The Hive

Welcome to The Hive

 On the 18th of March second year Art students from the University of Northampton presented their end of year show at the Avenue Gallery, situated within the University. Second year exhibitions are always a chance to see potential, whether this manifests its self in terms of a particular way of thinking, a sharpened and considered way of working that is ultimately a prequel to a finale during the third year experience. Or, recognising a certain style that has the exact same potential to shine and deliver whilst provoking a sense of enquiry along with an understanding of historical contextualisation and realisation of development into the future.

This event was no means disappointing  with a very noteworthy exhibit/performance from an incredibly well matched collaborative pair of students that were working under the heading of ‘The Hive‘ . The Hive Is the brainchild of Ally Johnson and on this occasion was in collaboration with Billy Hawes who challenges the notion of the canvas in a melodic rhythmic way.

Ally has created a concept that relies on much of the fluxes movement with scores given out either by hand or ultimately if one wishes to participate, a score would be collected from a purposeful location. On one of my initial talks with Ally I found out that the Hive is representational of a working beehive with worker bees having a particular role to play within the structure of a beehive. Ally sees all participants as the worker bees thus bringing back results, reactions and responses back to the point of sauce – The Hive. The collaborative nature of the event worked well in so far that two individual practices came together in a way that brought about conversation, questions, performances, and actual making of work in a fun and exciting way.

Billy provided weaving material wound on threading hooks for guests to ‘have a go’ and add to his woven frame. This was a chance to learn how intricate this process is, withstanding the opinion how one should never underestimate a person’s technique and thought processes.



In addition to the weaving the Hive provided envelopes with hand typed instructions such as ‘Hum on the spot’ or ‘Go to the Gavin Turk talk’.  These instructions brought about a charged atmosphere along with trepidation from guests who were initially lightly apprehensive of their pending requirement to ‘perform’. Pretty soon there was laughing and sharing along with a very interesting result with the weaving. As this was open to interpretation from the participants it may be said what happened as a result was unexpected and as much of a challenge to the artist as it was for the participants. Billy’s weavers made sure that the piece itself became very much entwined with the fabric of the space. The warp took on the form of a large structured spiders web, it developed a life force of its own as guests looped pipes, wound around blinds dressing areas of the gallery that possibly were never considered.

The combination of people performing their tasks, weavers expanding into unimagined areas and poetry being read  aloud was indeed a multi-sensory success. It is clear to see the potential and future development that this concept has. Year two has certainly offered both Ally and Billy the opportunity to develop their thoughts and practices in an interesting and thought provoking way. It is always refreshingly exciting when faced with something that is not expected, to see people engaging with the unknown and being non passive spectators but participants that are open minded and embrace all aspects of art and art making.

Congratulations to The Hive with Billy Hawes.




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