Bees : There’s good art and there’s bad art, and then there’s truly terrible art – that’s the situation with the recently revealed Princess Diana bronze statue by Ian Rank-Broadley.
“In the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, Diana’s statue reminds us of other unusual sculptures, like the Ronaldo bust by Emanuel Santos at Madeira airport or the George Best statue by Tony Currie outside Windsor Park in Belfast.
The sculpture of Diana lacks essential aspects that defined her, such as elegance and beauty. Frozen in a cold gesture, she appears to be protecting two children, while a third child hides behind her, perhaps feeling ashamed. The portrayal lacks the warmth and kindness that she was known for. Maybe if she had been depicted walking across an active minefield in her practical jacket, symbolizing the metaphorical minefield she navigated throughout her life with the royal family, her kindness, strength, and humanitarian spirit would have been better represented. But we will never know.
The statue raises questions about modern sculptures and whether they can capture the emotion, sensuality, and beauty found in classical statues. Perhaps we can find inspiration from Pierre Huyghe’s works to create something more meaningful and useful for future generations.
Pierre Huyghe, a Paris-born but New York-based artist, is known internationally for bridging the gap between biological and technological worlds, creating immersive environments in constant change. In 2017, he presented the sculpture “Exomind” (deep water), which developed from another statue conceived for Docuementa 13 in Kassel in 2012, inspired by a reclining female nude by Max Weber.”
The artwork called “Exomid” is a sculpture of a crouching woman, inspired by the work of Japanese sculptor Tobari Kogan (1882-1927). The sculpture features a beehive covering the woman’s head, with a live colony of busy bees inside it. One of these sculptures was permanently placed in a garden environment created by the artist at the Dazaifu Temmangu shrine on the Japanese island of Fukuoka. Additionally, the artist made replicas of the sculpture for other exhibitions and events.
For instance, until the end of June, “Exomid” was displayed in the garden of the Young Museum in San Francisco as part of the exhibition titled “Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI.”
The exhibition’s title matched well with the statue’s eerie appearance. Even though the sculpture represents a female figure with a human body, the presence of buzzing bees in its head gives it a somewhat alien-like look, making it unclear at first glance who or what this mysterious creature is.
The artwork contains many metaphors. The artist wants to convey that keeping bees in our minds can help save our planet. The statue is part of a more complex system.
On the statue’s head, there is a growing and uncultivated beehive that constantly transforms into a living, breathing mask. It also pollinates the surroundings and affects the area around it. The bees symbolize complex neural networks in the brain linked with natural forms and processes, as well as studies about understanding such networks.
Additionally, the bees produce wax and honey, reminding us of how ideas can turn into physical products, objects, installations, and more.
Some may find it drastic and surreal to cover statues we don’t like with beehives, but it would be entertaining and serve as a reminder of the importance of bees in the cycle of life. In the case of Diaпa, covering her with a beehive would be poignant, as she was a Princess who would be remembered after her life as a strong and determined queen bee.