I’m a ceramic artist with an infestation problem. I have a swarm of 10,000 beetles, butterflies, dragonflies, and the odd more curious specimen, to be exact. Luckily they are made of clay, and I created this swarm with a team of assistants in 2011 for my first solo show at Nottingham Castle in 2012. The entire swarm took a year to make, and every single beetle was hand made and glazed.

The first infestation in Nottingham was visually very striking. Although the installation was static, with insects mounted on walls and floors, I strived to create a sense of movement within the swarm. I created darting bursts of insects that trumpeted upwards, along side thronging, crawling pockets of beetles in corners and niches. I particularly liked creating the swirling vortexes of bugs that swarmed across the larger walls. The overall ambience was of a delicate composition; partly of delight and bewilderment, but also a little gothic and unsettling. I wanted the visitor to feel as if they had stumbled into the setting of a fairy tale of old. The installation took 5 days with 6 helpers armed with ladders and glue guns.

My inspiration came from a daydream I had in the Entomology room at Wollaton Hall. While there the flickering light made the insects look as if they were slowly waking up. I became completely bewitched by the idea of a museum collection that arose from their slumber, smashed out of their time capsules and took flight. I went on to recreate this story with clay. Within the swarm there are many magical specimens. Stagbeetleflies, for example, are stag beetles fused with butterflies. There is a majestic Queen of the swarm too, a five headed-golden-multi winged insect distilled directly from my imagination.

Since the first ‘infestation’ the swarm has been on tour ever since and has travelled all over the world infesting unsuspecting venues and delighting visitors.

More info: annacollettehunt.com

Stirring the swarm, Nottingham castle, 2012

Image credits: Chris Webb

Swarming, darting, thronging

Image credits: Chris Webb

New swarm insects for Liberty, 2015

Insects smashing out of their entomology cabinet

Image credits: Chris Webb

Swarming, devouring the staircase

Image credits: Chris Webb

Swirling vortex of doom (my favourite)

Image credits: Chris Webb

Floating and swirling trails of insects

Image credits: Chris Webb

New insects, 2016

Image credits: Jonny Howe

Infestation at anthropologie, London, 2015

Image credits: Lydia Evans