STATEMENT - Mýkis
Occasionally, one stumbles into wonder….
A proliferation of mushrooms emerged around my Okanagan studio in 2018. I was struck by mycophilia – a love and wonder of mushrooms.
Just as mushroom mycorrhizae connect and nurture many species through the rhizospheres of forest ecosystems, the Mýkis series symbiotically connects many threads of my art. My practice and studies have taken place in many parts of the world and have addressed numerous themes. However, like far-reaching networks of mycelium, my practices and inspirations are intimately connected and mutually supportive.
Mycelia are the great collaborators of the forest floor: they interconnect surrounding plant species to communicate and share nutrients. Given the remarkable finding that mushrooms are humanity’s closest cellular relatives, it becomes understandable that mushrooms and humans should also be drawn to collaborative expression. Collaboration – including inter-species collaboration – is vital to the wellbeing of humanity and the Earth. We have much to learn from mushrooms as they detoxify soil, slowly and patiently shift concrete and stone, serve as medicine to our bodies and provide nutrients to plants and animals.
Few of the world’s mushroom species are known to science and their vast possibilities for artistic inspiration are uncharted. The works that make up Mýkis offer a meditation on the humble beauty, power and potential for inter-relationship that surrounds us.
Victoria Arts Council
I have chosen these mushroom spore prints as vivid illustrations of the theme of relationality. A mushroom may appear as a single thing, but it is the most inter-connected of living forms, as it can only survive within a vast support network, a mitochondrial web
This web of nutrient relationships feeds the trees and maintains our forests. It wasn’t easy to choose the one image that would convey the wonders of this kingdom. And kingdom is the correct terms for these remarkable entities. There are hundreds of varieties for us to yet discover, we only recognize a small fraction of what’s growing world-wide. It is truly remarkable to learn that Mushrooms are our closest cellular relative, not another species of mammals as we might expect. This accounts for their range of remarkable curative properties. Historically we learn of cultures that created profound relationships with mushrooms that emphasized their seeming magical healing capacity
One only needs to begin closely observing mushrooms in their habitat, for fascination to take hold. I stumbled in to wonder three years ago, while on an artist residency. While painting a series of circle forms, a perfect mushroom circle, a ‘fairy ring’ grew outside my studio. Numerous spore prints followed. Laying a cap, gill side down overnight, to allow spore to be released, is standard practice for any mycologist wanting to identify a stranger. I began foraging and printing consistently through our local ‘fruiting season’. This year is the longest(warmest) to date. It is January and they are still appearing. Other than walnut ink or earth pigments as background for the paler spores I use no other colour than what the fungi emit.
Initially I gave each cap its own space on the page (after making sure the background colour of the paper provided an adequate contrast to the spore). This year I’ve foraged new spore colours to combine and overlay. It seems within their lifespan they are most ready to release spore with abundance in their youth, as well as before and during middle age. This so closely relates to human reproductive rhythms.
What continues to be most striking is finding a group of one variety, almost identical in colour, related in shape and size, but nevertheless they will all print quite differently. The image I have chosen ‘Untitled #19’, is a clear example of this, 33 mushrooms, found close together, appearing as similar, yet expressing themselves in such distinctive ways. I am compelled to continue, to record each mushroom, to witness each print, being unique. Also, the Covid virus has made it clear we do not live as single, separate, unrelated beings. As mushrooms we also live deeply immersed in a web of completely related microscopic connections.