Why Seashell Trust's Bee in the City is the bee all and end all

Seashell Trust Art teacher, Lauren Mullarkey, student, Khalifa Souyaed, Chris Emmerson, Halle Musician, Arts Technologist, Chris Ball (working with Drake Music)

As all of Manchester is buzzing about the official start of the Bee in the City street sculpture trail, Seashell Trust is set to unveil a unique creation every art lover will want to get their hands on.

While the more than one hundred giant bees will be a feast for the eyes, many people will miss out on their beauty through disability.

We made sure we considered the needs of all Mancunians in its design of our ‘Shellbee’.

Everyone, including people who are visually impaired, deaf, deafblind, sensorily challenged and young children – who are often told to keep their wandering hands away from artwork, will be able to enjoy the sculpture.

Our students here at the Seashell Trust-Royal School Manchester have some of the most profound and complex conditions and disabilities in the country.

Every student had a hand in the artwork, making it one of the most inclusive bees in the Manchester trail.

By bringing together different textures, sounds, lights, vibrations and interactive elements, Shellbee reflects our children – multi-sensory art at its best.

Volunteer experts also went to great lengths to achieve the perfect fusion of sight, sound and touch.

Lauren Mullarkey, Seashell Trust’s artist in residence, said: “Chris Emerson, from the Halle Orchestra, spent weeks researching bees and recording different buzz sounds using his viola, didgeridoo, voice and by throat singing. He also went out into the Peaks to record the perfect countryside ambience to accompany the buzzes.

“Musician and music producer Stevie Williams beautifully mastered the buzz sounds to create a variety of resonance for our students.

“Arts technologist Chris Ball, who works with Drake Music, created the interactive elements of the sculpture, including the vacuum-cast animated eyes and interactive yellow stripes and thorax.

“Jean Barratt, from Seashell Trust, made the sumptuous knitted yellow stripes while Christian Knott made our fused-glass wings possible by cutting through the fibreglass and steel, injecting with expanding foam, inserting the students’ fused glass work, filling with wood filler and sealing into place.”

Shellbee will buzz into position at the Royal Exchange – the only bee with an indoor location – for the official opening of the exhibition on Monday, July 23.

Visitors will have nine weeks to discover all the Bees in the City. Let us know when you have spotted Shellbee by posting a picture or even better a video of her in action on social media and tagging @SeashellTrust in.

WATCH: video footage of Seashell Trust’s Shellbee in action