Conversātiō: In the Company of Bees by Anne Noble (Massey University Press, $60)
Could this book be any more magical? Its author, Anne Noble, is one of Aotearoa’s preeminent photographers and here, with art curator/writer Zara Stanhope and book designer Anna Brown, she’s collected her work on honeybees to create a thing of beauty that will bring you joy forever, from screen-printed cloth cover to cover.
Ten years ago, Anne installed a hive at the bottom of her Wellington garden. In time, observing the bees going about their business changed the way she saw the world, reframing it as an intricately interconnected network. Exploring the essential part these fascinating insects play in it became a passion and the impetus for myriad of her photography, video and installation projects, including the exemplary work this book is named after — a ‘cabinet of wonder’ shown at the 2019 Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane, the pulsing heart of which was a live colony of bees.
Printed on a captivating array of paper stocks, this enchanting compendium interweaves interviews, essays, extracts and poems (plus lift-out letters and a poster) with Anne’s exquisite images to entertain, educate and emphasise how vital these veritable canaries in the coal mine are to our ecosystem — and existence. Elegantly spanning art, literature and science, it really is the bee’s knees.
Words Philippa Prentice