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The Bee Kingdom Archive
- Visual Arts
Dr. Ahmed Zaky Abushady (1892-1955) was an influential Egyptian scientist, beekeeper, and poet. He was also my maternal grandfather. For the past two years I have been gathering and sorting the many documents that Abushady left behind. Taken together, these documents chart my grandfather's innovative beekeeping practices in early 20th century Egypt and England, as well as his development as a poet and thinker.
I am asking for your support so I can begin to organize this collection of historically valuable and visually compelling material into a searchable archive: The Bee Kingdom Archive.
The Bee Kingdom Archive will include decades of correspondence between Abushady, his famly and his peers, diagrams and patents for beekeeping inventions, manuscripts, poetry, ephemera, Abushady's own scientific and literary publications, and books from his personal library. And because Abushady was drawn to new gadgets and inventions like the handheld Kodak camera, it will contain a large number of photographs and 'snaps' of his activities in the laboratory and in the apiary, many of which he shot himself.
Much of this material has never been published or shared before. It has been preserved for generations by various family members who strove to keep the family legacy intact through wars, displacements, and deaths.
It is my ultimate goal to find funding to digitize The Bee Kingdom Archive and make it accessible to historians, researchers, and artists. But first I must secure and organize the physical archive.
Abushady was born into a literary family and was writing and publishing his poems by the age of 10. As a young man, he attended medical school in Cairo, and in 1912 he was sent to England to study at the University of London, where he graduated with degrees in medicine and bacteriology. He became interested in bees and bee diseases, and soon established himself as an important innovator in bee husbandry.
In 1919, together with his new English wife, Abushady established an apicultural institute and experiment station called The Apis Club in the village of Benson, near Oxford. There he launched and edited England's first international bee science journal, Bee World, which continues publication to this day.
Abushady was committed to improving bee husbandry. He made strides through experimental breeding, organizing classes and conferences, and by fostering skill-sharing among local beekeepers. Abushady made his own beehive improvements, and held a number of patents for his inventions, such as the removable aluminum honeycomb. All told, these initiatives contributed to the development of the 'bee economy' in both England and Egypt.
In 1922, Abushady returned to Egypt with his wife to raise a family.
In Egypt, Abushady is remembered as the poet and publisher who helped launch the Modern Arabic poetry movement. He did this through the journal Apollo, which he edited and published in Cairo in the 1930s.Apollo became a lightening-rod and platform for young Egyptian poets with new ideas, as well as for poets writing in Arabic who hailed from beyond Egypt's borders. My grandfather gave these poets encouragement, visibility, and a place in the critical discourse.
As a scientist and Romantic poet of Victorian sensibilities, Abushady felt there was a deep connection between bees and the 'universal language' of poetry. He observed and wrote about the bee's seemingly magical capacity to network and overcome obstacles through cooperation. All his life, he strove to make this ethos manifest.
I hope to make The Bee Kingdom Archive accessible to scholars and researchers, artists, poets and beekeepers. The first step is to secure all these fragile materials and house them 'archivally'.
For this, I need your help.
With your assistance, I will be able to purchase necessary archival storage materials such as acid-free archival flip-top boxes and acid-free archival file folders to hold the letters, ephemera and manuscripts that now lie in manila envelopes and cardboard boxes. I will be able to purchase mylar sleeves and glassine envelopes to house the photographs.
Archival housing will ensure the stability and longevity of the many delicate and fragile items that comprise The Bee Kingdom Archive.
IN RETURN: LIMITED EDITION PRINTS
To thank you for your help, I am offering signed, original, limited edition prints (lithographs, editions of 25 / 11x14 inches each) for donations of $250 (or more) made through Hatchfund.
The prints are based on images that are drawn from The Bee Kingdom Archive itself:
Print #1: Abushady's Complete Specification (c.1919), technical drawing for removable honeycomb patent. View image
Print #2: Caricature of Abushady by Fridon (c.1928), by the Alexandrian Persian artist Mohamed Fridon. View image
The Bee Kingdom Limited Edition Prints will be produced with New York artist and printmaker Shannon Broder.
These editions are limited (25 prints per edition); first come, first served. Each print is valued at $900. They are only available at this reduced price through Hatchfund.
Any additional funds that I raise through Hatchfund will go to the next stage of this project: to begin scan and digitize the entire archive.
Thank you very much for your support!
The Bee Kingdom http://thebeekingdom.com
Artist and writer Joy Garnett's work has long revolved around the archive as subject and medium. She will continue to develop The Bee Kingdom Archive as an open access, virtual museum for her post-doctoral work at Winchester School of Art at the University of Southampton (UK), in a program that emphasizes interdisciplinary research across the arts. She is also working on a book about her grandfather, Ahmed Zaky Abushady. In an August 2013 interview, she answered a few questions about Abushady, his work, and her book project:
AZ Abushady: Revolutionary Egyptian Poet, Feminist, Beekeeper, and More, Interview with Joy Garnett, by M. Lynx Qualey, for Arabic Literature (in English) blog, August 26, 2013
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