Amy Coney’s Bee Live in MCR has been signed by A-listers including The Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and the Gallagher brothers, but she laughs when she remembers her design didn’t actually get picked by any of sponsors initially.
“When I sent in my application I got shortlisted, but then on the sponsor day no one actually picked it.
“So I got the rejection letter. You normally get used to rejection in this field but this was one thing that I actually really, really wanted to do and I felt quite deflated afterwards.”
Two weeks later she got a call from from Bee in the City saying SJM Concerts, one of the UK’s largest concert promoters and voted ‘Promoter of The Year” several times at the Music Week Awards, had seen her bee, really liked it and want to sponsor it.
Ed Sheeran was the first to sign the bee following his recent visit to Manchester. He also added a cheeky message and a bee doodle to the base of the sculpture. He was shortly followed by rock legends The Rolling Stones, with frontman Mick Jagger putting his golden signature on the bee’s eye.
Take That lead Gary Barlow signed the bee following his show at Manchester Apollo and the Courteeners left their mark on it too.
The concept behind her famous bee is inspired by another sketch she used in a card range she designed not long ago.
“I did this card that said something like “You are my 24 hour party person” and it was actually the same silhouette that I decided to paint over the bee because I thought it would look cool.
“It obviously has references to the 24 hour party people at the Hacienda and it honours Manchester’s history, basically,” says Amy. “Plus I really like music,” she adds.
Amy thinks the bee trail is a brilliant way of engaging with the local community as well as offering families a creative option for a day out with the kids.
“I suppose you can go to museums and stuff but there isn’t actually a lot you can do outside and this is a really nice interactive way to get kids and adults alike involved and excited – and it’s just adding colour to the city as well.”
Although she has been painting for as long as she can remember, Amy admits she never thought she would actually make a career out of it. She studied Fine Arts at university but jokes about it, saying she just chose something she thought she could do for four years ‘without going mad.’
“Back then it used to just be an earner on the side. I never thought I’d go full-time. Last March I decided to take the leap and go full time freelance which I’m really glad I did because the amount of opportunities and experiences that I’ve come away with have just been phenomenal,” says Amy.
There’s a ‘really nice sense of community’ surrounding Manchester’s art scene at the moment, she adds: “We all kind of help each other out and I’m very happy to be a part of it.”
Constantly doing ‘bits and bobs’, Amy was working on a new garden mural for an office building when she broke off to chat to me.
“They’ve got this little space they’re turning into a garden enclosure,” she explains. “I’m also painting a door for an antique shop and then on Thursday I’m doing some work with an interior design company in Bury who are trying to support young artists. I’m getting involved with anything I can really. The more murals the better.”
It’s the variety of her work that keeps Amy excited and motivated. And what gives her the most satisfaction is that she gets to do things that make people happy.
Amy’s bee can be found on the corner of Liverpool Road and Lower Byrom Street.