When walking through Piccadilly Place, you’ll have noticed the mirrored Poetry Discs that hang in a row on a black granite wall. Adorned with “A Poem for Manchester” by Mike Duff, the discs were created by local artists Lauren Sagar and Sharon Campbell. Across each of the discs is a bee in flight, with its voyage mapped across the discs.
What you definitely won’t have spotted is the bee that’s hidden in the design of the Ice Box, a separate 8m x 8m sculpture by the same artists that resides a short distance away, encasing the car park’s air conditioning unit.
Both the Poetry Discs and the Ice Box were commissioned as part of the large-scale development Piccadilly Place, with the Poetry Discs added in 2006 and the Ice Box in 2008. I contacted Lauren and Sharon to ask about the two pieces and the inclusion of the bee.
Sharon: “The worker bee in the Poetry discs represented Manchester. We both liked the concept and the fact it represented the town we lived in and worked in, so having it in our work made sense.
The Bee also represented people, the people who had worked to build the town. Many buildings in towns can feel alienating and harsh, so with the art work we tried to bring ‘soul’ and a human touch to the built landscape, which is supposed to be for people to live in.”
Lauren: “We also liked to include a bee in commissions to comment on how artists are part of the working community too which we felt people often overlook.”
Sharon: “I can’t remember what exactly initially sparked the bee also being included in the ice box, apart from continuing with a theme, I expect we were feeling a little rebellious, and liked the idea of ‘art’ appearing and connecting the two art works.
Also, there is a museum in Oxford called the Pitt Rivers Museum. While I was a student in Oxford Polytechnic, I had been caught by a story told by one of the art teachers (which may or may not be true), of how the outside of the Museum’s gargoyles and decorative bits had been carved by stone carving craftsmen, who had slightly altered a few aspects of the designs and carved their thing, because they were disgruntled or drunk. I hasten to add, that neither myself or Lauren were disgruntled or drunk!
I also liked the idea of the subtle change, or leaving behind a signature note of humanness, that had to be found. We liked our work to be enjoyed from afar and up close looking at the detail, and this would mean people would have to search up close.
The change was so small in the overall design of Ice Box, we did not get the bee signed off, I think. I’m still not sure if Argent, the developers of the site, even know about it now. The drawings supplied, used to create the printing screens had to be tiny, to get the effect we wanted on the ice box, of hugely magnified hand drawings, so the bee would have very, very tiny initially. We may have even had to take the image in separately and have it scanned separately”.
No one that I know of has mentioned the bee, initially even I had to look for it. I do know where to look now though!”
I’ve featured the Ice Box bee as the header image above but If you’d like to see it yourself, you’ll need to go and have a close-up look at the sculpture. For more information on Lauren and Sharon’s artwork and projects, including the award-winning The Chandelier of Lost Earrings, please visit their websites: Lauren Sagar and Sharon Campbell.