a publication by ed•i•fy
ISSUE ONE Spring/Summer 2010
verb /â€™ed.I.faI/ past tense and past participle edified, present participle edifying, third person singular edifies [transitive] formal to improve someoneâ€™s mind or character by teaching them something
EDITORS LETTER Upon hearing about the plight of the honeybee, and its dwindling numbers, the effects this could have on the world around us, and more importantly, the causes behind these developments, I felt compelled to focus the narrative of this magazine on the honeybee’s cause. This global issue and the familiar subject of the bee, is a fine example of how ed•i•fy will broach social and moral themes in a design-based manner. In this first issue, the bee is used as a vehicle for more complex and topical issues. ed•i•fy will work for the greater good, and be devoted to a different cause each bi-annual issue, with a consistent, clear and unequivocal moral message. ed•i•fy strives to educate through design, giving equal significance to both design and hard factual reporting, allowing aspects of the other to add depth and generate interest for the topic to be deliberated in each issue; one may also help with the understanding and context of the other. The hope is that ed•i•fy will allow consumers to become better informed, and through this, take more accountability for their actions and ultimately make a difference to the environment. Our primary goal is to become the destination publication for information and inspiration about key current trends and global affairs. It is a firm belief that photography, the arts, fashion, architecture and design can be instrumental in raising awareness by capturing people’s attention and leaving a lasting message, which is what this publication aims to achieve. This issue looks at the rising trend of beekeeping, discussing the bee through comparisons with society and the way we live. With chapters such as Hive, referencing tower blocks and high rises as a modern version of society living in our very own hives; and Waggle, a chapter on the loss of communication we endure, despite technological advances. Arabella James
BEEKEEPER STILL LIFE Arabella James
INTRODUCTION On a daily basis horror stories flood our consciousness through many different mediums. Hunger, poverty, crime rates and high death tolls are consistently being reported by the media, and we are becoming desensitized by the doom and gloom of the world today. Human conflicts and selfishness continue to overshadow vital issues in nature that could escalate and could result in significant changes in our everyday contemporary lives; one of the most noteworthy being the decline of the bee. Amidst huge speculation regarding the cause behind this decline in bee numbers, the facts continue to re-iterate that sightings of the poor bee are becoming more of a rarity. The British Beekeepers’ Association, BBKA, states “Bee pollination contributes £200million annually to the agricultural economy”. With this small creature being a key part of our delicate ecosystem, it is shocking that more people are not aware of its plight. It is believed by many that Albert Einstein once said, “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!” The Soil Association considers the bee to be the ‘canary in the coal mine’, a warning system to caution when “the health of the planet is under threat”. The plight of the bee is an issue that was raised a few years ago by a handful of beekeepers in California, USA, and has been bubbling under the surface since then. As a result, several campaigns have been undertaken by cereal and honey companies, but little attention has been received from the general public, despite evidence suggesting that ultimately vast food shortages could be resulted across the globe. The British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) reported losses of nearly 20% of UK honeybees in winter 2008. This is a dramatic acceleration from the 7-10% decrease that has been the norm for the past five years. Tim Lovett, BBKA President, is demanding that the government start to take note and increase their funding of research into this worrying decline, which the BBKA are attributing to disease and the varroa mite. There is growing global concern for the decline in bee colonies, and, in turn, many theories have been established. The true origin of the decline is unproven, but there is much speculation among the industry. The buzzword from the US is ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ (CCD) relating to the apparent ‘disappearance’ of bees. It is also the phrase coined by many journalists and publications. CCD can easily be linked to the heavy use of pesticides in commercial farming across the globe, with the French Government already banning one of the offending chemicals as a result of beekeepers lobbying. Other causes such as mobile phone masts have also been suggested, without such vociferous support. Observations from Mr. Robson, shed some light on what he believes to be the main cause: Locally, beekeeping in Northumberland has gone through difficult times, mainly as a result of bad summers (high rainfall) leading to malnutrition, and the Varroa mite, which can be controlled to a degree. Colony collapse disorder does not occur in England but is prevalent in America where honeybees come under great commercial pressure. “The actual causes of CCD are difficult to determine but a lifetime’s experience tells me that bees have lost the will to live as a community.” This may be due to a number of causes. As it happens, during the winter, the prevailing weather is obviously a contributor or the last straw. Continued line breeding obviously weakens them, as it does in all animals, as does other pressures such as unsuitable transport, the presence of chemicals in the ecosystem and severe commercial pressures, as well as Varroa. To me this all seems very simple. To others who deem themselves experts it is still a mystery demanding a great deal of research. Great efforts are being made to identify a suitable cause that can be proven beyond doubt, whereas the actual cause is bad husbandry on a grand scale where all the considerations suit the beekeeper and none suits the bees. Honeybees and their hives are not machines. In the USA and other parts of the world industrial beekeeping is practiced and creates even more problems. We are perhaps fortunate in the North of England that we have never been able to take liberties with the bees because of the harsh climate and thus, we and the bees are more able to cope with adversity. Nevertheless, beekeeping is, and will continue to be, difficult. It is the ever increasing commercial pressure which is causing so much trouble with honeybees worldwide.. Mr Willy S. Robson, of Chainbridge Honey Farm, in Northumberland was born into the beekeeping profession, and has continued in his father’s footsteps for 60 years. He manages 1800 hives with his son, and is considered the Northumbrian expert giving regular talks to the local BBKA.
EDITORIAL Arabella James PHOTO & DESIGN Arabella James WITH MANY THANKS TO Shane James, Edward Garrett, Francesca Pizzolon, Fiona Trembath, Charlotte SandersYeomans, George Shepherd, Philippa Kirtley, Robert Garrett, Harriet Stewart, Rosie Sugden, Alice Bridges, Amy Grant, Nina Miljus, Jennifer Gresham, Lucy Christian & Carly Grant.
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ed•i•fy TAKES A CLOSER LOOK AT THE INTRICATE INNER WORKINGS OF BEEKEEPING, WITH GUIDANCE FROM GEORGE SHEPHERD. words and images: Arabella James
eekeeping , a centuries old profession steeped in tradition and folklore, is having a welltimed revival. In the last twelve months, the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) has seen its membership swell by 25%, and many of their beginnersâ€™ courses are heavily over subscribed. One introductory course for aspiring apiarists, in London, reportedly received almost 1,000 applications for just 60 places. Although this rise in popularity is encouraging , in order for this to have a positive effect on the British bee population, care and consideration must be taken by these amateur beekeepers. George Shepherd helps provide us with some pointers. Shepherd recommends that all novice beekeepers find a mentor for their first few years, someone with a considerable degree of experience, and who is also a successful beekeeper. Beekeeping is a difficult skill to teach, and better learnt through guidance and practice. Bees collect four things: pollen for protein, nectar for energy (as well as being turned into honey), water, and propolis used as glue within the hive. Finding a good location for your apiary is critical to the success of keeping bees. At all times of the year, bees must have an adequate supply of pollen close by. If not, your bees will wear themselves out looking for food over a great distance. It is also important a water source is near; this will prevent any complaints from your neighbours. Beehives must be sheltered from prevailing winds in both winter and summer. In the winter, beekeepers must ensure the hives are able to see the sun between 12 noon and 2pm
Fluro Jacquard Dress, LUELLA Raffia Hat, VINTAGE Smoker & Gloves, VINTAGE
Pearl & Lace Dress, VINTAGE Smoker & Gloves, AS BEFORE
without any intervening trees or bushes. This will encourage your bees to leave the hive at least once a month and also helps lift morale in the colony. Traditionally, a beginner would be given their first bees from their mentor once a new queen was available. However, with the ease of the internet, mail order bees are a very lucrative business. With the growth of the beekeeping trend, we are seeing a great influx of bees being imported into the UK from Southern Europe and even from the rest of the world. They bring with them disease and are not adapted to the harsh UK weather conditions. When these foreign bees come to the UK and are subjected to long periods of bad weather they become demoralized, finding it hard to survive and often succumb to disease. In order to endure the winter, the bees need a constant flow of honey from late August in order to rear healthy young bees that will carry the colony through to the following spring. Throughout the winter, the colony will live off the honey collected over the final summer weeks. Beekeepers should add a sugar fondant to this supply ensuring this substitute is good quality, following the saying ‘never put in a beehive what you wouldn’t put in your own mouth.’ Although there much guidance available, there is a logic and efficiency in most of the things bees do. However, the one great thing about keeping bees is that they never fail to surprise. One of the joys of keeping bees is watching them at work and observing how they react to the changing seasons. Bees become very manageable if they are approached with some consideration and respect, and work is carried out fluently. Bees can detect the slightest fear, it is simply a matter of judging their mood.
“A SWARM IN MAY IS WORTH A LOAD OF HAY, A SWARM IN JUNE IS WORTH A SILVER SPOON, A SWARM IN JULY IS NOT WORTH A FLY. ”
George Shepherd is chairman of the Leicestershire and Rutland Beekeepers Association. www.lrbka.org
ENCOURAGING THE POLLINATION OF IDEAS AT BROOKE PROIORY SCHOOL, ed•i•fy STUDIES THE IMPORTANCE OF THE HONEYBEE THROUGH NATURES VIBRANT COLOURS. words: Arabella James
Pollination is a process we are made aware of from a very young age, and is an integral element in a childâ€™s early education. Without first understanding the process it is impossible to master the more complex features of our environment. This is because pollination is an essential ingredient in a plants life cycle, and thus, our entire eco-system. The transfer of pollen from the male organ of a plant to the female reproductive organ of another, with help from insects, wind, or any other natural process, enables seeds to develop and fruits to grow. The bee plays the protagonist in this perpetual play of endless participants, and willingly shoulders much of the burden of ensuring that life continues to flourish on earth (without even knowing). As it flits between flowers whilst foraging for nectar, pollen clings to its body then transfers to the next plant it visits, which is thus fertilized. Although we are all subconsciously aware
of this routine, which is taking place around us all the time, very few of us either realize or give enough credence to its importance to our every day lives. If the number of bees were to reduce much further or were to die out all together, consequences would be immense and wide reaching. Supermarkets and the food industry would be the hardest hit by the extinction of the bee. 1 in 3 bites of food is dependant on pollination from apples and pears, to broccoli, carrots, and onions. Further down the food chain, meat-lovers would also be affects as alfalfa, the main component of cattle feed, is entirely reliant on pollination by bees. The fashion industry would also be hit hard by a decline in cotton crops, which are equally reliant on bees to pollinate. edâ€˘iâ€˘fy objectively aims to educate visually and this was put into action
at Brooke Priory School. Viewing the world from the perspective of the
pollinating honey bee there are colours and flowers a plenty. These excited the young class at Brooke Priory School, who in bold primary colours, depicted early cherry blossom, and blackberry bushes - both loved by the honeybee. They were enchanted by our English countryside and imagining the dull life without bees was received with distress and less enthusiasm. Death and destruction filled their imagery. It is not too late to reverse the decline of the bee and overt the miseries that would befall all of use if they were to die out. Through inspiration and the pollination of ideas to the younger generations, maybe our mistakes can be rectified. They are the adult consumers of the future. Children are so eager to learn, and by capturing their imagination, they are particularly susceptible to new information. Children see life in such simple terms and these pictures represent their innocent optimism for the future. By
ingraining accountability for their actions and knowledge of how the insatiable demand of previous generations has affected the way we live now, maybe change can take place. “Pester power” is well known as a marketing tactic; if children believe in a cause they will in turn influence their parents. It was clear through lessons with the two classes that the children understood far more than I expected before. Their ability to pick up and remember facts and stories was phenomenal. Maybe this is the way to move forward? To formulate a practical solution we must analyse why the number of bees is in decline. By turning nature’s reproductive cycle into a machine, the industrialisation of pollination could be the cause behind the demise of the honeybee. February each year sees half of all honeybees in the United States being trucked thousands of miles to Central Valley, California to pollinate
the ½million acres of almond trees growing there in monocultures. These valuable crops are dosed heavily in pesticides, and become the bees’ only diet for the next 21 days. Two hives are recommended per acre, and with prices at an all-time high of approximately £100 per hive this migration is the main source of income for the beekeepers. A typical working year for the bees consists of traveling to the Californian almonds, north to pollinate apples, then to Maine for the blueberries, and finally the Nebraska prairies where they will collect nectar for honey. For the bees, the stress of being transported such large distances, combined with the constant movement, keeps them awake. This in turn lowers their resistance to the many pests and diseases that could have been brought to California with all the other hives that have traveled across the continent. Modern agricultural practices are considered the bees’ worst enemy,
and we are lucky that this is not commonplace in the UK. It is clear that this constant movement highly correlates with stress, and even from an amateur’s point of view, the current decline seems inevitable. The converse effect of the decline of the bee is vividly depicted in the plight of one town in China where they have turned to mass hand pollination of their pear trees. This could be the future of agricultural farming, but with labour costs far exceeding those of the Far East it is unrealistic to think the Western world will follow suit. Is this what the future holds? Nature failing, due to our inconsiderate demands, and humans having to support the delicate infrastructure that existed and functioned before we started trying to control it.
With many thanks to Fiona Trembath and the pupils at Brooke Priory School, Rutland.
THE PERPETUAL ADVANCE OF INDUSTRY’S GREY TONES IS FORCING NATURES VIBRANT MACHINES INTO RETREAT. Realisation: Arabella James
Dress GHOST Silk Parka WHISTLES Lace-up Shoes TOPSHOP Previous: Dress TOPSHOP BOUTIQUE, Silver Top VIVIENNE WESTOOD GOLD LABEL, Belt WAREHOUSE, Eyelet Boots CHRISTOPHER KANE FOR TOPSHOP
Fashion, AS BEFORE Previous: Dress DKNY, Eyelet Boots CHRISTOPHER KANE FOR TOPSHOP
White Cropped Shirt FUTURE OZBEK Fringed Dress TOPSHOP Shorts VINTAGE Eyelet Boots AS BEFORE
Leather Shift Dress VINTAGE VERSACE COUTURE Lace Blouse TOPSHOP Suede Boots TOPSHOP
CONCRETE GREYS ARE THE SYMBOL OF INDUSTRY’S DOMINANCE OVER NATURE.
Perspex necklace, STYLISTS OWN Bandeau, VINTAGE Skirt, WHISTLES Right: AS BEFORE
LIFE IN A HIVE IS NOT ONLY RESERVED FOR THE LITTLE HONEYBEES. MUCH OF HUMAN CIVILIZATION ALSO FITS NEATLY INTO WELL-PROPORTIONED COMPARTMENTS. words & illustrations: Arabella James
seems so protected and cosy, providing safety in numbers and ease of access to any amenity, which can only be possible where so many are living at such close quarters.
Honeybees are well known for being social insects; they live in large colonies within tower block shaped hives. There are many similarities between their habitat and ours, such as the hive-like structures can be seen across the skyline of cities all over the globe. Visitors to these big cities often stand hypnotised by the sight of tower blocks at night, each square a window into a strangers room, the many people living literally on top of each other, each surrounded on all four sides by their neighbours. The bundle of tightly packed human life
Honeybees depend not only on physical contact within the colony, but also require its social companionship and support. Isolate a honeybee from her sisters and she will soon die. Recently the sense of community and sociability in society has been neglected or even discarded in many. It seems, however, that
humans are once again looking to the example of nature in an attempt to rectify these problems. High-rise living is traditionally seen as a hangover from Britainâ€™s post war past, and often unfortunately associated with an impoverish community. However, in spite of this, council-built blocks are enjoying a re-birth. A particular demographic is seeking to move into council properties, also known as Multi-Person Dwellings (MDUs). This group has a tendency to be young, childless , urban professionals with an interest in design. Property hunting for these individuals is all about one thing:
location location location
Most high-rises fit the bill perfectly, boasting fantastic views and providing the launch pad these young professionals crave, bang in the centre of the buzz of the city. Trellick Tower, in West London, is the most celebrated example of this rising trend. The distinct landmark, which has now aquired cult status, was built in 1972 by Erno Goldfinger. There is a long waiting list of people wanting to buy flats within it, many of whom are attracted by the cachet of being able to call this
London landmark ‘home’. It has been argued that living in a high rise means there is a loss of privacy due to noise from your surrounding neighbours (this can often be down to bad design). Tower blocks were built, however, with the intension of encouraging harmonious and vibrant communities, that achieve a sense of calm, with no overlooking buildings and nothing above or nearby in sight out of the window. Artists, and more specifically architects have consistently looked towards nature for inspiration, and their influence can be seen in many prominent architects work.
Le Corbusier was influenced by the cleanliness and efficiency of the boxshaped forms of the modern apiary, with the dream of collective action. Similarly, he found inspiration in the bees ability to control the temperature within their hive – a natural form of air conditioning – one hundred thousand bee wings fanning the air. The perfect hum of the bees working as one. This stimulus is represented in his reconstruction of Marseille, in France, a concrete vertical community he hoped would be motivated by “the desire to live efficiently and in harmony”.
Antoni Gaudi also studied nature’s angles and curves and incorporated them into his designs and mosaics. His most famous architectural invention was his trademark parabolic arch, who’s daunting shape is exactly the same as those made by the bees when they build a natural honeycomb, unaided by the hives imposed by men. Gaudi’s Palacio Güell in Barcelona, also features a vast honeycombed cupola with light shining through it. This symbolic hive encourages everyone to feel that they belong, like bees. The hexagon, a characteristic of the honeybee, is one of the most intriguing geometric shapes, found in both the natural and civilized worlds. The hexagonal structure of the honeycomb encloses the maximum space
with the minimum amount of wax and its merits have not gone unnoticed amongst scholars. Sydney Smirke, commenting on the flawless structure of the mathematically perfect hives, noted, the
Sydney Smirke (1853) Observations on the Architecture of the Honeybee
“Precis[ion] and truth with which the honeycomb is drawn and executed: the nice accuracy of the mitres; the exact coincidence of the angles and the perfect regularity of all the forms”. In order to continue to develop and thrive humankind must work in harmony with the natural world. One of the clearest ways in which this is being done is by learning from nature and applying what is learnt in a practical manner. Beehives (and bee “societies”) have been the subject of marvel since the ancient times and are frequently cited as evidence of divine design and a model of social order. This philosophy manifests itself in every aspect of modern civilization, such as the buildings being designed and erected that mirror those of insects. New modular building techniques, where the pods are slotted into place after being assembled in factories, are making the
construction of high-rise buildings a far more efficient process. And could possibly be the solution to Europeâ€™s overcrowded cities. This new urban planning, based on the principle of vertical construction, has adopted the term â€˜apartmentâ€™ in an attempt to avoid the stigma still attached to housing commission flats.
the Far East, where towerblocks dominate the skyline and 60% of all Hong Kong residents living in apartments. Compact pod shaped hotel rooms are, however, arriving in the UK, originating from the ultra-minimal and order driven Japan. The Yo! Hotel provides a small room containing all you need including a bathroom, and is bookable by the hour.
Although not yet a regular feature of European cities, such urban planning is commonplace in
We really are starting to live in our very own cells, just as the bees have been doing for millions of years.
THE QUEEN BEE’S INFLUENCE EFFECTS EVERY ASPECT OF ACTIVITY IN THE HIVE, JUST AS NATURE HAS AN UNSTOPPABLE IMPACT ON HUMAN LIFE. Art Direction & Photography: Arabella James Words: Arabella James
n society, it is often suggested that women do all the work around the house while men laze about and think only of procreation, food and meeting up with other males. This domestic arrangement can also be seen within the hive. The vast majority of bees that make up the colony are sterile female ‘workers’. There are a much smaller number of fertile males called drones and one fertile dominant female, the queen and the centre of the hive. The queen is the matriarchal figure in the hive, and is very busy during the spring laying almost two thousand eggs a day, helping to expand the colony. A large colony in the summer months means the abundant workers can collect plenty of nectar and pollen, which (as well as making lots of honey) will be stored and used throughout the winter. In the winter, there are no drones present and maybe only five to ten thousand workers. Once the summer arrives, a few hundred drones are created and the number of workers is increased to around 40,000. Despite the ‘Queen’ title there is no genetic “royal line”. The egg used to create a queen is the same as any other that could create a worker, however it is fed the rich and highly nutritious food, royal jelly, enabling the egg to become a sexually mature queen bee. Once the new queen emerges, she receives no respect from the colony until she returns from her first mating flight. It is common that several queens are produced at the same time, resulting in a fight for their status. As well as laying eggs, the queen controls the mood within the hive with a
MODEL: Francesca, born 1988.
combination of pheromones. Her adoring workers lick these off her body as she passes through the hive. These hormones are then passed from worker to worker in the continual transfer of nectar from mouth to mouth, giving the colony a sense of wellbeing. In some occasions when the hive becomes very full of workers, these hormones can plummet in concentration and workers will rush to create a new queen using the youngest egg they can find. A queen usually lives for two to three years, but the workers will swiftly replace her if she is underperforming. To help beekeepers the queen is routinely marked on her abdomen using the International Marking Code; a coloured dot denoting the year she is born.
A CONTENTMENT OF BEES When the weather warms a bit And evenings keep their golden light, There the bees go circling, Purposefully bend their flight â€“ Music to my ear and mood, Honeyed thoughts pervade my mind. I quietly follow through the wood And leave my human life behind. Busy concentration leads Their way to flowers, dewy sweet, Brushing pollen on their wings, Perfume on their tiny feet. With their sacs of syrup filled, So heavy they can hold no more, Straight they go and nothing spilled To enrich their golden store. There the Queen in glory reigns, Served and worshipped by her bees, Giving birth to many more Dedicated coloniesâ€™ Each creamy, new-born apian babe The tenderest nurturing receives Until they have attained their wings And join the ranks of fellow bees. Happy throng of busy folk, One in purpose, each their role Fulfils with single-minded zeal To form an undivided whole: The days for flying far afield To find the harvest for their hives, The dark when all their work is stilled, The Queen the centre of their lives.
Audrey Theodosia Bryant 14 February 2010
Each bee will fly around five hundred miles in her lifetime often carrying loaD that equate to half her body weight dying of exhaustion just three weeksafter her first flight
images: Arabella James
Bees use the sun and landmarks to navigate themselves allowing them to travel up to three miles from the hive in search of food without losing their way back home
Young bees will attempt play flights circling the hive in gradually widening circles As they get older flights will be further away and for longer periods of time
The foraging honeybee visits up to one thousand five hundred flowers in order to collect just one load of pollen
ON LEAVING THE OLD NEST,THE SWARM NORMALLY FLIES ONLY A FEW METRES AND SETTLES. SCOUT BEES LOOK FOR A SUITABLE PLACE TO START THE NEW COLONY. EVENTUALLY, ONE LOCATION WINS FAVOUR AND THE WHOLE SWARM TAKES TO THE AIR.
Art Direction & Photography: Arabella James
Yellow silk shirt, in recycled polyester, H&M Black Sequin High-Waisted Pants, TOPSHOP Black Suede Boots, TOPSHOP Model: PHILIPPA KIRTLEY
“The whole fabric of honeybee society depends on communication – an innate ability to send and receive messages, to encode and decode information.” The Honey Bee – James L. Gould (1995)
HAS SOCIETY LOST THE MEANING OF COMMUNICATION? WITH AN ABUNDANCE OF TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCED MESSAGING TOOLS, HAVE WE BECOME A SOCIETY DISILLUSIONED BY THIS EXCESS INFORMATION?
ed•i•fy QUESTIONS WHETHER WE SHOULD RETURN TO A MORE PERSONAL METHOD OF COMMUNICATION.
he medium of dance is often considered a form of expression, with regards to the little bee however, it means much more than that. This celebrated and intricate dance, called the ‘waggle dance’, conveys distances and direction and is their form of communication. First discovered by the Nobel Prize winner Karl Ritter von Frisch, bees communicate the location of nectar and pollen rich flowers first through smell, then with the vibratory ‘waggle dance’. By shaking her abdomen from side to side, she tells the other bees the flying time to the food source. The dance is so concise; it even includes the wind speed and the effect it has on the journey. In order to relay the direction they must travel, the bee gives a bearing in relation
to the sun and remarkably allows for the movement of the sun. Through communicating via the ‘waggle dance’ she will also recruit other followers and then continue on her foraging journey with them. The phenomenon of recruiting “followers” is also present in the new and all consuming communication tool Twitter, which, along with Facebook, Blackberry Messenger and other synonymous programmes, have made interaction effortless at the click of a few buttons, with followers and friends racked up like points. We are in an age where communication tools are in abundance; with nearly 80% of the world’s population owning a mobile phone, and Internet access being almost universal through the proliferation of broadband and WiFi. One would think that with all these technological aids human interaction would be at its peak. It seems, however, we are actually interacting and communicating less in the real world. Travellers arm themselves with objects of distractions in order to escape communication or connection with others around them, maintaining the ever-familiar silence on public transport. Many have ears filled with headphones and eyes firmly locked on books, the morning papers, their laptops and the ever-present mobile phone, which nowadays often incorporates all of the above. Some simply just shut their eyes in the hope that no one makes eye contact with them. Just 7% of human communication is through verbalisation and words, whilst much of the remainder is based on body language. Much of the body language on display in today’s society indicates the hesitancy to communicate in public, which is in stark comparison to the active and outgoing online personas many people maintain. Watching the current election circus under the spotlight of the Twitter
generation, passing instantaneous verdicts on the strengths of each leader and their policies, it appears that everyone has an opinion and is prepared to share it with anyone who will listen. Political parties, and every company across the globe, are using Twitter and Facebook as a means of broadcasting information to the masses. Whether the new modes of communication will produce a positive result in terms of increased levels of political engagement remains to be seen. The power of 140 characters is painfully clear not only to political giants, but also to every company worth their marketing skills. The ease of publishing these short ‘tweets’ removes any need for literary etiquette but also promotes the lack of attention to detail, thereby encouraging the many 140 character blunders that have been widely reported. We now live in a world where messages are instantaneous through the use of mobile communications, and they are compressed down to their purest form, or most diluted – if you reject the bastardisation of language to three letter abbreviations (ie. OMG, GSH , LOL etc). According to government advisor Baroness Greenfield, this presents a clear and present danger. In her esteemed opinion the instant gratification of social networks and instant messages offer a mind numbing alternative to real interaction with real people, or even traditional leisure activities such as reading the written word. Opponents of this view contest however that similar fears were voiced fifty years ago about the threat of the television turning us into zombified asocial beings. Some would argue that it has. As a society we are flooded by meaningless facts and the minutia of other peoples lives. The argument being that we are now in a state of ‘too much information’. We are now more connected in today’s globalised world, but are ironically more isolated from our friends and family as a result of the new technologies from the information age. This splurge of social media, since the turn of the millennium, has created a billion pound industry. It has also created its own language and provided new outlets to the instant gratification generation, so how in the face of this tidal wave of micro communication can the snail mail written letter be making a comeback?
to promote this). Letter writing has stopped being utilitarian and has become a luxury; with stationary removed from everyday life to the role of a refined status symbol. Letter writing is increasingly fashionable among tastemakers, with the fashion industry preferring stationary to email for thank you notes and anything else needing the personal touch. Last year, Giles Deacon’s correspondence cards for Smythson were a sell-out. It is this combination of heritage and modernity, displayed by the Deacon/ Smythson collaboration that best explains stationery’s appeal. There is also a certain romanticism to receiving a handwritten letter containing the personalised or heartfelt sentiments of another human being, which is the closest we arguably come to doing what we as humans have and always will do best - communicating. Handwriting in itself is often seen as a form of communication, as individual as a fingerprint. The handwritten missive is, therefore, of more emotional and informative value, as its communication is direct, not simply thrown into the ether. Technological advancement is an essential ingredient in the continued development of society. Electronic forms of communication, as discussed above, are integral features of the globalised world we live in today. As it has becomes easier and cheaper for us to move around the world, these advances have enabled us to remain close. The elderly still get to see their grandchildren via photos, webcam and youTube. Distant cousins can be reunited through search engines. Friends share their weddings, births and family events. The world does grow smaller with communication. Whilst embracing technology is important for our future development, it is equally important for us to not to disregard what history has taught us. Our ability to communicate has traditionally enabled humankind to propagate and thrive, however, it is not just the ability to relay information, as in a ‘tweet’, rather the ability to interact on a personal level, which is of fundamental importance. The honey bee knows the intrinsic importance of the communication from her team member, but humankind has lost the value of personal communication that can be found in the written letter.
The Royal Mail reportedly processed 135million postcards last year, 30 million more than 2005. The appeal of sending (and receiving a letter) may be the added notion of security and the personal touch. Evidence suggests that the enduring appeal of receiving a personally penned missive is still a motivator and a physical letter is generally accepted to contain more truth than its digital cousin the e-mail. An added bonus to the individual might be mitigating fears of personal communication getting into the wrong hands. It is doubtful, however, that empirical evidence alone is enough to sway the ‘trend following information’ generation to down mobile tweeting/Facebooking devices and write letters once more. There may be a certain irony in that the full force of the digital media has been put into play to reinvigorate the letter-writing trend. The might of Hollywood has also contributed to this movement, with the release of blockbusters Dear John and Letters to Juliet, both in cinemas this summer. One of the major impacts of the instant digital communication age has been to bring the lives of the rich and famous into the homes and day-to-day lives of the gossip hungry public. It is these rich and famous people whose actions and words inspire and enthrall wide swathes of the so-called information generation, and there is no more powerful supporting message than a Hollywood blockbuster to add weight to a resurgence in the appeal of letter writing, nostalgic or otherwise. Luxury brands in the letter writing business are also drivers and benefactors of the resurgence in the handwritten letter (using Facebook no less
ed•i•fy PREVIEWS THE FIRST ACCESSORIES LINE TO SUPPORT THE DEBUT ISSUE, AND THE PLIGHT OF THE HONEYBEE. INSPIRED BY THE POLLEN CARRY SACKS ON THE HONEYBEE, THESE DUFFLE BAGS ARE DESIGNED TO LAST FOR MANY SEASONS TO COME. Photography & Design: Arabella James
Made in high quality British Millerain Waxed Cotton this duffle has multiple uses, from every day to a long weekend. It has adjustable straps, so can be worn over the shoulder or as a rucksack and two convienitly placed pockets. The lining, in a tough brushed cotton, is printed with photographic imagery of a beehive returing to its inspiration.
Made to the same high standards, in British Millerain Waxed Cotton, this every day duffle is a vibrant addition to any seasonal look. With carefully considered inside pocket and extendable section, this will capture the attentions of many with the simple and subtle intention of raising awareness about the plight of the honeybee.
Charcoal Grey Super Duffle, ÂŁ90. Available to order at www.ed-i-fy.org
Yellow Zip Duffle, ÂŁ75. Available to order at www.ed-i-fy.org
THESE POSTCARDS ARE A GENTLE REMINDER OF HOW EASY IT IS TO MAKE A CHANGE.
Photography: Arabella James
An excerpt from “Ten Things to do to Help Honeybees”, issued by the British Beekeepers’ Association n May 2009. www.britishbee.org.uk
THE PLIGHT OF THE BEE. Issue One. Spring/Summer 2010. A publication by ed.i.fy.
Stare. Pry. Listen. Evesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long. Walker Evans