At the end of February some of the students involved in our Bees & Weeds project submitted their designs and artwork to the brilliant Old Fire Station Arts Centre Gallery/Shop. Success!! All of the work submitted was accepted and will be showcased in our exhibition there from March 23rd to the end of April with an extended 6 month contract to supply the shop.
The trend for designs based on images of our native wildlife, particularly birds, bees, butterflies and flowers, seems to go from strength to strength. Million of products are mass produced each year carrying images of our native flora and fauna from clothes, soft furnishing, and every kind of homeware to stationery, artwork and wallpaper. It’s difficult to know what has sustained this trend. Perhaps we are at last beginning to realise what we have lost by eliminating so many of our native species from the countryside. In 2013 a consortium of 25 UK conservation and research organisations published evidence in The State of UK Nature showing that we have lost over 50% of many native species from the countryside in the past 50 years. This is largely due to industrial farming practices that have caused loss of wildlife habitat and overconsumption of food products.
Why then, you might ask, are we promoting the production of yet more consumer goods? One of our aims is to work with art & design students to highlight issues of sustainability in design and the potential that artist have to create work that conveys a message. The students submitting work here are all studying an Oxford Brookes BA Honours Degree in Creative Arts. We collaborated with course leaders providing results of scientific research, from Professor Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex, on the importance of bumblebees in food production and facilitated access to venues that will help students showcase their work.
The response has been inspiring. The students have considered every aspect of the creative process carefully and relished the difficult challenge of making sustainable work. They have used sustainably produced papers, organic linen and cotton, water based inks and bio-degradable packaging. All of the designs and artwork are hand made to a high standard in small limited editions and imaginative labelling focuses on the issues. Sincere thanks to our students and all of the partners listed below for helping us deliver this so successfully.