Nucleus, 2015 beeswax hexagon tiles and parquetry tiles integrated into the walls of the Zion Schoolhouse cloakroom, size variable, beeswax beeskeps, 2” x 4”’s, and geometric solids/models

Inspired by Froebel’s philosophy of unity in nature and the gifts specifically gift # 7, parquetry tiles, I have created an immersive architecture using primarily beeswax as a building material. My past sensory architectures made reference to the work and ideologies of architects such Gaudi, Le Corbusier, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Buckminster Fuller who had spent time as children observing the social model of the beehive and it is suggested that this influenced their architectural philosophies and goals. In addition, the pedagogical philosophy of Friedrich Froebel, the father of kindergarten as an influence on modernism emerged from my research. These architects were known to have passed through such early education programmes where the emphasis and the educational toys associated laid a foundation for design, possibly shaping their views of nature, pattern and unity. I even discovered that Frank Lloyd Wright owned a set of well used parquetry tiles.

Parallel to these musings for the last eight years I have collected stories about bees and architecture. One favorite story has been the discovery of huge hives hidden in the walls of buildings and homes only to be discovered as honey dripped down the interior surfaces. These stories led me to imagine a site where the interior architectural structure was entirely created of large hexagon shaped tiles filled with parquetry patterns all made from beeswax.

My intervention in the small cloakroom at the Historic Zion Schoolhouse is an excavation site revealing an imaginary hive of parquetry tiles created from beeswax coupled with an accumulation of beeskeps (man-made beehives), and geometric models also constructed from beeswax. The materials, the compelling odour of the beeswax, the repetition of patterns all refer back to Froebel’s ideas of harmony and balance and our relationships with nature.

In 2015 a new artist collective was created titled Gifts+Occupations comprising Yael Brotman, Dr. Matthew Brower, Libby Hague and myself, Penelope Stewart. The collective was interested in conversations about creativity, modernism, and architecture and the influence of early education and the philosophy of Frederich Froebel. Through the Toronto Arts Council’s Artists Animating Toronto Museums Grant the Collective mounted the exhibition build…build better at the Zion Schoolhouse Museum.

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