Art for bees: ‘crazy’ installation suits the taste of pollinators | art

she admits that her new installation, at least to the human eye, may look a bit garish – clashing colors, strange shapes, curious juxtapositions – but artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg doesn’t mind that at all.

Taking shape at the eco-visitor attraction the Eden Project in Cornwall, the 55-metre stretch of Ginsberg is not, like most art, designed to please people, but rather to accommodate bees, butterflies, moths, wasps and other endangered pollinators .

“It means I got this crazy-looking design,” Ginsberg said in a break from the chilly, muddy occupation of fall plants. “There are strange juxtapositions of shapes, patterns and colors that no gardener would imagine to plant. It is designed to be of the greatest benefit to pollinators, suiting their tastes rather than ours.”

The piece, Pollinator Pathmaker, should be in full bloom by late spring or early summer, and new editions of the work will be planted in London and Berlin.

Ginsberg was originally trying to come up with a piece about pollinators when the thought occurred to her, “Why not make a sculpture for the pollinators instead of about them?”

At Eden, Ginsberg has worked with professional gardeners, pollinator experts and a master beekeeper, Rodger Dewhurst, but a surprising team member is string theory physicist Przemek Witaszczyk of Jagiellonian University, Krakow, who helped create an algorithm for piece.

Witaszczyk took into account elements such as the shape and style of travel of different pollinators and when individual flowers come into bloom to ensure conditions are right for as long as possible. “We want to serve the largest number of pollinators,” says Ginsberg.

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg at the Eden Project, Cornwall.
Ginsberg sees her artwork as a call to action against the loss of bees and butterflies. Photo: Jim Wileman/The Guardian

Horticulturists, students, apprentices and volunteers have braved the bleak conditions to plant thousands of plants, which will burst into dazzling colors in the Eden Project’s Wild Edge Zone, which stretches around the perimeter slopes of the gardens and is visible from the other side of the terrain.

Another critical part of the project is the launch on Wednesday of a website that will allow people to use the algorithm to design their own unique version of her work.

Users can enter the size of the patch they want to plant, the position of their garden and the soil conditions and then see a 3D visualization of their unique garden bloom on their screen. The images that emerge are a work of art in themselves, each plant is hand painted by Ginsberg.

Some of the specimens at the site are as extraordinary as the pollinators that benefit from them, such as Echium pininana, a rare example of a plant that produces nectar all day, and Cynara cardunculus, the artichoke thistle, a valuable source of nectar for bumblebees.

Ginsberg sees this as “an international cultural campaign” and an “interspecies art experiment” to help save endangered species of pollinating insects.

She hopes people will grow these in any space available – at home, in fields, community gardens, even in a window box if this is all the space they have. The artist admits that the gardens could be expensive if they cover a large, intensively planted area, but costs could be limited in more modest plans. “I hope together we can create the largest climate-positive artwork ever by planting living artworks for pollinators around the world.”

The Pollinator Pathmaker project is part of Create a Buzz, a three-year program for the Eden Project that includes new plantings of wildflower fields and a range of community and education projects.

Misha Curson, senior curator at the Eden Project, described Pollinator Pathmaker as a “shape-breaking commission,” combining technology, conservation, horticulture and visual arts. “It’s a really powerful way to help us as humans to think beyond our own needs and wants and consider the impact of our actions,” she said.

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