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Bee Myths


is a letterpress artists’ book made entirely by hand by Amy Shelton, and was created in response to the emerging story of the catastrophic worldwide pollinator losses that came to light during the autumn of 2006. Melissographia consists of a series of four poems by John Burnside embedded within a book-form. For this collaboration they delved deep into the bibliography of bees and beekeeping in archives across the UK.


The seasonal sequence of poems Burnside wrote for the project are scattered with embossed individually hand- painted pollen maps, referencing the vivid array of colours of the pollen loads collected by the honeybee from single plant species. Each hand-made copy of Melissographia is flecked with 24 carat gold leaf and includes tiny beeswax coated drawings of bees, as well as pressed botanical herbarium samples of flowers crucial to sustaining pollinators (each one enclosed in a tiny glassine envelope).


The first edition of 100 was made in 2009, and there is a second edition of 167 signed, numbered copies.

Melissographia is in rare-books collections including:

Wellcome Collection, London 

The Gutenberg Museum, Germany

The Centre for Artists’ Books, Dundee 

The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

National Poetry Library at The Royal Festival Hall

University collections across the UK and internationally

Melissographia has been exhibited at:

Apiculture: Bees and The Art of Pollination II, Spacex, Exeter (2016)
Bee Myths, Shelton & Burnside, DAAD Galerie Zimmerstraße, Berlin (2015)
Bee Works, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (2015)
Collaborations, Amy Shelton & John Burnside, Literaturbüro Ostwestfalen-Lippe, Detmold (2014)
Apiculture: Bees and The Art of Pollination, Peninsula Arts (2014)
Black Bee Project, The Core, Eden Project, Cornwall (2014)
Amy Shelton - Bee Works, National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre, London (2013)

Poetry Beyond Text tour Royal Scottish Academy, The Mound, Edinburgh; 
Moray Art Centre, Findhorn; Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh; 
Visual Research Centre, Dundee Contemporary Arts (2011)

John Burnside reading Melissographia

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