Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi

Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi

Friday 31st January – Sunday 26th April 2020

Part of The Charles Russell Speechlys Terrace Room Series

Somerset House is showcasing a new, fascinating exhibition celebrating the remarkable world of mushrooms and all the progressive, poetic and psychedelic wonder it evokes.

Bringing together the work of over 35 leading artists, designers and musicians, Mushrooms looks at fungi’s colourful cultural legacy, as well as the promise it offers to reimagine our relationship with the planet inspiring new thinking around design and architecture.

Seana Gavin

There are three main rooms where you can explore three themes: Mycophilia; Magic Mushrooms; and Fungi Futures as well as the visitor’s exhibition shop where you will find a bespoke collection of products inspired by the world of mushrooms.

Plus, explore ground-breaking experiments in design, textiles and architecture that utilise mushrooms in exciting new ways – from upcycled agro-waste to sustainable shoes made with mycelium.

There are a number of Event Highlights running during the course of the exhibitions – tickets are available here…

One that particularly caught my eye is the special screening of the critically acclaimed documentary Magic Medicine exploring how mushrooms may provide a solution in treating depression is also a part of the events programme.

Over four years, filmmaker Monty Wates was given exclusive access to Imperial College Centre for Psychedelic Research to capture the first-ever medical trial to offer psilocybin (the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms) to a group of volunteers suffering from clinical depression.

This remarkable documentary produced by Somerset House Residents Dartmouth Films follows three of the volunteers and their families, and the staff running the trial, who hopes the controversial treatment has the power to transform millions of lives. 

Origins are the official Beauty and Wellness Sponsor of the Mushrooms exhibition at Somerset House.

Over a decade ago, under the tutelage of Dr Andrew Weil a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, Origins was one of the first brands to recognise the highly functional and soothing value of integrating mushrooms into skincare. This partnership resulted in the global best-selling franchise, Dr Andrew Weil for Origins™ Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience.

Edible Utopia – is a creative co-op comprised of artists Clare Patey, Jane Levi, Tim Mitchell, Sophie Mason and resident mycologist Darren Springer. This is an ongoing food growing project to learn more about the mushrooms growing beneath the courtyard as part of the closed-loop eco-cycle.

They have used hidden and underused parts of the historic site to grow food including a number of mushroom fruiting chambers in the “coal holes” under the courtyard. 

Mycelium, the thread-like underground root network of Fungi often referred to as the Wood Wide Web is vital to the survival of our natural environment. By forming bonds with the root networks of plants and trees mycelium forms an underground network capable of passing nutrients and warning messages from plant to plant. It is also crucial in the breakdown of dead plants and organisms, revitalising soil and enabling new life to grow.

Mycelium can also be nurtured in lab situations as a biodegradable alternative to plastic and has been used to create clothing, shoes, artwork and furniture. At the forefront of these developments at the intersection of sustainability and design is Ehab Sayed founder of Biohm, an organisation that use biological systems to drive innovation in domestic design. 

Sebastian Cox & Ninela Ivanova Ceiling Pendant

Mushroom Death Suit – Jae Rhim Lee an award-winning designer, entrepreneur, and transdisciplinary artist has her Infinity Burial Suit (aka Mushroom Death Suit) on display at the exhibition. The suit challenges the ecological impact of human consumption in her reimagining of the funeral industry. The suit is lined with mycelium to aid decomposition and the integration of the human body into the ground after death. This is inviting visitors to consider their impact on the environment after death.

Decomposable mushroom burial suit by Jae Rhim Lee

This is a very exciting exhibition, entry is free, so if the opportunity arises, do take a visit.

Poppy Watt

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