Swarmf*** is a swarf cast of a giant bee’s wing. Like a fossil from the carboniferous age when flora and fauna were huge thanks to the higher oxygen content in the air.
What are the ramifications/consequences of a bee losing her wing? A dismemberment of one of the most industrious of creatures. Obviously she could not fly – but more than this – she would not be able to do the Waggle Dance. She would be unable to tell her sisters how far they should fly to find the most bountiful source of nectar. This could mean that the hive itself could perish.
Swarmf*** is one of a series of artworks created by sculptor Anthony Bennett and Sheffield’s last jobbing grinder, Brian Alcock, to celebrate a centuries-old skill at the heart of Sheffield’s ancient and modern industry and mark the imminent threat of its disappearance. The skill, taken so much for granted as it was handed down from generation to generation that it was barely recognised as a skill at all, is to put a cutting edge on steel for whatever (bespoke) purpose is required. Brian has nobody to pass this skill on to.
The sculpture is made from swarf, the ultra fine grindings produced by the friction of metal on stone. Anthony had previously made a mould for a model of a giant bee which can be seen in Weston Park Museum. He put this mould in front of Brian’s grindstone, and allowed it to fill up with swarf as Brian worked (at Beehive Works, incidentally). It took about three months to fill up, then it was dried, then demoulded to reveal the swarf cast.