Seashell Trust pupils buzzing over their Bee in the City!

Seashell Trust bee in the city creation collage

A giant bee created by our students with complex needs will be unveiled this week, as part of one of the largest mass participation arts events ever held in the North West. 

After months of hard work, Seashell Trust’s ‘Shellbee’ will go proudly on display INSIDE Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, forming part of the ‘Bee in the City’ trail. The bee has been designed to encourage children and young people with sensory impairment to engage with an art work which lights up when approached, and buzzes and vibrates when touched. 

Sponsorship of the bee by the Laltex Group made participation in the event possible for the Royal School Manchester, part of the Seashell Trust. 

Seashell’s bee was designed by Artist in Residence at the trust Lauren Mullarkey, who ensured the school’s children and young people played a crucial role in Shellbee’s creation. In collaboration with staff from school and sponsors Laltex, they made the mosaic tiles that cover the base, as well as producing the fused glass in the bee’s wings.

Every single Royal School pupil created their own honeycomb tile for the base of the bee sculpture, meaning that the bee truly has truly been a team effort.

The bee is soft to the touch thanks to its knitted stripes made of long haired wool. A layer of copper underneath the wool completes an electric circuit that see the eyes light up and the whole bee vibrate and buzz when certain areas are touched.

The buzz noise was produced by Chris Emerson, viola player with Manchester’s world leading Hallé Orchestra who hold music workshops for children and young people at Seashell Trust.

Headteacher Anne Gough shared her excitement about the project: “We’re so proud to have produced a bee for Bee in the City and for our pupils to be part of such a large scale and prestigious art event.  It’s wonderful that while everyone can enjoy Shellbee, she’s designed to enable sensory impaired children to engage with the art trail. We think she’s guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face. After the event, Shellbee will return to Seashell Trust and we can’t wait to have a permanent display of this amazing collaboration.”

Artist in Residence, Lauren added: “A lot of love has gone into the creation of Shellbee.The most wonderful part of the project has been the fabulous team of children, staff, volunteers, artists and musicians who have all contributed to make this sculpture a true celebration of diversity. The children and young people we work with deserve this limelight.”

Shellbee is one of more than 100 bees that will form the ‘Bee in the City’ trail through streets, parks and public spaces in Manchester. The nine-week long event is expected to attract around 1m visitors to the city centre. Following the event, the bee will return to its permanent home of Seashell Trust’s Royal School in September.