Friends of the Lake District has welcomed astronomy inspired artist Louise Beer to the Lake District on a week-long residency as part of its Cumbria Dark Skies campaign.

Image: Louise Beer with her work 'Infancy', a ‘light drawing’ created by moving the camera across a very large static light installation.

Louise uses immersive art installations of film, photography and sound to explore the incomprehensibility and fascination of the cosmos. The Lake District has some of the darkest skies in the UK and Friends of the Lake District’s campaign aims to gather support for ‘Dark Skies Reserve’ status for Cumbria, to help protect this darkness.

Louise grew up in New Zealand and spent time in the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Park – one of the darkest places on earth where millions of stars are visible to the naked eye.

Louise says: “Seeing the Milky Way as a child inspires my art practice. As well as being a reminder of the scale of the Universe and the fragility of planet Earth, it also is a reminder of our history. The stars have enabled celestial navigation and inspired images, poems and prose for thousands of years. They guided us at night and have influenced the behaviour of animals for millennia.
“Seeing the Milky Way also reinforces that we live on a finite planet. If there is other life in the Universe, it won’t be exactly like that on Earth – so when a species goes extinct, it is devastating on a universal scale, not just globally.

“Through this residency I hope to both reinforce in my home country of New Zealand, how precious the dark skies there are, and help encourage the Lake District and Cumbria to make visible some of these astrological wonders which are currently hidden from view because of light pollution.”

Johanna Korndorfer, Dark Skies Project Officer at Friends of the Lake District says: “Around 85% of the UK population has never seen the Milky Way because of light pollution. Artists and arts practices have a way of exploring subjects that can touch us in unexpected ways. Louise’s work investigates how losing our connection to the stars has implications for the way we treat and relate to our planet earth. If people have memories of seeing the Milky Way, perhaps for the first time, they can share them with Louise via her website"

Louise is one of five artists selected to participate in the residency ‘The Light of Things: Making sense of here’, facilitated by local artists Harriet and Rob Fraser as part of their project ‘Sense of Here’. The residency gives the artists the opportunity to experience the Lake District landscapes with guidance and mentoring, and to meet the curators at the Wordsworth Trust and Grizedale Forest. The project has been supported by the Great Place: Lakes and Dales programme. The work produced by the artists will be shared online in December 2019 and included in an exhibition at the Wordsworth Museum in the autumn of 2020.

Dark Skies Reserve status is an internationally recognised designation awarded by the International Dark Skies Association. It aims to encourage communities, parks and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting polices and public education.

Somewhere-nowhere celebrates the value of walking journeys and slow time outdoors, and has grown from a collaborative practice of photography and writing. somewhere-nowhere uses exploration, discovery and creativity to build connections between people and nature. The creation of Harriet and Rob Fraser, its aims are:

• to highlight the beauty of nature and the benefits of being in natural environments
• to spend time in natural environments and inspire others to do so
• to engage in debate about sustaining sensitive environments and cultures
• to encourage participation in actively caring for this planet.

The Light of Things: Making Sense of Here artist residencies are part of somewhere-nowhere’s ‘Sense of Here’ project. It is giving five artists a chance to experience the Lake District landscape with new perspectives, to share insights and methods, to learn from curators and other artists, to receive mentoring, and to kindle new collaborations. This residency is part of a range of programmes supported by the Great Place: Lakes and Dales programme which has been set up to provide opportunities for creative / career development in the local region.

Sense of Here website: