Emma Dudlyke

Exhibition

'Walk With Me' presented at Benk + Bo

Mushrooms are magical – from early origins in ancient folklore and sacred rituals to modern medicine, mushrooms remain captivating.

Mushrooms are bizarre, varied and beautiful: they possess potent powers. Some will kill you, some will feed you and some ‘will lift the veil’.

These short-lived fruiting bodies can prove elusive, living mysteries often well-hidden amongst the dirt-black detritus of the woodland floor; even blood-red caps and bright-white polka dots soon transform into white spored silence, hidden once more in the undergrowth.

Mushrooms to me convey what is most baffling and seductive about nature. They and their fungal hosts are alien in form to human and animal, plant and mineral. Like an iceberg, the majority of a fungus is subterranean, subliminal – out of sight, out of mind.

Yet, like fibre-optic cables and neural pathways, fungi are inherently connective; bringing together other life forms in a vast web of interrelation and interdependency. They can surprise, popping up suddenly overnight, like a spray of graffiti on a previously unmarked wall. Most unnerving of all to our literal minds, for something so potent and powerful they are generally so small as to be easily overlooked.

Although raised in London’s urban environment, I have always been drawn toward the natural and mythical worlds. From an early age, my Norwegian mother and I would read illustrated tales of faeries, Norse myths, and the elementals that inhabit these forests.

My first experiences of forests and fungi root from childhood visits to my grandmother in Norway. I would often spend my days playing in the woodland surrounding her house until dusk. I would build simple tepee structures and play with imaginary beings, running around as fast as the wind but careful to avoid any mossy mounds so as not to disturb the trolls from their sleep!

Such early experiences and memories no doubt fostered my long-standing fascination with mushrooms and their fertile woodland landscapes; I am in part drawn by the otherworldliness, beauty, variety and mystery of mushrooms and their subsurface hosts, in part by the many forest-borne mystical narratives running through my head.

Using photography - for the past three years I have been exploring and documenting the hidden world of mushrooms throughout a variety of woodlands in the UK and Europe.

For me this work has become more than just botany, the process of seeking out these near-hidden micro-landscapes has proven to be an integral and somewhat meditative aspect.

Each photograph is a meditation on the complexity of the worlds in which the fungi sprout and bloom, worlds which we too often trample across with giant ignorance. Yet each of the photographs interplay and interlink within this series. Together they remind us that life, as with the mushroom fruits of the invisible woven networks below, is about connection and relation.


SEA OF TRANQUILITY 

SIBLINGS OF SENTIENCE

Using Format