Seashell Trust’s disabled students are buzzing about their Bee in the City

Seashell students say goodbye to Shellbee
Seashell students say goodbye to Shellbee

A giant bee created by children with complex needs in Stockport has buzzed off to join one of the largest mass participation arts events ever held in the north west.

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 artwork that lights up when approached, and buzzes and vibrates when touched.

Sponsorship of the bee by Leigh import firm 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 that the school’s children and young people played a crucial role in Shellbee’s creation.

With staff from school and Laltex, they made the mosaic tiles that cover the base, as well as producing the fused glass in the bee’s wings.

Every 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 lights up the eyes light up and the whole bee vibrates and buzzes when certain areas are touched.

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

Headteacher Anne Gough said: “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.”

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.

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