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Overworked Bee

In this piece I wanted to highlight the plight of the bee, the parallels with our lives and what lessons we can learn from nature.

At its heart, Overworked Bee symbolises the stressed out, overworked persona and the inevitable consequences if changes are not made.

The global pandemic has sharply brought into focus the fragility of life and made us all aware of our mortality. Many of us are evaluating our work life balance, and making adaptations to avoid burnout. We are all burdened with pressures and stresses, and such major worldwide events allow for moments of self reflection.


Close up of a contemporary bee sculpture made using yellow and black cotton.


The inevitable result of endless commuting to and from the hive, collecting nectar and pollen results in the gradual wearing away and aging of the bee. It becomes weak and tired, their wings become fragile and begin to wear away to the point that they can no longer fly. This can, at times, result in them being unable to return back to their hives. In retrospect we can all relate to this- being overworked, overburdened and overloaded can lead to us feeling lost – mentally, spiritually and physically.

The bee is also the iconic symbol of Manchester. However, I feel it is overused and the importance of its symbolism has been overtaken by greed and self indulgence. It has been overworked to the point of destruction which is also represented in the aesthetic and style the bee has been created.

Constructed using sample bobbin from a now derelict cotton mill in Greater Manchester- it seemed to be serendipitous and inevitable that this material was to be used to create the bee. The cotton bobbins were purchased over 13 years ago when the mill was closing and the industry was dying out. Due to Manchester’s historical links with Cottonopolis it was the obvious material to use.

The Manchester Bee as a symbol of Manchester is overworked and overused. This dilutes the true meaning of what it symbolises.
Overworked bee is a contemporary sculpture with a bee made from cotton in a rusty enclosure

The bee is enclosed in a rusted concave enclosure to emphasize the overworked nature and the overexposure of the symbol. It has returned home, as we all have recently. Whether it is reflecting on its history, retreating from the present or re-energising for the future is for the observer to decide.

On show at Saul Hay Gallery  from 5th September as part of ‘FORM – a celebration of contemporary British sculpture’