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  • Writer's picturewyldeoakeartistry

Walking with mushrooms

Wow when did this happen? I finished my MA in Fine Art after 2 years of part time on-line study with an amazing and supportive cohort of people. We have been lucky as we started as just 10 and finish with 7 and hence have been able to get to know each other and our work within diverse topics of study whilst struggling through academic terminology that at the outset befuddled us and at the end used without thinking twice! The MA started out as planning on extending the textile work of my undergraduate degree but, as we were told to expect, our end resolutions are as far removed from our initial aims as it could be possible to be. For me personally, I have had a love hate relationship with collage and my soft pastel skills were of kindergarten level but through a long and often tough series of testing, experimentation and investigation with a hefty dose of perseverance or often just sheer out and out stubbornness something began to emerge - and that something is the reset of our artistic practice.

Walking with mushrooms could even be our practice name as it describes an intimate and often humorous connection with the fungal kingdom that I have become so deeply fascinated by. It also describes the fungal companion species concept (Tsing, 2019) in combination with Haraway's speculative Chthulucene epoch (Haraway, 2016) that underpins almost all of my work. However, I am also proposing a new Mycocene speculative future - one in which the human arrogance of the Anthropocene is removed enabling us to re-consider our perspective the very organism that gave us life and will also outlive us. In the contemporary world it is too easy to overlook fungi or simply to consider them in terms of edibility, psychoactive qualities or what they can do for us to solve the problem we create - and without question fungi hold the answers to many of our polluting and environmental issues. However, - are not just 'ours' to do as our species wishes as they are the life-force that sustains our planet creating symbiotic relationships from the desert to the icecaps to the tropical rain forests. We need to see them not as a separate species within a separate natural environment, but instead we need to re-connect with nature as our ancestors once did and in doing so re-connect with fungi.

The MA studies have taken me to places beyond even my comprehension in many ways and it is difficult to describe the complexities of the research undertaken whether theoretically or visually but it has synthesized to create a refined and developed narrative that we can take forward within our practice. Moreover it has also introduced me to the artistic movement of Disrupted Realism in which I primarily seek to situate my work as it speaks of the disrupted and distracted nature of contemporary life in which artists seek to deviate from the norms of realism. This movement also aptly describes my own neurodiversity and its disrupted nature which is the reason for my singular focus on fungi and why we find such peace within the natural environment - living in an urban environment is sensorially overwhelming and the simple act of observing a fruiting body (mushroom) can instill calmness through distraction. Furthermore, I find myself embracing my neurodiversity, acknowledging it here publicly, having gained the confidence through my MA study but also as it is creating the focus of potential practice-centric part time PhD study ..... yep I am not quite ready to give up academia as I feel that it is not yet completed .... time to watch this space!

For now however, please head over to my MA Fine Art Graduation page and enjoy the work exhibited there .....

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