"Every one of us is a memorial to long-dead stars. Every one of us was quite literally made in heaven.”
– Marcus Chown, The Magic Furnace
I'm Agnes Becker, an artist, science communicator and creator of We Are Stardust - a place where art and science collide to enrich your experience of and relationship with our messy, beautiful universe.
Based in Bedfordshire, UK, I work from a little office-studio in my home filled with sketches and books and sticks and pine cones and plants.
I hold a BSc Hons in Natural Sciences from Durham University and a MSc (Distinction) in Science Media Production from Imperial College London.
It began in the wild depths of my mother’s garden. Gathering seeds and stones and petals to create potions. Soaking myself in summer rain. Embracing the mud; mud pies, mud puddles, mud in fingernails. Watching the veins of leaves in sunlight. Lying still to see dust motes dance in sunbeams and spiders in seed heads. Magical maps of imagined worlds. Thoughts of distant planets. Adventures on river boats. Stories of forgotten forest gatherings whipped up in the wind. And books. And sketches. And creations. And drawings. Always drawings. The world was rich, layered and full of mystery and beauty and mess and stories and creativity. And I was part of it all. I belonged.
Then there was school. And uni. And work. Societal expectations. Perfectionism. If I just worked hard the right way and if people liked me, I’d be a success and then I’d be free, wouldn’t I? I didn’t fit in really – at university I had to choose between art or science. I chose science but never stopped drawing. I tried working in TV, museums, academia…in each place I felt confused, not myself, jealous of what others had. Eventually I fell into an academic office job working with wonderful people and slowly pushing my wild soul further and further into the dark underground river of my subconscious.
In that dark place the river became a stream. It bubbled away, winding round blocks and rocks and dams and at times bursting into my consciousness. I’d notice its gentle invitation to come and play now and again. I remember an assertiveness course taken in the heart of London where I was asked “What do you want more of?”. My answer was “mud”. Curious, I thought. I remember a three hour meeting in a basement room where, fidgeting in my seat and deprived of natural light, I had a physical vision of being in a damp forest, collecting firewood. I want to be there, I thought. I remember hours sitting at my desk, typing just a bit more to prove I was worth employment, and longing to lie in the sunshine drifting through the window. I need to escape, I thought. This was the call of the wild soul.
Despite the endless dams and blocks and pollution, the stream gathered pace and pushed from its depths an idea - We Are Stardust was born. I didn’t know it then but the stream would slowly swell into a river, constantly moving and change me. Over time We Are Stardust became a place to explore what it means to be alive – fully alive – on this earth. Exploring through creativity, mess, mud, leaves, fungi, charcoal, ink, water. Exploring through story, loving attention, curiosity, wonder. Exploring what it means to be part of this messy, beautiful universe. What it means to be in a loving relationship with the inner wild and the wild of the more-than-human world.
I feel I am re-entering my mother’s garden and the garden of my mother and her mother – I am re-entering the garden of Mother Earth. And as I do, I am returning to my wild soul. That place where the world around me opens up, where I am both everywhere and nowhere, where I belong just as I am. I call this the World of We Are Stardust. And I’d love to invite you in.
THE WORLD OF WE ARE STARDUST
I’d like to invite you to the world of we are stardust.
It is a strange, dark, beautiful, twilight world where owls hoot in their nests, lobsters clack their claws under the weight of the deep ocean, stars flicker full of the promise of other worlds, hearts beat and nourish our bodies, plants share their wisdom and the moon guides our journey home. It is an exultant place where we celebrate the universe and all it contains through love, attention, stillness, wonder, creativity, discovery and curiosity. It is a place where we - all of us - belong. Where we can be creative, analytical, rational and intuitive all at once.
It is a place we have known all our lives, is always there below the surface and yet is difficult to find through the glare of screens and noise of daily life. We may see it in the raindrop jewels on a spiders web or just before the moon disappears behind an ink-black cloud. We feel it when we dig our hands into the rich earth and sense the millennia of evolution that came before us right back to the atoms blasted into being through stellar explosions that make up you, me, the trees, rocks. we are stardust.
Together, let us create for ourselves a rich, layered, nourishing life living in tune with our own nature and the nature of the more-than-human world.