Underpinning our work is a curiosity with language and storytelling - the stories we tell ourselves and one another to make sense of the past, the contemporary world and future realities, and how human cultures and the natural world make use of oral and visual coded marks and patterns to communicate.
Collaborations with authors, publishers and a wide range of artists, botanists and scientists have manifested in an eclectic body of work across multiple forms including original drawings, artists’ books, collages, letterpress print works, prints on paper, audio pieces and framed clay-works.
Our artworks, exhibitions and projects probe the ways we attempt to organise nature and human societies, and how knowledge held in other cultures, species and disciplines can inform current thinking to help us mitigate the collapse of ecosystems and imagine more sustainable futures.
We are committed to nurturing environmental literacy and are delighted that our work in Exeter contributes to the city's UNESCO status as a City of Literature.
Modes of storytelling
Since their first collaboration in 2000, award-winning author John Burnside and artist Amy Shelton have created a body of work inspired by their shared love of wild landscapes, folk, plant and animal lore and a fascination with natural systems, as well as historic books and folios, maps, logbooks, diaries, letters, and hand-written journals.
Each series has delved into the rich vein of the bibliography of bees and human culture, bringing to light stories that are retold and reimagined, reconsidering deeply embedded cultural narratives in a contemporary light. These visual and text-based works explore how myth, folklore and imaginative acts can play an important role in our ability to avoid or adapt to the threat of illness and dis/un-ease.
Bee Myths (2021)
A series of framed porcelain clay and beeswax artworks, accompanied by works on paper and a sound recording
Melissographia (1st edition 2009, 2nd edition in progress)
An entirely hand-made letterpress artists’ book containing a series of poems and hand painted pollen maps
Angels & Animals (2000)
A limited-edition artists’ book, consisting of poems by Burnside and a series of monochromatic Indian ink drawings by Shelton
Articles on their collaboration:
NATURE Volume 521. Issue 7550 (May 2015) Books & Arts. Apiculture: Telling the Bees. The Role of Art & Myth in the health of the hive. Article by John Burnside
NATURE: A View from the Bridge – Books and Arts blog of international science journal Nature. (May 6th, 2015). The nature of Amy Shelton’s artwork. Editor: Barbara Kiser
Books featuring work by Amy Shelton & Honeyscribe
Playing for Time: Making Art as if the World Mattered, Lucy Neal, Oberon Books (2015)
Ancient Sunlight: Stories From The Oil Age, Kaleider (2015)
Plant: Exploring the Botanical World Phaidon Press (2016)