Each year, the Art Collection's exhibitions, events and workshops are directly inspired by the research of the University. This year the focus is on environment, and with the umbrella title ‘Under Threat’ we highlight a variety of pressing issues.
Here we showcase the work of artist, poet and University of Stirling alumnus Alec Finlay who returned to his alma mater in 2013 as the University’s first Artist in Residence, to research the science and culture of beekeeping and create new bee-themed public sculptures for the University Art Collection, while drawing attention to the plight of the honeybee. He said: “Stirling is renowned worldwide for its scientific bee research, particularly its work on the destructive impact of insecticides on wild bee populations, so I was able to draw on this expertise and use it to inform my work”.
Alec Finlay was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and worked collaboratively between Stirling’s Faculties of Natural Sciences and Arts & Humanities. He collaborated in particular with Professor Kathleen Jamie, Chair in Creative Writing and multi award-winning poet, who shares his creative interests in the natural world.
His research at Stirling was wide-reaching and explored the symbolism of bees in ancient myth and philosophy, and the recurring motif of the bee in accounts of politics, economics and society. He also looked at contemporary scientific studies of bee communication, cognitive behaviour and honeycomb construction and considered bees’ relevance in a diverse range of subjects including architecture, Systems Theory, informatics and social networks.
He produced a ‘creative survey’ of the UK’s bee population and translated his research into poetry and sculpture. Together with the Art Collection’s curators he installed these permanent artworks on campus. The project reinforced Stirling’s reputation for multidisciplinary research and cross-cultural innovation, as well as its longstanding commitment to making art an integral part of the everyday campus experience.