All the bees are [not] dying

Peter Breen – Solo Exhibition

OPENING NIGHT: July 24th, Friday 6pm at Mayne Line Gallery and Studio

BeeLinoCut-Peter Breen

This body of work is mark-made observations of and connections with the environment that I live and move through along the East coast of Australia – from Brisbane to Melbourne. 

I present them not as a scientist, botanist, zoologist, arborist or apiarist but as an observer, drawer, artist and natural world lover. I present them as part of the reflective conversation so many are having. COVID-19 has inundated us while the effect of climate change and global warming has been given scant attention, though being very much alive and affecting.

Creating context

In these drawings and relief prints, I am pursuing a deeper understanding of the environment, its life cycles, its layers of interdependence and the effect of climate change on these cycles.

The sources for the final ink drawings of the Australian flora are widespread but have been drawn primarily in places along the East coast of Australia from Brisbane to Goomburra and south to Melbourne over the past 2 years. Most of the marks are blind contour drawings made in small hard backed journals with 2B – 8B Staedtler graphite pencils. These are the books I have chosen as my daily mark making discipline journals, attempting to train hand, head and eye. The drawings also evolved into meditation exercises– not botanical studies – and on each 4th page I have written a reflection in respect of the day of the drawings and the remembered moment, plant or tree. The reflections were sometimes written days or weeks after the marks were made and are silence themed.

The cloud and rain drawings are gestural abstractions while others are a re-rendering of cloud forms sketched in the journals while flying between Brisbane and Melbourne.

The Lino cut relief prints of the burnt-out Australian forest – there is no geographical map coordinates as it could have been anywhere in south-eastern Australia after the fires died out – reference the “Mackerel Sky” drawing and is an attempt to find some sense of the ghost like vastness and visceral impact of those burning months for our trees and our futures. 

The drawing of a bee is easier than drawing a horse, or a cow and slightly harder than drawing a leaf. But that wasn’t why I drew, cut lino and relief printed bees. It just so happened that bees found me. Maybe I saw a bee hive somewhere. That’s about it. And so the moment took me and I followed the “buzz”. Drawing and cutting lino again trained the hand, eye and brain. Being immersed in the images of bees, seeing them, watching them, drawing them slowly, quickly or gesturally or even watching their birth from the print process meant a deepening awareness of their beauty. And an increasing wonder. The journey continues.