Rebecca Chesney

Rebecca Chesney

Diligent Observation Yorkshire Sculpture Park 2011
Residency and solo exhibition

The exhibition Diligent Observation was the outcome of a research residency based at Yorkshire Sculpture Park throughout 2010 to study the bee populations of the Bretton Estate.
I surveyed the parkland for species of bumblebees and solitary bees and all the plants they feed on and under the guidance of bee keeper Ivor Flatman we set up two honey beehives on site to learn beekeeping skills and observe the life cycle of the honey bee at close range.

Rebecca Chesney YSP 01
In total 9 species of bumblebee and 7 species of solitary bee were found:
Bombus terrestris Buff-tailed Bumblebee
Bombus lapidarius Red-tailed Bumblebee
Bombus hypnorum Tree Bumblebee
Bombus pascuorum Common Carder-bee
Bombus lucorum White-tailed Bumblebee
Bombus bohemicus Gypsy Cuckoo-bee
Bombus pratorum Early Bumblebee
Bombus hortorum Garden Bumblebee
Bombus vestalis Vestal Cuckoo-bee
Megachile willughbiella
Andrena scotica
Anthidium manicatum Wool Carder Bee
Andrena helvola
Andrena denticulata
Andrena subopaca
Halictus rubicundus

Rebecca Chesney YSP 06
YSP Map of Bees July
Ink on tracing paper 84 x 118 cm (from a series of 8 monthly maps March - October)
Photo of map by Jonty Wilde

All plants that bees were noted feeding on were plotted and I collected and pressed plant specimens to build an archive documenting the diversity of plants on site. Each specimen sheet is labelled (with date, location and any notes) and stamped (with the date of mounting on to paper).

Rebecca Chesney YSP 02

L-R: Common Poppy Papaver rhoeas, Creeping Buttercup Ranunculus repens, Lime Tilia x europaea
Plant specimens on paper, label, ink stamp 42 x 29 cm. Series of 25
Photos of specimen sheets by Jonty Wilde

Rebecca Chesney Bees 01
Top L-R: Bombus vestalis, Bombus hortorum, Bombus hypnorum, Bombus pratorum
Bottom L-R: Bombus pascuorum, Bombus lucorum, Bombus lapidarius, Bombus terrestris
Gouache on Moleskin paper, each 9 x 14 cm

Research shows that newly planted forage areas greater in size than 0.25ha (0.62 acres) are big enough to have a positive impact on bumblebee populations. Wildflower meadows are the most important habitat for bumblebees as they provide flowers throughout the summer and contain many nectar and pollen rich plant species favoured by bumblebees.
Meadow habitats also support a great variety of invertebrates, birds and mammals too: honeybees, solitary bees, moths, butterflies, spiders, beetles, damsel and dragonflies, ladybirds, hoverflies, grasshoppers, ants, worms, mice, shrews, voles, moles, birds (e.g goldfinches and kestrels) bats, foxes etc.
As a result of my residency at YSP I proposed the planting of two meadows, square in shape, one entirely of yellow flowers, one entirely of blue flowers.
Each meadow to be approx 1 acre in size (4,000 m2) and slightly separate from each other.

Rebecca Chesney YSP 03
Suspended Disbelief
Scale model showing potential meadow sites at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Grey board, perspex, wood, paint, map pins 65 x 105 cm

Yellow flower list:
Yellow Rattle Rhinanthus minor
Creeping Buttercups Ranunculus repens
Meadow Buttercup Ranunculus acris
Bird’s-foot-trefoils Lotus corniculatus
St John’s-wort Hypericum perforatum
Tormentil Potentilla erecta
White Clover Trifolium repens
Common Toadflax Linaria vulgaris
Autumn Hawkbit Leontodon autumnalis
Kidney-vetch Anthyllis vulneraria
Meadow Vetchling Lathyrus pratensis

Blue flower list:
Meadow Crane’s-bill Geranium pratense
Knapweed Centaurea nigra
Tufted Vetch Vicia cracca
Red Clover Trifolium pratense
Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustre
Field Scabious Knautia arvensis
Russian Comfrey Symphytum x uplandicum (or Green Alkanet Pentaglottis sempervirens)
Self-heal Prunella vulgaris
Harebell Campanula rotundifolia

Rebecca Chesney Yorkshire Sculpture Park 05
Rebecca Chesney YSP 04

Top: Diligent Observation exhibition at YSP in 2011
Bottom: Wall of Dead Bees
Dead bees installed within one of the gallery walls. Collection includes virgin queen honey bee, worker and drone honey bees, various bumblebees.

Click here to see the development of my meadow installation in Everton Park in 2012


Back to Artworks