Get our FREE quarterly e-zine Seek Inspire Create
Search
Close this search box.
April 12, 2024 —

Love What You Do: Agnes Becker

Artist and scientist Agnes Becker brings together like-minded folk to share awe and appreciation for the natural world in all its wild, intricate and messy beauty, bringing our deep connection to the universe firmly into focus
The studio set up of Agnes Becker We Are Stardust, art inspired by nature and science
A walk in the bluebell woods artwork by We Are Stardust, art inspired by nature and science
Sine Fleet - contributingeditor of 91 Magazine
Sine Fleet
91 Magazine contributing editor,

Photography

Siobhan Watts
Photographer,
Save & share
Hi Agnes, how would you describe We Are Stardust?

We Are Stardust is a place where art and science collide to enrich your experience of and relationship with our messy, beautiful universe. I do this by creating artwork with the land that inspires connection with the more-than-human world and experiences that encourage you to rewild your soul. I want people to feel the rapture of being alive on this incredible earth.

LWYD We Are Stardust 91 Magazine 12

What inspired the idea of setting up your business?
I wanted to find an outlet that brought together my love of nature, art and science. I started We Are Stardust as a greetings card shop in 2016 and as I immersed myself in the natural world around me and lived through personal and social events, I began to change, and We Are Stardust evolved with me.

Now I focus on two strands in my business; creating artwork with the land that inspires connection with the more-than-human world – I sell original pieces in ‘collections’ and reproduction prints of those works, and also nature connection experiences that encourage you to rewild your soul. I have a membership, run in-person workshops and retreats, and a year-long flagship programme called Rewild Your Soul.

I love that I can create a hybrid business as a multi-passionate person filled with all the things I adore. I also appreciate being challenged by the wonderful folk I have surrounded myself with online. Their influence is making me think more about how We Are Stardust can contribute to a more loving and just world for all humans and beyond-human beings. Perhaps it’s enough for me to help people start noticing the devastatingly beautiful world around them?

How did your career begin and evolve?
It has been a meandering, messy and layered journey so far. I’ve always loved learning and never fitted into the ‘art’ or ‘science’ divide we are fed at school. I studied both subjects up to age 18, when I had to choose one or the other to study at university. After much wrangling, I chose to study natural sciences and then science communication, but I never stopped drawing and painting. After my Masters I worked at London’s Science Museum and on science TV programmes, eventually falling into science communication roles at universities where I worked closely with research scientists to communicate their work to non-scientists, such as members of the public and ministers of health.

“But it always felt like there was a piece of me missing. I was rubbish at having a desk job – far too fidgety – and I longed to feel the mud between my toes, the wind in my hair, the sun on my face and to be surrounded by trees rather than open plan office space.”

I have a very strong memory of being stuck in a basement meeting room watching three hours of presentations whilst having a vision of being in a forest holding logs in my arms, the scent of woodsmoke swirling around me and pine trees towering above – it was my call of the wild, for sure.

That’s when We Are Stardust appeared, first as a greetings card shop. I went down to 4.5 days a week and then 4 days a week in my day job to spend time working on We Are Stardust. Eventually I took the plunge and became a freelance science communication specialist while also building up We Are Stardust. Eight years later, I now work mostly on We Are Stardust, with a few science communication freelance clients to help me financially.

I also want to mention privilege here as I have the support of my parents who helped us buy our home, and my husband who works full-time, allowing me to pursue this line of work. If I were a single parent, I don’t think I’d be able to do what I do. My hope is that as I use my privilege to create this career it will open up paths for others in the future.

LWYD We Are Stardust 91 Magazine 14

LWYD We Are Stardust 91 Magazine 4

Where do you find creative inspiration?
Outside in biodiverse spaces and when playing with materials – mud is my favourite at the moment! Seeing and reading the work of other artists and poets often sparks imagination and ideas too.

How would you describe your style?
Organic, delicate, traces of fragments, layers, sensuous, observed, experienced, reverent, joyful, movement, liquid. The qualities in my next art collection all about rivers and roots are: watery flow, seeping, staining, sediment, delicacy of roots, traces of leaves, layers, the sensuousness of swimming and movement, the sensuousness of touching bark.

LWYD We Are Stardust 91 Magazine 15

Are there themes or influences that run through your work?
Our connection to land and each other, our interweaving with this messy, beautiful universe. I am constantly drawn to fluidity and movement and connection – how do I bring that quality to a static drawing or painting? At the moment, I am exploring the dendritic pattern of roots, rivers, nerves, blood vessels.

I am also beginning to explore how my artwork can help contribute to creating a more loving and just world. Can my art help to provoke questions about how we are living with the earth and one another? Can my work inspire new ways of thinking and being with each other and the beyond-human?

Tell us about your work and creative process…
I am still working on this as my creative process has changed hugely from the time I made greetings cards in 2016 to today, where I am making art with the river! At the moment, I aim to do as much work outside as possible in tender observation of, experience of, and in collaboration with the world around me.

In my current work exploring rivers I started by experiencing the river through swimming and spending time there, as well as reading around the idea of rivers in culture, and exploring the work of other artists looking at similar themes. I then began creating sketches where I only looked at the river and not at the page, or making detailed drawings of roots on the riverbank. Then I began to explore how I can create with the river by using river water and mud to paint with. I am now working with an art mentor who is helping me to make some decisions on which explorations and ideas to run with for my upcoming art collection, tentatively titled “Rivers and Roots”. LWYD We Are Stardust 91 Magazine 10

LWYD We Are Stardust 91 Magazine 8

What is the ethos behind your business?
I’m inspired by the following quote from bell hooks: “Love is an action, never simply a feeling. Giving generously in romantic relationships, and in all other bonds, means recognising when the other person needs our attention.”

At its core, We Are Stardust is about love. Love as an action, rather than purely a feeling. To love the earth and the beings with which we share this planet begins with paying loving attention, just as it does with getting to know a friend.

I am working on an ‘AWE map to rewilding your soul’ that encapsulates the process I use of re-rooting ourselves back into landscapes and ecosystems that we perceive to have been separated from. The actions in this process are an expression of love for the earth and all living beings, including fellow humans. With A being attention through love and noticing, W – wonder through creativity and curiosity, and E – entwine through story, community and sharing. My artwork is part of this process, of feeling the rapture of what it means to be alive on our earth at this time.

Is there an element of your work that you love the most?
I love being outside, asking lots of questions about the universe on my doorstep and allowing what I discover to inspire ideas and artwork, then sharing it with folk who ‘get it’. I also love being able to try things and see what happens when I make in collaboration with nature – rather than painting a picture of nature – such as painting with mud, seed heads, natural inks. I’m really enjoying this new direction of my work.

LWYD We Are Stardust 91 Magazine 3

“My online community has allowed me to pursue a creative career that my parents and grandparents could only have dreamed of.”

LWYD We Are Stardust 91 Magazine 1

How valuable is the online community to your work?
Invaluable. I owe everything I have created in We Are Stardust to my online community. As much as I dislike excessive screen-time and the pressuring noise that is social media, I have met some incredible people through the internet, this web of connections that brings folk who love the earth together and with whom I can directly share my artwork. My online community has allowed me to pursue a creative career that my parents and grandparents could only have dreamed of.

Working as an independent – what are the joys, and what are the challenges?
For all the challenges (hello self-doubt, loneliness and wobbly income), I really do love it. I love the flexibility, the fact I am my own boss and that I can be there for my daughter when she needs me to be. I get such joy from experiencing the more-than-human world more deeply through my nature connection work and my artwork, and to be able to share and learn with fellow humans who love the earth. Unlike the windowless basements of my previous full-time employment jobs, the work I am doing now feels right to me and my soul.

After the last few years when my mental health plummeted and I struggled (hopefully past tense!) with insomnia, I am getting better at taking care of myself and prioritising rest, time outside, moving my body, and time with friends. It’s still a work in progress though!

LWYD We Are Stardust 91 Magazine 6

LWYD We Are Stardust 91 Magazine 9

What’s one thing people would be surprised you do in your work?
Painting with mud, sticks, flowers and seed heads on the riverbank – I’ve had some curious glances but most people are quite intrigued and interested when you get chatting. And regular dance breaks!

Do you have any creative pastimes or hobbies?
Knitting, reading, dancing, playing the violin and creating a beautiful home.

LWYD We Are Stardust 91 Magazine 11

LWYD We Are Stardust 91 Magazine 3

What does the next year hold for you?
I am about to release my second original art collection in May 2024, working title “Rivers and Roots”, inspired by the rivers that have flowed through my life – the Great Ouse, Thames, Wear – and the rivers that flow inside us – nerves, blood vessels.

My membership – The Stardust Collective, for busy, tired folk seeking more immersive and enchanting time with nature – is fairly new still and I am looking forward to building it up to be a rich, creative and nourishing place.

And in Autumn I am excited to be releasing places to join Rewild Your Soul, my year-long experience for quietly courageous folk to gather, slow down, and sink into the deep remembering that we are part of this messy, beautiful universe. I always go through Rewild Your Soul alongside fellow adventurers who join. It is an ever-evolving, organic experience that is very dear to my heart.

QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS

Books I love:  Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Underland by Robert Macfarlane, All About Love by bell hooks, and I really want to read Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Marie Brown and The Madonna Secret by Sophie Strand. Also a myriad of romance novels when I need to switch off!

Creative heroes: So many! Here are a few inspiring me at the moment – Anselm Kiefer, Ian Kiaer, Kiki Smith, Ana Mendieta, Michelle Stewart and Hannah Fletcher.

Shops I love:I live in a small village with two food shops so I don’t really do much shopping. When I do shop, I usually try to buy second-hand and go to charity shops or use Vinted. However, I do love to treat myself every now and again and when I do, these are some of my favourites: Essence + Alchemy for candles, TOAST (via Vinted) for clothes, Bound By Hand for nature journals, Ffern for perfume, Liberty for haberdashery, Our Lovely Goods and Nkuku for homeware.

Inspirational places: Any ancient forest (and particularly the pine forests of Germany – I am half German), Northumbrian Coast, Dartmoor, Yorkshire Dales and Yosemite National Park (I went once in my teenage years and it left a deep impression).

Instagrammers I love: Sophie Strand (@cosmogyny) for incredible ecology/life writing, Sophie Macklin (@sophieamacklin) for ancestral connection to land in the UK, and For The Wild (@for.the.wild) for beautiful, thought provoking podcasts and quotes.

Sign up for more articles

Join the 91 Magazine mailing list and we’ll send you our favourite articles, updates from our shop, news on the magazine and select promotions & offers.

More stories like this one

Gina Maldonado in her Hong Kong studio with her colourful, nature-inspired paintings and prints
Artist and illustrator Gina Maldonado’s passion for flora and fauna is distilled into her joyful work, which captures the vibrant exuberance of…

New in 91 Magazine

artist Sarah Adams in her Padstow home
Artist Sarah Adams settled in Padstow 18 years ago, creating a light-filled space that functions as her home, studio and gallery space…

Shopkeeper Spotlight: Lifestory

91 is reading… Botanical Block Printing

Volume 17 has published!

Home tour: Marion Larpent

Recipe: Chocolate Dipped Bananas

Shopkeeper Spotlight: & halt

15 inspiring co-working spots for creatives in London

Substack: where creativity meets connection

Home tour: Rachel Ashfield

Seek Create Inspire

Subscribe to the 91 Magazine mailing list

Subscribe for our free quarterly e-zine packed independent shops and cafes, interiors ideas, delicious recipes and DIY projects.

We’ll also send you regular articles, offers, shop promotions and competitions (but never spam).