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Burgess Hill Green Circle Public Art Trail

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'Bee-Mason - A Life in Pictures' Artist: Alan Potter Unglazed porcelain mosaic and steel

Commemorating the life of John Charles Bee-Mason MBE, Filmmaker, Explorer and Naturalist (lived 1875-1957), sculpture situated at Hammonds Ridge Meadows

A pioneer of early natural history film-making, John Charles Bee-Mason made two short films: “The Bee’s Eviction” (1909), which shows an unprotected Bee-Mason relocating swarms of bees and “The Life of the Honey Bee” (1911) which illustrates the inner workings of a hive in previously unseen detail. These films are now held by the British Film Institute and can be viewed in libraries.

After his success with his beekeeping films, he appears to have become a war photographer during the 1914-18 conflict, travelling in France, Belgium and Russia. He was a member of several scientific expeditions as a cinematographer including Shackleton's final voyage south to the Antarctic on the Quest in 1921/2 and the Oxford University Arctic Expedition in 1924. In 1925/6 he was the official cinematographer on the Algarsson-Worsley British Arctic Expedition and he produced the film Under Sail in the Frozen North. In 1927 he joined Bolivian diplomat Mamerto Urriolagoitia and Julian Duguid, author of the book Green Hell, in an expedition across the lowland jungles of Bolivia.

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During the 1940's, Bee-Mason made a name for himself advocating the curative powers of honey, and famously devised a cure for rheumatism, which involved the sufferer enduring a bee-sting in the arm. Such was his association with apiarism that at some point in his life he changed his surname officially to Bee-Mason.

Bee-Mason retired to Burgess Hill where he became involved in local politics and became embroiled in a bitter battle over the allocation of council houses and the sale of ARP equipment. The rows became so angry the police were called to a meeting to evict him and he ended up in Brixton Prison where he died in hospital in 1957.

Artist's Statement
My preferred design approach, when creating a piece of public art, is an examination, through a contemporary prism, of the traditions, culture, history and future use of the location. I regard history as important. I believe it moulds our identity, giving reality and substance to our communities through a shared past. It is the glue that binds us together, and gives us our benchmarks in our relationships. Every city, town and village has its own unique history, which in turn gives it its particular character. Through my artwork I seek to discover that uniqueness and bring it to life in a modern way and, whenever possible, to try and involve the community in the design process. My hope is that their participation will raise their awareness of a shared identity and perhaps make some interesting discoveries along the way. The majority of my commissions have been for community organisations, local authorities, schools, universities and hospitals, most of them involving the active participation of users and residents of all ages and abilities. I regard each site as unique, each demanding an individual solution. I enjoy working in a broad variety of media, selecting the most appropriate techniques and materials for the project in hand. This results in work being carried out in a wide variety of media such as metal, mosaic, bronze, stone, wood, ceramic, painting, gateways, railings, paving and lighting.

Alan Potter
Alan Potter is an artist based in Scotland, near Glasgow, specialising in creating art for public spaces. Clients include local government, community groups, schools, colleges and hospitals throughout the UK. He has long-standing interests in history, politics and the environment which in turn heavily influence his creative efforts. alanpotterartist.wordpress.com

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