The Art of Fungi

Last September I took some talented artists to some beautiful woods and tried to inspire them with fungi. I find fungi fascinating and inspirational – and they can take some weird and wonderful forms.

Click to watch a short video about the artist foray and exhibition

The day of the foray started for me with an interesting breakfast of fly agaric. This is not something I do regularly, them being both hallucinogenic and dangerously toxic, but  with careful preparation they are delicious, with no side effects. And besides, if I got it wrong, I would be hanging out in the woods with some groovy artists. Win win.

The trick is to blanche out all the water-soluble chemicals (ibutonic acid and muscimol are the active ingredients) to leave delicious, tasty mushroom and toxic amber liquid that looks quite like a pint of Arran Blonde Ale from the bottom of the barrel. I don’t treat this process lightly and nor should you, but if you do want to give it a go this article tells you all you need to know, and makes fascinating reading even if you don’t.

After prepping my mile-high-wild-pie with some of the previous day’s chanterelle haul, it was off to meet the artists. It was a typical Galloway summer day of low cloud and steady rain – perfect for an afternoon in the woods (see how I can’t lose?). I fortified the intrepid painters with a dram of sloe gin (last of my stash) before we set off into a gorgeous bit of old beech and birch woodland on the outskirts of the forest park.

 This was a unique forage for me, in that the focus was not entirely on what was or was not edible, and I think the artists got really into fungi for its weird beauty and mysterious nature as much as anything else. For my part, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to bang on about all kinds of fungi to a receptive/captive audience. Despite it being nearly 2 months short of prime mushroom season, we found loads of really interesting and inspiring fungi.

Image copyright Carol Taylor 2011

 

Image copyright Carol Taylor 2011

 

Image copyright Carol Taylor 2011

We followed a beautiful moss-banked stream to a hidden loch that seemed to be brooding in the soft light and smurr before making our way back to the cars and a short trip to my home in Gatahouse for a feast of mile-high wild pie, cep and Kilnford bacon tart and Cara’s fine bread and stem ginger cake.

Read an artist’s blog on the forage….

Read an artist’s blog on the exhibition…

 

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