6000 Flowers

6000 Flowers was artist Josie Purcell's response to the Farms for AONBees' pollinators’ project that was in progress between Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (CAONB) and The Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI), University of Exeter.

Spring sees bumblebee queens visiting up to 6000 Flowers per day to collect enough nectar and pollen to establish her colony. However at this time of year there can be a shortfall in the availability of high quality flowers across agricultural landscapes.

Josie is a photographer with a passion for alternative and historic photographic processes that have as little impact on the environment as possible. The image making technique she implemented for this exhibition were the anthotype. This makes the most of nature's bounty through the use of a photosensitive emulsion made from the juice/pulp of plants, flowers and berries. The resulting delicate monochromatic images were produced within several hours or weeks depending on the solution used and the duration/strength of sunlight.

The ‘Farms for AONBees' project is seeking to make a significant difference to the quality of our landscapes for conservation and food production. At the core of this project is a computer programme developed in Prof. Juliet Osbornes’ pollinators research group at the ESI that replicates the foraging and colony survival of bees in realistic landscapes. The ESI and the CAONB are currently doing real time testing of the computer programme on agricultural holdings by working with 5 farms across the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Josie's exhibition drew on the science behind this project and its importance in helping us understand more about bees’ health, survival and the pollination they provide.

Colette Beckham, CAONB Partnership Manager said, “It’s great to see how science and the arts can come together through a project like Josie’s, to illustrate just how important it is to find solutions to the shortages of forage that can affect Cornish bumblebees whilst they’re on the wing right now”.

Dr Grace Twiston-Davies, the ESI Research Associate on the project said, “I am fascinated by Josie’s environmentally friendly techniques, powered by plants and combining traditional methods with modern technology, the perfect interpretation of our Farms for AONBees project”.