Rooted in the aesthetics and practices of painting, photography, landscape and astronomy, Pauline Woolley’s work for re:rural turns images taken with a homemade pinhole camera into a new moving-image work tracing the daily movements of the sky from Woolley’s garden over a period of twelve months during which her father passed away.
Born in Cheshire, Pauline Woolley is an artist based in the East Midlands whose practice deals with her relationship to sky, time, place and astronomy often in an urban setting.
Recent exhibitions/projects include ‘Writing Skyscapes’, UK and Ireland, ‘Time, Dilated” Brighton Photo Fringe, Tate Exchange and Gallery Zero residency, Nottingham Contemporary with Outsider Artist Collective.
The Sky Calls to Me
For years I have witnessed the stars, lunar eclipses, partial eclipses and the changes of the seasons in the garden of my childhood and the garden of my adult home.
I have for a long time questioned our perception of the sky in terms of where we are. Does the physicality of a location create a different experience of viewing the sky? Does an urban sky have any less emotional value and connection to that of a countryside sky?
These images were made in both my childhood and adult garden during the last months of my Father’s life and then during the months after. Long exposure pinhole images sit with digital photos and techniques. Both methods are able to catch and make visible the sometimes invisible to the human eye.
My sky watching became a solace and revealed an awareness of deep time in our fleeting presence on this planet. These deep observations can help all of us gain a perspective on the inevitability of endings under a sky we share wherever we stand, either in the past or present.
Beyond the Celestial Sphere follows the reflected image of the sky as the sun travels beyond our visual celestial sphere. Influenced and planned using free open source planetarium software, Stellarium, the imagery also references the historical astronomical art of the past. Using a combination of newly created visual and sound recordings made during lockdown, the static imagery takes on movement that pushes us beyond the sky of an urban Nottingham garden into the realms of the unknown and beyond what we can see and understand. Tristan Gooley writes in ‘The Natural Explorer: Understanding your Landscape;
‘The sky accounts for half of the world we see, but it is in the places where the sky and earth mix that many find the greatest drama, intrigue and beauty. When the line that separates sky and land, the horizon, is broken it draws our eyes like a magnet. The rays of a rising sun breaking out above a distant hill in perfect radial will be uplifting to the most downtrodden souls’.