Fungal Art

It’s easy to find mushrooms growing in the damp rotting vegetation of autumn. These fungi, now recognised as their own separate Kingdom of organisms separate from bugs, plants and animals, are an important food as well as an essential part of children’s literature. They are also the subject of a new kind of art, willow sculpture. One of the leading experts at this is Tom Hare, whose exhibition of sculptures is in the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. His work

Mushroom sculptures by Tom Hare  tumblr_ms1kvnLvLr1s7hh60o5_1280

has attracted the interest of at least one famous person. Another woman interested in mushroom art was children’s writer Beatrix Potter,

beatrix-cover   IA25-18-Potter

among whose most favourite characters is Peter Rabbit. Potter spent a lot of time describing and drawing mushrooms and toadstools as botanical specimens.

th       Peter_Rabbit_article_detail

Fortum and Mason’s, the grocer in Piccadilly had models of mushrooms in their window display for Christmas 2010, models based on some of Potter’s illustrations. Across the road at the Linnean Society the entrance hall and staircase were decorated with the same models until safety regulations caused them to be taken away.

7 FORTNUM AND MASON TOADSTOOLS  6 FORTNUM AND MASON PERFUMES

The Higher Fungi include mushrooms, puffballs, stinkhorns, bracket fungi and others with special spores. These cells become filamentous, made up of hyphae (except for yeasts) and they reproduce sexually by transferring DNA through clamp connections on the cell walls. A new classification includes Basidiomycota and Ascomycota in a group now known as Dikarya.

One of the first botanists to describe these fungi was Ernst Haeckel in his 1904 Kunstformen der Nature, now a valuable example of fungal art – 250px-Haeckel_Basimycetes

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