Prototaxites I was commissioned by the London Fungus Network for their first ever Fungus Fortnight; 14 days of fungi inspired talks, walks, workshops and events. It has subsequently been exhibited at Kew Gardens and Omved Gardens, London.
The sculpture was made in collaboration with the artist Jack Alexandroff and residents of Waltham Forest. It is a reflection on the overlap between clay, fungi and collaborative art practice. Participants rolled coils and added pinch pots according to patterns laid down by past participants like structures growing from genetic information, all guided by us. Participants became the microbes at the end of our hyphae.
Its form is based on that of Prototaxites - a prehistoric fungus of outsized proportions, the Tyrannosaurus rex of the fungal world. It lived 400 million years ago at a time when only millipedes, insects and worms crawled on the land and the only plants were liverworts clinging to rivers. This mushroom-like being grew 9 metres tall and would have dominated the landscape.
The sculpture contains internal pockets to hold mycelium grown on food waste. The holes allow edible mushrooms to periodically fruit.