Jessica Albarn draws the bug world into focus

In A Corner © Jessica AlbarnIs that the sound of your skin crawling? Some artwork, however elegant, has the power to make your hair stand on end.

In Jessica Albarn’s case, it’s the primal fear of spiders, bees and other iggly wrigglies that jump from the page to race up your spine. And yet, the beauty of her drawings cannot be denied.

“I began drawing as very small child like all children, but didn’t stop!” Jessica says. “ I did a Fine Art degree with the view to doing an MA. The MA didn’t happen as I had my first child at 24. So from there on in I took my own route into the Arts. I’m an artist because it makes me happy and luckily, it’s what I am best at.”

BEE 2 © Jessica AlbarnI encountered Jessica at the Natural History Museum’s open garden day, when she was showing off her fine sketches of bees, and a mildly macabre collection of dead bees. Startled, I had to admit I have a similar hoard – some summers dead bees glimmer like jewels along the footpaths. It’s an odd thing to bond over, but there you are.

I was unsurprised to discover that Jessica draws inspiration both from nature and human nature – two of my own driving forces.

I asked Jessica what started her off on her series of bee drawings. “I found a dead bee and it seemed to be reaching for something trying to hold onto life,” she says. “It’s delicate dead form touched me and I began drawing it. I then also became increasingly aware of the decline in not only honey bees but also bumble bees and have used my work to raise awareness ever since.”

It’s a brilliant aim, and one neatly exemplified by the work below, titled ‘All Fly – 60 species of bee.’

All Fly - 60 species of bee © Jessica Albarn

Jessica explains that she’s fascinated by creepy crawlies’ in all varieties and forms: “in drawing out their beauty I feel I hold onto in some way the life that is lost,” she says, then adds: “apart from the spiders which I prefer to draw live! I’m interested in how human beings relate to the natural world on an ecological, emotional and symbolic level. Deep in our subconscious, memories lurk that affects our responses.” That explains the hair-raising sensation experienced when a spider runs across your foot – and I don’t even consider myself afraid of the wee beasties!

“Insects are very alien creatures to us, yet our very survival depends on the balance they bring to our world,” Jessica continues.

One of my favourites is Jessica’s hybrid drawing: Butterfly Ball, which reveals the artist’s passion for fairytales.

Butterfly Ball © Jessica Albarn

Butterfly Ball © Jessica Albarn

“I imagine faeries to be shape-shifters masquerading as insects in our world – moving amongst us unnoticed,” says Jessica. “I also wanted to play on the idea in children’s minds that that bug they were about to squash just might be a faerie!”

That’s definitely a good way to preserve insects from unwarranted harm!

Find more of Jessica’s work and details of upcoming exhibitions at

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