Amélie Proulx’s ceramic installations deal with a subject that lies at the crossroads of fruit growing and beekeeping, two inseparable areas in that bees contribute to the pollination of 80% of plant and flower species. The artist began by meeting with many people at fruit farms and specialized research sites in a search for material to inform her installation. Proulx traced the movements of bees and developed a complex molding process to faithfully represent the pollinator. In a process that combined 3D imaging with ceramic firing and glazing, she made thousands of copies of them.
The low-relief Essaims chromatiques offers a vision of the social dimension of bees and the path they take in their foraging. Rented hives have to be used sometimes to bolster naturally occurring pollination and thereby ensure fruit production and quality. The artist observed bee-assisted pollination at Verger Petit & fils, an orchard located at Mont-Saint-Hilaire, and the activity of bumblebees at the blueberry farm of Vire-Crêpes in Saint-Nicolas. The chromatic shadings of the sculptures echo the rich colours of the pollen and honey; their palette is closely linked to the plants pollinated by the bees. To establish the provenance and taste profiles of honey, the identification of pollen has become increasingly important in the beekeeping industry, as we can see from the work of the agronomist Mélissa Girard, whom the artist consulted. The scientist has contributed to the development of the profession of melissopalynology, which specializes in the study of pollination in relationship to honey production.
The installation Bourdonnements variables also evokes the role that bees play in ensuring a successful fruit harvest. The ceramic container-shapes act as soundboards to render the subtle vibrations audible, like those that beekeepers listen for when determining the health of a hive. The artist was struck by this fact the very first time she met with the agronomist Martine Bernier at her apiculture station at the Centre de recherche en sciences animals de Deschambault. In the ensuing discussions between the scientist and the artist, each contributed their respective types of knowledge, which share the property of awakening all the senses.
Agricultural partners: Martine Bernier, Centre de recherche en sciences animales de Deschambault (CRSAD); Mélissa Girard, agronomist, melissopalynologist and beekeeper; Martine Labonté, Verger Petit & fils, Saint-Hilaire; Alain Soulard, Les Bleuets du Vire-Crêpes, Saint-Nicolas; Vincent Méthot, Ferme François et Lise Méthot, Saint-Nicolas
Text from the program of the 6th edition of ORANGE 2018 – L’événement d’art actuel de Saint-Hyacinthe – Conjuguer la traçabilité. Curators : Isabelle et Marie-Ève Charron
Porcelain, glaze, nichrome wire, pins, variable dimensions
Photo credit : Daniel Roussel