During the 2020 lockdown, English photographer Sadie Catt spent time with a beekeeper, getting to know the life of these intriguing insects. Resulting from this experience, Catt has produced a new body of work titled ‘Beekeeper’, drawing connections between the dynamics of the bees’ society and our own patriarchal one.
“Bees can be violent and unpredictable. A keeper must live with the understanding that they could get stung, but for them, it is worth it in order to harvest sweet honey,” she explains. Having spent time with her partner’s father, who is a beekeeper, Catt learned about the co-dependent relationship between keeper and hive, and the way that bees can become violent if they feel threatened. With this, the photographer found parallels in many aspects of the world at large; including concepts like power structures, masculinity, and vulnerability, and experiences like fear and assault. The work, therefore, explores an ongoing reestablishment of the artist’s relationship with men; not as individuals but as a more ambiguous notion. “Beekeeper is an authentic depiction of staggered recovery,” she says. “It considers the confused correlation between this and an understanding of [my] own feelings of vulnerability as a woman.”
With predominantly black and white images, Catt presents a portrait of life that is both ominous and heartening; a place where grace and healing can occur within the unfair experiences of life. “Beekeeper was made in an attempt to reflect upon fear, threat, and trust in a manner which is safe and accessible. This work consolidated the continuation of life, new experience, and growth.”