Bee Aware

The “Bee Aware” project is unique in that it combined environmental education with hands-on art making. The project increased awareness of the vital role Native Australian Solitary bees perform in the environment. 

Led by Southern Highlands artist Celeste Coucke with Ana Pollack the community helped create three amazing Bee Bell public artworks to raise awareness of native bees and bee habitat in the Wollondilly area.  

This project has seen Ana Pollak and myself guiding community members in the creation of three “Bee Bells”. Each of the works provides a different type of habitat for Australian solitary bees that we know are already present in the area.


Images by Steve Fearnley

The copper clad bee bell, with it’s clay cob substrate,  provides habitat for Resin Bees, Blue Banded bees and Teddy Bear Bees. Of the two terracotta bee bells, one provides a bamboo substrate – habitat for Leaf cutters, Reed bees and Masked bees- and a Xanthorrea or Grass Tree Substrate, which we hope will attract Carpenter Bees. – Celeste Coucke

These sculptural forms  provide habitat for native solitary bees whilst becoming a focal point which we hope will provoke questions and inspire visitors to learn more about the important pollination role our native bees perform.

The inspiration for the forms is  “Japanesque”. As bees offer a clear example of the symbiotic interconnectedness of all things, it’s no wonder that Bee Shrines – hives that are roofed with ornate Japanese tiles- are present in some Japanese Shinto Temples.

These Bee Bells combine a Japanese aesthetic with observation of the habits of native Australian Leaf cutter bees. n this project, the participants assumed the role of the leaf cutter bees, shaping leaves in copper and terracotta to clad each of the nesting substrates.

Megan Halcroft from Bees Business lead information sessions for the workshops and participants contributed to the creations of the gorgeous Bee Bells that now hang in the Picton Botanic Gardens. 

Find out more about the project head to Celest Coucke’s webpage or for more about native bees check out Bees Business. 

About Celeste Coucke

Celeste is an award winning artist who works predominantly in the field of public arts. She engages in place making projects, based on strong public consultation and collaboration. Whilst ceramics is her principal medium, she also works with timber, steel and stone on projects that have engaged thousands of people around NSW. Her current practice balances public art projects, private commissions and exhibition works.

In my work I seek to connect communities to stories that have shaped how we see ourselves and our environments. It’s all about listening and gathering stories, then reinterpreting them visually and disseminating via collaborative art making. These processes are strong and meaningful. They connect people to stories and places in a physical rather than merely intellectual way. Without such connections, life becomes fragile.

About Ana Pollack

Ana lives and works on Dangar Island on the Hawkesbury River. She began her art studies at the Byam Shaw School of Painting and Drawing in London in 1976 and at Alexander Mackie School of Art from 1978 to 1980. Her involvement with film began in 1980. From 1981 – 1983 she created the animated film “Cathedral Forms”.

From 1977 – 1983 Pollak created a sculpture program for children at the North Rocks School for Blind Children, Sydney. Since 1988 she has been involved in community actions to protect the Hawkesbury River Environment and in community art projects. After a series of extended drawing trips from 1993 – 2002, with her partner and painter David Collins, Pollak decided to focus more fully on drawing.

The awarding of the Dobell Prize for Drawing in 2007, allowed her to work full time on her drawing. In 2009 she returned to working with film to make ” Flux “. 

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We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the traditional custodians of the lands where we create, live & work. 

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