Pollinator Pathmaker at LAS Art Foundation

Pollinator Pathmaker

LAS Art Foundation, Berlin

20 June 2023

A living artwork, Pollinator Pathmaker serves the natural world, rather than taking it as subject matter; asking humans to experience gardens from the viewpoint of at-risk pollinators to help in their protection.

Each garden is based on planting schemes created by an algorithmic tool developed by the artist. The tool selects from Palettes that contain locally appropriate plants chosen for their benefits to pollinators. Drawing on the expertise of specialists (in this case from the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, every Plant Palette is uniquely optimised for the needs of its region’s pollinators. Pollinator Pathmaker’s first Edition Garden opened in May 2022 at the Eden Project in Cornwall, United Kingdom.

Digital painting of Rudbeckia fulgida var deamii, selected for the Continental Europe Plant Palette.

Pollinator Pathmaker responds to the dramatic decline in pollinating insects. This collapse has been precipitated by habitat loss, pesticides, invasive species and climate change. While the plight of honeybees is widely publicised, over 550 bee species exist in Germany alone. Working alongside flies, beetles, wasps, moths and butterflies, bees pollinate our food crops, ecosystems, and gardens. Each insect perceives the world differently, a fact that produces extraordinary diversity in plant life. For example, different insects can see different parts of the colour spectrum, invisible to humans. Flowers have alluring markings on them that we can’t see. One flower may attract bees, while its neighbour may attract butterflies.

An ornate tailed digger wasp (Cerceris sp.) on a yarrow (Achillea millefolium) spotted during an excursion in Berlin. Photo: Frederic Griesbaum © Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.

Pollinator Pathmaker’s website offers a free-to-use tool for everyone to create their own pollinator-friendly artwork to plant at home, and in community spaces and schools with completion of a short application form. Visitors to pollinator.art can use the custom algorithm to generate their own unique planting scheme for bees and other pollinators. Each scheme is computed to support the maximum pollinator species possible. Users can see a 3D visualisation of their garden, created from paintings by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg.

‘I wanted to make art for pollinators, not about them. Pollinator Pathmaker is an ambitious art-led campaign to make living artworks for other species to enjoy. Can the audience for an artwork be more-than-human? Can art be useful in the ecological crisis?’
Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg