Anneka French – Work in Progress

Photo of Alfred 1642

A swarm of docile honey bees have temporarily settled themselves in the branches of a small tree on the edge of a pathway. A man reaches a wicker skep up to the swarm, carefully trying to coax the little creatures in, or to slice the branch clean off and catch them. In his neat beard, turn-of-the-century wool suit and straw boater, this man is recognisably Alfred Watkins and the bees are his.

AW1642 Bees Man taking a swarm (A Watkins)

Photo of Marion 1644

Marion appears in a handful of Watkins’ bee photographs. In each she wears highly inadequate (to modern eyes at least), formal, restrictive clothing. The heat in this photograph looks to be incredible but at least her skin is covered to provide some protection from the sun’s and the bees’ stings. Dots mark the surface of the photograph and prick Marion’s long skirt. Roland Barthes has identified a particular photographic phenomenon: the punctum, a tiny piercing arrow-like form that protrudes from the surface of the photograph and into the space or body of the viewer. This is a ‘sting, speck, cut [or] little hole’ almost exactly like a bee sting. (Barthes, Camera Lucida, p.16)

AW1644 Bees Woman taking a swarm

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