Louis Masai, Saltoun Road
This intriguing depiction of a bee has an important message at its heart. The bee population has been in mysterious and sudden decline since the late 1990s, which is a problem because because bees don’t just make honey, they pollinate crops and are key to food production. The threat to the bees is also therefore a problem for us humans. I spoke to the artist Louis Masai, who is also the man behind the giant rhino in the Duke of Edinburgh’s beer garden
MM: Does your work usually have an environmental focus? What was the spark for this one?
LM: For the last year I’ve been painting endangered animals. I felt like there needed to be a bit more of a message behind what I was doing.
It came from a trip I made to South Africa, where I was part of a campaign to save the rhino. After working on that and doing smaller bits with bees, I thought it would be cool to do a bigger campaign.
MM: How is the campaign going generally?
LM: It’s going really well. It’s nice seeing people give a shit. Sometimes I feel like they don’t. I hope people actually are engaging, rather than just jumping on a bandwagon or because they just want to take a photo of it.
I hope it makes people think about the reason why bees are disappearing – it’s not just because of pesticides, it’s also because we don’t provide nature a home. That’s not just with bees, it’s with everything.
I’m not saying that that art can solve the problem, all I’m saying is that I’m an artist and art can raise a point. I’ve got Friends of the Earth involved, and they give out information on how to be more aware. I’m not an activist, I’m an artist.
LM: The biggest chance to make an impact was with bees. We’re very selfish as a race, and if you tell people they’re going to die as a result of bees becoming extinct, they suddenly give a s**t.