You Can Now See Somerset House’s Mushrooms Exhibition From Home

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1. Seana Gavin, ‘Mindful Mushroom’, courtesy of th
Seana Gavin, ‘Mindful Mushroom’Courtesy of the artist

First opened in January, the mixed-media show explores our historic and cultural fascination with the mushroom

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Since lockdown began, museums, galleries and other cultural institutions have been finding new ways to connect with their audiences – from launching interactive initiatives to transporting exhibitions into the digital realm. Somerset House is the latest to join the movement, today unveiling a digital tour of its brilliant exhibition, Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi. Curated by contributor Francesca Gavin, Mushrooms looks at funghi in visual culture – their connection to fantasy worlds, psychedelia and spirituality – as well as exploring their place in a sustainable future.

“Mushrooms kept appearing in contemporary art and I wanted to know why,” Francesca Gavin told Daisy Hoppen when the exhibition first opened. “I am fascinated by how such a variety of artists and designers are drawn to a single topic of inspiration. The results are so varied and touch on everything from poetry to economics to ideas around communication, climate and the psychedelic experience.” The exhibition’s eclectic offering reflects this far-reaching funghi obsession Gavin speaks of, from beautiful 1902 illustrations by Beatrix Potter to a solar-powered ‘mushroom suitcase’ by conceptual artist Carsten Höller, plus hypnotic mushroom collages by Seana Gavin.

Among her personal highlights, Gavin told AnOther in January, are Jason Evans’ film about mushroom pickers in the Pacific northwest and Perks and Mini’s handmade graphic rug – as well as Cy Twombly’s print series loaned from the Tate collection. Elsewhere, the exhibition showcases a decomposable mushroom burial suit, designed to reduce the damaging environmental impact of the funeral industry, by Jae Rhim Lee; experimental fungi-based shoes by designer Kristel Peters, a surreal film from Egyptian artist Adham Faramawy entitled My fingers distended as honey dripped from your lips ... and a large-scale mushroom-based floral installation from the London Flower School, featuring mushrooms grown at Somerset House – all of which are now available to browse online. 

For those who want even more, Somerset House has also launched a series of funghi-orientated online events spanning design, sustainability, health and beauty, inluding a Mindful Mushroom Collage Workshop with featured artist Seana Gavin and cultivation tutorials with mycologist-in-residence Darren Springer.  

Visit Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi is available to view here.