Creative Constellations – Pale Blue Dot Collective

For Creative Constellations we asked a number of artists from our past, present and future programmes to share their thoughts on what it is like to work with Fermynwoods Contemporary Art. We’re sharing these conversations to celebrate these relationships, to inform future working practices and to demystify the experience for other artists.

Existing as a project funded organisation often necessitates new relationships and as an artist led organisation we can be excited by new themes and new lines of enquiry. However, we recognise the value of our deep roots and have established a rhythmical and intentional process of developing ongoing relationships with artists to work in new capacities across multiple programmes, nurturing practices in a mutually beneficent manner whilst growing the Fermynwoods family.

The next in our series sees insight from Pale Blue Dot Collective.

Floating in Space, Pale Blue Dot Collective, 2021

Can you provide a brief overview of your artistic practice?

Pale Blue Dot Collective are Louise Beer and John Hooper. We explore the cosmic significance of life on Earth. Framing the impact of the climate emergency through the eyes of evolution and the immense time period it has taken for each form of life to arrive at this point, we create a space for discussion around the damage we are collectively participating in and its universal impact. We use installation, film, photography and sound in our collaborative and independent practices.

What were your impressions of Fermynwoods Contemporary Art before working with us?

We thought Fermynwoods was a really clever and interesting organisation that commissioned artworks that explore our relationship to the environment, whilst being original and accessible. We thought it was a gallery in a forest but were happily surprised to find out that it changes location.

How did you first become involved with Fermynwoods?

We applied for two commissions unsuccessfully but then Fermynwoods Director James Steventon reached out to us, which we were very happy about!

How did Fermynwoods support you in the first instance?

Fermynwoods gave us an amazing opportunity to develop a commission that was open and flexible in an incredible 13th century church, as part of their Love + Light programme.

During the research and development phase of this commission we undertook a short residency in Fermyn Woods itself, which included delivering a series of workshops with students excluded from mainstream education.

Of Immeasurable Consequence, Pale Blue Dot Collective, 2024

How has Fermynwoods contributed to your artistic growth and development since then?

It was wonderful to have the opportunity to work on our collaborative ideas with a budget, and see what we could do at scale, resulting in our Of Immeasurable Consequence installation at All Saints Church in Aldwincle.

It was definitely challenging to work on a big scale but in a good way, and we feel that our practice has reached another level because of the commission. We have more confidence in our abilities.

We also loved working with the children and seeing into their worlds, and integrating it into our perspective of the environment.

Were there any specific skills or knowledge that you gained through working with the organisation?

We gained experience of working in a workshop setting inside a school and also in very small groups with students from The CE Academy. We also got to make the biggest scale installation we have ever made – which was such an amazing opportunity that will help us immensely in the future.

Workshop with Aldwincle Trinity C of E Primary School, 2024

How else have you worked with Fermynwoods since the original commission?

Alongside our original commission we also worked with students from Grange Academy in Bedfordshire to explore young people’s thoughts on the environment and climate change, with the aim of creating a site-specific sound sculpture for permanent installation in the school’s sensory garden.

Students undertook a variety of slow looking and listening activities over the workshop days including drawing, collage, photography and working with a variety of microphones and sound equipment to listen to nature and the sounds of the school site – including their wonderful array of animals.

We also developed a special version of Of Immeasurable Consequence for the Fermynwoods Podcast.

What advice would you give to other artists considering working with Fermynwoods?

Do it! We absolutely loved Fermynwoods’ commitment to the environment and to the work.

How would you like to work with Fermynwoods in future?

Residencies, commissions, workshops, collaborations. Anything!