What inspired this work?
In the late 90s, sculptor Bill Woodrow turned to beekeeping as a theme for a series of artworks, attending a beekeeping course to find out more about his chosen subject. While on the beekeeping course, he was given the opportunity to hold a swarm of bees on his bare hand.
He described it as “incredibly light and there was this slight movement that you could just feel on your skin and there was this constant temperature. It was a very light, delicate touch. There was something fabulous about having this thing on your hand and that experience stuck with me.”
What is it standing on?
The three supporting “legs” are in fact fingers, representing Woodrow’s hand under the swarm of bees. One of the fingers is placed in a bowl of wax, signifying honey. Woodrow couldn’t have used honey itself in the sculpture, as it is less stable than wax; but as another product of the hive, wax provides a suitable substitute.
What created the gold surface?
The artist has covered the bronze with gold leaf, resulting in its shiny colour. The bumpy surface resembles hundreds of bees covering the surface. Woodrow made these with the imprint of a single bee shape. He first created the overall form and made a mould of it, lining the mould with Plasticine. He carved a bee and imprinted this repeatedly into the Plasticine, so the negative shape of bees covered the surface. When this was cast in bronze, the swarm of bees we see in the final piece emerged.
Why is it called Fingerswarm?
Woodrow’s title is a deliberate pun. It can mean “finger-swarm” referring to the three fingers, or “fingers-warm” alluding to the heat of the bees and the honey on the fingers.