Fungi

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The blog has been quite text-heavy in the last few days, so here’s an image-based post for a bit of balance.

A couple of weeks ago I planted some coriander seeds that I’d harvested from the plant in my window box. The plan was to have some growing inside over the winter but I don’t think it’s working since all I seem to be getting is a fine crop of admittedly inspirational mushrooms!

The compost was obviously shot through with mycelium. These come up in little clumps of two or three mushrooms and they only last a day or two at most before they crumple into nothingness.

Kirsty Hall, photograph of 3 tiny translucent fungi
Kirsty Hall: Fungi, Sept 08

In these two shots, you can see how tiny and translucent they are. I was sure this would disintegrate as soon as I picked it up but although it was fragile, it was stronger than it looked and I was able to delicately hold it while I photographed it.

Kirsty Hall, photograph of tiny translucent fungi on palm of hand
Kirsty Hall: Fungi, Sept 08

Kirsty Hall, photograph of tiny translucent fungi on palm of hand
Kirsty Hall: Fungi, Sept 08

Looking at these I was reminded of the incredible mushroom drawings by Chris Drury.

Here is his description of how he makes them:

If you cut off the stem of a mushroom and place it on a piece of paper overnight, covered with a bowl, it will drop its spores onto the paper in the pattern of the gills. The spore print here is digitally scanned and printed in three versions and altered by changing the contrast in Photoshop. The prints are glued and ironed onto the canvas which is built up in layers of gesso to form a surface for writing.
This radiating pattern of spore lines draws you in as a mandala would, but if you take a magnifying glass and follow one line from the centre out to the periphery then you will notice that each line branches and branches again like the limb of a tree. In making these densely written works this is in fact what I do: I follow the principle of the line that branches, only in densely hand-written words, in inks of different tones, with reed pens of different thickness, gathered from the banks of the river (everything flows here) and which have to be constantly sharpened and dried. The written words are repeated and hypnotic, like a mantra. The words cease to have meaning, the concentration is on the sound. A word that has a good sound is easy to write. It flows on to the canvas. The concentration is on the sound, the shape, the size, the colour, the tone, the branches. The words are the mantra that shape the mandala.


Chris Drury: Destroying Angel – Trinity

Chris Drury, Destroying Angel, mushroom spore print and drawing
Chris Drury: Destroying Angel – Trinity
White printed spore prints and radiating lines of text in white ink and pencil on black prepared canvas. Text reads: ‘Amanita virosa- Destroying angel’

Needless to say, I adore the obsessiveness and repetitiveness of this process! Imagine doing all that writing, and these aren’t small pieces – each canvas is 187cm square. I wonder if he ever makes spelling mistakes? If I was writing something over and over like that, I know I would start losing all sense of the words and I would start getting them wrong. It reminds me of the sort of obsessive use of writing that you sometimes see in Outsider Art.

I’ve been a fan of Drury’s work since I saw his ‘Medicine Wheel’ piece in Leeds City Art Gallery. That piece – a circular collection of natural objects collected daily for a year – was a definite influence on my Diary Project.

Chris Drury, medicine wheel, circular sculpture of natural objects collected over a year
Chris Drury: Medicine Wheel

Unusually for a well-known artist, Drury not only has his own web site but he even writes a blog. A recent exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art also has an associated blog by the gallery staff and they even have sets on Flickr.

I’m quite delighted by this. I constantly meet artists who don’t have any web presence and don’t grasp why this is a problem: I often end up doing five minute impromptu versions of my articles about how artists can use the web. Many famous artists don’t even seem to have their own dedicated sites. Seriously, what’s up with that? Surely they can afford to pay someone to do it. Hell, if I can do it, surely Damien Hirst can manage it! What’s the matter, Damien, did someone pinch ‘damienhirst.org’ out from under you? I can only assume that they think it’s unimportant or perhaps it’s seen as a bit too democratic or something – I don’t know why it happens but I find it very odd.

So it’s fantastic to see an established artist and a big institution using blogging and the net to directly engage with their audience and I hope other mainstream members of the art world will eventually follow suit. I know lots of galleries have websites but I often get the sense that they don’t quite ‘get’ the web; I think many of them still think in terms of the old models of top-down publishing. Hmm, something else to research and think about…

I am an artist & purveyor of obsessive projects based in Hebden Bridge, England. My work involves the accretion of large numbers of small objects - pins in fabric, knots in string or hundreds of envelopes - to make sculptures that deal with fragility, loss, repetition, obsession and time.

18 thoughts on “Fungi

  1. Beautiful, beautiful photos of the myceluim.

    And I’ve been thinking about the subject of artists on the web ever since you mentioned it after our interview. Someday, perhaps we need to get back on the phones and record something about that.

    [Reply]

  2. Beautiful, beautiful photos of the myceluim.

    And I’ve been thinking about the subject of artists on the web ever since you mentioned it after our interview. Someday, perhaps we need to get back on the phones and record something about that.

    [Reply]

  3. @Jadielady

    Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed them. They’ve vanished altogether now but more may come up in a day or two. I ought to photograph the pot, it’s kind of scary with little fluffy tufts of mould right now.

    [Reply]

  4. @Jadielady

    Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed them. They’ve vanished altogether now but more may come up in a day or two. I ought to photograph the pot, it’s kind of scary with little fluffy tufts of mould right now.

    [Reply]

  5. Hi Sister Diane, thanks for the comment about the mushrooms. I look at the pot every day and some days it’s a scary looking mess and other days it’s filled with these elegant little creations.

    Doing something about artists on the web would be great, I’d be more than happy to do another interview with you.

    [Reply]

  6. Hi Sister Diane, thanks for the comment about the mushrooms. I look at the pot every day and some days it’s a scary looking mess and other days it’s filled with these elegant little creations.

    Doing something about artists on the web would be great, I’d be more than happy to do another interview with you.

    [Reply]

  7. Hi Kirsty,
    Lovely idea and pictures of fungi. I also liked the Chris Drury pieces you showed. I wrote my thesis on his work, and a couple of other artists, entitled Art from the Land.The main other artist I wrote about was Robert Janz, he also also uses allot of text. Back then Chris Drury posted me a book of his, times have changed! So it was great to hear from that he has a website and blog. Thank you for your creative and informative blogs.
    Marianne

    [Reply]

  8. Hi Kirsty,
    Lovely idea and pictures of fungi. I also liked the Chris Drury pieces you showed. I wrote my thesis on his work, and a couple of other artists, entitled Art from the Land.The main other artist I wrote about was Robert Janz, he also also uses allot of text. Back then Chris Drury posted me a book of his, times have changed! So it was great to hear from that he has a website and blog. Thank you for your creative and informative blogs.
    Marianne

    [Reply]

  9. Hi Kirsty,

    (I say Hi Kirsty everyday. My daughter-in-law, Kirsty (originally from the UK) drops off her son Ollie every morning before leaving to work.)

    Thank you for your visit to It Strikes.

    If you ever want 1,000 pictures or more of corn (and soy) you’ll know where to visit.

    My brother, an artist (painter), gradually moved toward the web over the years. He still doesn’t utilize it the way he could. Too many projects in his head – so little time, he says. If someone promoted his work for him, for free, I think he’d then see the benefits.

    I’d do it for him but I have too many projects as well.

    Cheers,

    Gord H.

    [Reply]

  10. Hi Kirsty,

    (I say Hi Kirsty everyday. My daughter-in-law, Kirsty (originally from the UK) drops off her son Ollie every morning before leaving to work.)

    Thank you for your visit to It Strikes.

    If you ever want 1,000 pictures or more of corn (and soy) you’ll know where to visit.

    My brother, an artist (painter), gradually moved toward the web over the years. He still doesn’t utilize it the way he could. Too many projects in his head – so little time, he says. If someone promoted his work for him, for free, I think he’d then see the benefits.

    I’d do it for him but I have too many projects as well.

    Cheers,

    Gord H.

    [Reply]

  11. Fungal reproduction is complex, reflecting the differences in lifestyles and genetic makeup within this kingdom of organisms. It is estimated that a third of all fungi reproduce by different modes of propagation; for example, reproduction may occur in two well-differentiated stages within the life cycle of a species, the teleomorph and the anamorph. Environmental conditions trigger genetically determined developmental states that lead to the creation of specialized structures for sexual or asexual reproduction. These structures aid reproduction by efficiently dispersing spores or spore-containing propagules.
    Asexual reproduction

    Asexual reproduction via vegetative spores (conidia) or through mycelial fragmentation is common; it maintains clonal populations adapted to a specific niche, and allows more rapid dispersal than sexual reproduction. The “Fungi imperfecti” (fungi lacking the perfect or sexual stage) or Deuteromycota comprise all the species which lack an observable sexual cycle.
    Sexual reproduction

    Sexual reproduction with meiosis exists in all fungal phyla (with the exception of the Glomeromycota). It differs in many aspects from sexual reproduction in animals or plants. Differences also exist between fungal groups and can be used to discriminate species by morphological differences in sexual structures and reproductive strategies. Mating experiments between fungal isolates may identify species on the basis of biological species concepts. The major fungal groupings have initially been delineated based on the morphology of their sexual structures and spores; for example, the spore-containing structures, asci and basidia, can be used in the identification of ascomycetes and basidiomycetes, respectively. Some species may allow mating only between individuals of opposite mating type, while others can mate and sexually reproduce with any other individual or itself. Species of the former mating system are called heterothallic, and of the latter homothallic.

    [Reply]

  12. Fungal reproduction is complex, reflecting the differences in lifestyles and genetic makeup within this kingdom of organisms. It is estimated that a third of all fungi reproduce by different modes of propagation; for example, reproduction may occur in two well-differentiated stages within the life cycle of a species, the teleomorph and the anamorph. Environmental conditions trigger genetically determined developmental states that lead to the creation of specialized structures for sexual or asexual reproduction. These structures aid reproduction by efficiently dispersing spores or spore-containing propagules.
    Asexual reproduction

    Asexual reproduction via vegetative spores (conidia) or through mycelial fragmentation is common; it maintains clonal populations adapted to a specific niche, and allows more rapid dispersal than sexual reproduction. The “Fungi imperfecti” (fungi lacking the perfect or sexual stage) or Deuteromycota comprise all the species which lack an observable sexual cycle.
    Sexual reproduction

    Sexual reproduction with meiosis exists in all fungal phyla (with the exception of the Glomeromycota). It differs in many aspects from sexual reproduction in animals or plants. Differences also exist between fungal groups and can be used to discriminate species by morphological differences in sexual structures and reproductive strategies. Mating experiments between fungal isolates may identify species on the basis of biological species concepts. The major fungal groupings have initially been delineated based on the morphology of their sexual structures and spores; for example, the spore-containing structures, asci and basidia, can be used in the identification of ascomycetes and basidiomycetes, respectively. Some species may allow mating only between individuals of opposite mating type, while others can mate and sexually reproduce with any other individual or itself. Species of the former mating system are called heterothallic, and of the latter homothallic.

    [Reply]

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