Bees Swarm City Walls
Louis Masai has long used art to illustrate the beauty of threatened wildlife. He intertwines human elements into his work to draw in questions and awareness. As he says, “my subject matter focuses on animals but always strives to find a human reference to juxtapose an element that might not be previously obvious.” When Masai learned of the implication of colony collapse disorder, he launched his Save the Bees mural project.
Art has always served an important role during times of transformation. What do you hope your murals communicate to the community?
Louis Masai: I hope that they encourage people to think about that environment and the role that we have as humans. I hope that people conclude that, perhaps, if we all take a little more care and consideration, the lives of others could be a lot easier. Above all else, I enjoy leaving something that the community can feel happy to walk past.
How has the overall response been from your Save the Bees Project? Do you notice different types of conversations arising from your work?
Louis Masai: The project has been overwhelming. It has encouraged people from all corners of the world to contact and discuss environmental matters with me. Overall, the response has been very positive. And, as a result, I shall be painting more murals in Canada, Italy, and Australia. I think that a lot of people have noticed the impact of the way I transmit the message through [street] art in public spaces and have been enlightened. It’s a fresh new approach to what is probably considered a bit boring [and repetitive] to the general public [with regards] to most conservationists and activist concerns. Not that I am either of those things — I’m still just an artist. But I can grab a whole [group] and get them thinking in new ways that others failed to do. Art is very powerful and when it stops being confined to a white cube on a well todo street, it reaches a whole new world of eyes.
What are some of your favorite ways to consciously observe, respect, and/or support the bee populations?
The crazy thing is that, although I’ve always been a keen gardener and conscious mind, it’s only via the Save the Bees Project that I have become as aware as I am now [of the bees]. I recently moved [to a new] home and studio, and in doing so, knew that I would need a garden. The place we found has one and it’s huge, which is a blessing in London. I’ve been slowly plowing my way through it and making it work in an eco friendly way. I have started planting vegetables and lots and lots of wild flowers. I will keep one part wild for the pollinators. I’ve put that plot very close to my vegetable patch. I’m hoping me and the bees can help each other in this way. I have also planted some blossoming trees. I’m excited to see it all come together. Everything is still very young as you might expect, but already we have lots of bees sucking on buttercups and cherry blossoms. Eventually, I’ll set up a hive too! But first, we must have abundant food for the little ones…