Harrogate artist's blockbuster show in new success

Harrogate artist Laney Birkhead at work in her studio.
Harrogate artist Laney Birkhead at work in her studio.

Such has been the blockbuster success of Swarm, Harrogate artist Laney Birkhead’s installation piece inspired by eco themes and the plight of the bees, it’s still attracting offers of exhibitions in a range of locations.

The latest appearance of Swarm is at Skelton Grange Environment Centre near Leeds.

It’s an appropriate and beautiful setting for environmentally-conscious painter and printmaker Laney Birkhead’s popular work which includes her famous ‘hive’ of 50,000 hand-printed bees on 126 huge hexagonal sheets made of natural calico.

Located just two miles south of Leeds centre, the beautiful Skelton Grange eco-building is set in a 10 acre nature reserve reclaimed from a formerly industrial site.

Running from August 19 to September 16, Swarm is part of the centre’s current 25th anniversary celebrations.

The magical experience of Swarm was first explored and enjoyed by huge audiences at the Inspired by Gallery in Danby and Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley last year.

A documentary produced by Paul Harris will also be screened at Skelton Grange Environment Centre telling the story of how hundreds of people from all over Yorkshire helped print the 50,000 bees, turning them into art.

Laney said: “I got this mad idea and it’s blossomed. Gardeners came. Botanists came, other artists came. Schoolchildren came. Whole swathes of differerent people came to the first show. The exhibition has been successful on so many levels.”

Constructing the original installation piece, which followed workshops Laney held with pupils in schools across North Yorkshire, involved help from four volunteers.

Visitors at Skelton Grange will also be able to enjoy and buy beautiful art and craft work created by the Swarm collective of 12 local artists and makers in response to the plight of the honeybee and other pollinators.

Other pieces to enjoy will include the Be One soundscape from the ‘Hive’ exhibition at Kew Gardens.