Words & Images
FUNGI and fungus-seeking folk draw me to the field on a daily basis in my efforts to understand perceptions of these organisms.
A field-based approach means regularly negotiating the unexpected, as well as embracing serendipity.
This photo essay presents a brief foray into my fieldwork in Australia and Europe.
Fungi are curious organisms.
Some of the fungi I’ve encountered in my fieldwork look like these…
Fungal folk are also curious, and some look like these….
These fungal folk observe and collect fungi for different reasons. Sometimes scientific…
Sometimes out of curiosity…
And other times as food.
The archives I draw from in this research are mostly in the forest.
Both in Australia….
These many and varied forest archives provide the richest sources of this research.
The histories and stories are all there.
In and on trees.
Etched in rockfaces.
Within leaf litter and soil.
Among communities of fungi.
Shared by the forayers & foragers.
And in the tracks and traces left behind.
Then there are Archives of Invisible Lives.
These bracket fungi, along with the help of bacteria, invertebrates and diligent woodpeckers, recycle this stag, returning it to the forest soils.
Weather Archives, such as this fungal ‘snow meter’, provide a good indication of overnight snowfalls.
In the depths of winter when fungi and fungal folk lie low, I head to the depths of the Fungarium at Kew Botanic Gardens.
Almost 1.3 million dried fungus specimens (including c.a. 50,000 original types) are housed in the Fungarium.
The lack of mycological expertise in Australia in the century following European settlement saw most specimens make the journey to the northern hemisphere for identification.
Many of these are still housed in the archives at Kew.
Both as specimens and written records.
When it gets really bleak, I return Downunder for further fungal foraying.
But things can be just as bleak back home.
Working in the field is about being prepared for the unexpected.
…the locals might not always be friendly.
Or can be downright weird.
Or language translations might be necessary.
Field assistants might not like early morning starts…
Or run out of steam.
No matter how well prepared…
The path can be treacherous…
And at the end of the day, you might find there’s no room at the inn.
Much of this research is spent with my eyes keenly fixed on the forest floor.
But before I hang up my boots at the end of the day, I always remind myself to look up…
It would be a shame to miss out on the extraordinary and unexpected.