, Australia and Argentina for example, and from as far back as the 1800s.
This work originated with Andrea Liggins working in collaboration with Dr Andrew Lucas, photographing forgotten and overlooked landscapes, the wild, marshy fields of Wales and the forgotten pollinators themselves – Hoverflies. During a four-day visit to Cornell University, Liggins was introduced to the amazing insect collection (CUIC). She spent her visit making these portraits of bees, hoverflies and moths, assisted by a research student Paige Muniz.
Liggins says of the photographs “These are not sharply focused images, that show you what the bees and hoverflies look like in all their scientific detail but are meant to be portraits, that engage you with their ‘being’. I don’t know whether bees and hoverflies have personalities, but I saw each of them as an individual, full of character. I felt that I came to know each one, as a portrait artist would get to know the sitter and I hope that comes across.”