Florentijn Hofman Beehold

Imposing artwork Beehold by Florentijn Hofman to enrich both Floriade and Almere

Floriade Expo 2022’s art and culture programme focuses on the emotional aspects of green innovation and healthy living, after all its theme this year is ‘Growing Green Cities’. Inspired by the latter, Florentijn Hofman has created an iconic work of art that will remain in Almere long after the Floriade is gone.

“The art and culture programme attempts to provide an enriching atmosphere for all the green innovations and allows us to zoom in on the relationship between humanity and nature. We do so with music and dance performances, classical music concerts, theatre shows, spectacular events, a beautiful art woodland, an art museum and a major work of art. We invited Florentijn Hofman to create a new, impressive work of art for Floriade that will remain in Almere after the Expo. Florentijn is currently working on a gigantic, 12-metre high sculpture with a valuable message that aligns perfectly with ‘Growing Green Cities’ and the attention to biodiversity that Floriade supports,” says Sandra van Beers, head of the art and culture programme.

Two things inspired Florentijn Hofman during his visit to Floriade: the many references to bees and meetings. Bees are threatened in the Netherlands: species are disappearing and numbers are decreasing, whilst 80% of the plants we consume depend on bees for pollination. Florentijn designed ‘Beehold’ in line with the centuries-old tradition of bee bearding as it consist of two figures entirely enveloped by bees. The work of art is made of COR-TEN steel and consists of tens of thousands of bees and a single queen.

“The artwork refers to ‘beholding’ and to ‘holding’ as humanity should save the bees for the future. The work is about the relationship between bees and humanity, about connection. It’s about equilibrium and a respectful relationship between humans and animals and our complex interrelationship with nature! Now the world is urbanising and nature has been relegated to entertainment, this exemplary function has come under pressure. This too is expressed in the sculpture: some bees have happy grins, others are sad,” explains Florentijn Hofman. “It’s about how we first see ourselves, and only then the world around us. Only if you look closely, do you see that the figures – or perhaps only their skins – consist entirely of bees. This double layer reflects our limited view of the world: even when looking at thousands of bees, we still initially recognise our own human species. To behold is about distancing oneself from the situation, zooming out to arrive at the key issues.”

Florentijn Hofman – from rubber ducky to bees

The artist is renowned for his immensely large sculptures in public spaces such as the ‘Bospoldervos’ in Rotterdam, ‘Beer de Staalman’ in Slotervaart and the ‘Feestaardvarken’ in Arnhem.  Florentijn Hofman’s international breakthrough came with the huge, fun ‘Rubber Duck’ which floated at various locations around the world. Soon Almere will be enriched with Florentijn’s ‘Beehold’.

Watch the making of Beehold here.

Ribbon of bee and butterfly-friendly plants

The arboretum constitutes the green backbone for the international horticultural exhibition and the urban district planned for the site after the Expo. This living plant and tree library, planted A-Z, contributes to a healthy, green city and provides an excellent habitat for bees where they can find food year round and build their nests. A well over 3 km ribbon of bee and butterfly-friendly plants has also been laid out. Furthermore, agroforestry, the food forest, green facades and the flowers and plants in the gardens contribute to an ideal living environment for bees.