Swarm down to Skelton Grange – a hive of activity

This week is Bees Needs Week, an annual event coordinated by Defra to help raise awareness of bees and other pollinators. Skelton Grange Environment Centre is joining in the campaign by engaging hundreds of Leeds children and adults in their ‘Swarm’ art project.

Bees and other pollinators are vital to growing lots of our favourite foods and for plants to flourish in our fields and gardens, but are sadly in decline. The Conservation Volunteers charity at Skelton Grange have worked with local people to plant wildflower meadows and establish bee hives at their nature reserve in south Leeds to help, and are also holding a public art exhibition this summer to raise awareness of these amazing creatures.

During Bees Needs Week, new artworks are being made by Leeds schools and community groups for the Swarm exhibition. Supported by Leeds Inspired and Grow Wild, these include a ceramic wildflower meadow inspired by the Tower of London poppies, a collaborative sculpture of bees, butterflies and other wildlife, and a record of the site’s wildflowers through the seasons preserved in natural beeswax.

Caroline Crossley, from The Conservation Volunteers at Skelton Grange says:

“We really want to engage the public in understanding the threats facing bees and other pollinators, and have been overwhelmed by the numbers of people taking part in this art project! Our charity’s vice president, Sir David Attenborough, has only this week been urging people to understand that our once common butterflies are declining, particularly rapidly in urban areas.

“We are very much looking forward to opening ‘Swarm’ to the public this summer so that even more people can come and learn how they can make a difference for bees and butterflies, as well as enjoying beautiful artwork and a walk in our nature reserve.”

Defra suggest that there are simple actions you can take to help pollinators and make sure their populations are sustained. These include grow more flowers, shrubs and trees, let your garden grow wild, and cut your grass less often.

Laney Birkhead’s inspirational Swarm installation will be at the heart of the exhibition, and visitors will be able to move through a ‘hive’ of 50,000 hand printed bees. This magical experience was explored and enjoyed by many people at Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley last year, and we are delighted to be able to bring this opportunity back to Leeds.  Visitors will also be able to enjoy and buy wonderful art and craft work created by of twelve local artists and makers in response to the plight of the honeybee and other pollinators.

Swarm at Skelton Grange – a celebratory exhibition and installations at Skelton Grange Environment Centre. Daily, from Saturday 19 August to Saturday 16 September, free entry.

More information can be found at www.tcv.org.uk/skeltongrange; (0113) 243 0815; or skelton@tcv.org.uk