Magnifying Mushrooms | Fungi Open Day Success

We were delighted to open the Community Garden and Allotment at Boundary Way on 7th September to put on a day of discovery to celebrate our Magnifying Mushrooms project. The day offered visitors a chance to see new and exciting artwork by local artists, workshop participants, the Wolverhampton Branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild and school children, as well as the opportunity to take part in both arts and science workshops on site. The aim was to celebrate the wonderful work that has taken place throughout the project to raise awareness around the beauty and importance of fungi – and we certainly did celebrate!

Throughout the day the poly tunnel was open with an exhibition of fungi inspired artwork on show. There was everything from paintings to textiles and we were really excited to show incredible work commissioned from local artists – Kanj Nicholas, Clare Wassermann and Hannah Boyd. Amongst other wonderful artists, these three artists created work inspired by the fungi on site – discovering inspiration in a new and exciting place. The work they produced was an intricate look at the under and overground world of the mushroom, and perfectly reflected their newfound passion for all this fungi!

Local textile artists from the Wolverhampton branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild also exhibited fascinating and varied work, inspired by talks about fungi and Boundary Way by artist and Chair of the branch, Elise Stewart. It was amazing to see the versatility of the embroiderer’s work, who covered everything from toadstools to fungi under the microscope in all different styles. We were also delighted to show inspiring, recycled work from Elise herself and also work from participants in her series of textile workshops that have taken place as part of the project.

It wasn’t only artwork from Elise’s workshops that was returned to us to show on our special day – examples of work from every workshop that took place in the programme were exhibited and it was amazing to see such an inspiring cross section of the project’s impact all in one place. One of the workshops that we recieved the most work from was artist Clare Wassermann’s nature sketchbook making session. The outcomes from this were beautiful and really represented the diversity of the fungi life at Boundary Way. Thank you to everyone who took part in the exhibition and led workshops during the Magnifying Mushrooms project!

During the project, we not only did work with the public, but also enlisted herbalist Maria Billington and Jess Hartshorn to work with West Park School to teach them about fungi and find inspiration in the science and beauty of nature. The school visited the allotment and had a fun-day discovering the amazing variety of mushrooms and wildlife we have on site with Maria. They were then visited in the classroom by Jess who enabled them to create log paintings and clay mushrooms inspired by their trip – all of which was exhibited on the day!

As well as West Park School, local Madeley Nursery School also found inspiration in our project. The children have been exploring fungi and interconnections in nature and the world beneath our feet with their staff, inspired by Kanj Nicholas’ vibrant series of mushroom artwork. Thank you to the school for facilitating this work and enabling us to exhibit it, we were so pleased that they were able to find inspiration in our project!

Alongside our exhibition, we also had two incredibly successful workshops that took place. The first being an investigation into the world of fungi through watercolour painting technique with artist Kanj Nicholas, and the second a fungi discovery tour with mycologist Rich Wright from Forever Fungi.

Inspired by her recent research into fungi Kanj discussed her inspiration and methods in her work for the Magnifying Mushrooms project at Boundary Way. The workshop took place outside in the Community Garden and offered an informal, exploratory session with a unique opportunity to see Kanj’s new body of work and to learn about and try her painting methods. Participants loved the relaxed nature of painting from real life fungi in the great outdoors and the workshop was a hit – sold out and people asking for more! Keep an eye on our events page to make sure you don’t miss out on any workshops at Boundary Way!

We were thrilled that Rich Wright, a mycologist with an incredible depth of knowledge and experience, was able to join us for the whole day. He set up a fascinating station where visitors could look closely at incredible fungi and was on hand all day to answer questions on all things mushroom!

Rich’s workshop took place in the afternoon for a captive audience of all ages. The visitors were taken on an informative and interactive tour of Boundary Way Community Garden, during which Rich gave an overview of fungi and its interrelationships with plants and trees and the hidden world beneath our feet known as the Wood Wide Web. He also explained the importance of fungi to ecosystems and the future of the planet, as well as answering the many questions our inquisitive visitors had. A lovely way to spend a sunny September afternoon.

We were honoured to be joined by the Right Worshipful the Mayor of Wolverhampton and the Mayoress’ Constort. It was a delight to show them around the exhibition and see their keen interest in our work surrounding fungi. Rich was on hand to assist the explanation of the fungi’s importance and it was so lovely that the Right Worshipful the Mayor of Wolverhampton was able to lead an address of thanks to our visitors and participants. A wonderful visit that we hope to repeat upon our next event taking place.

A big thank you has to go out to the Crafty Gardener, our fellow plot holders, for working with us on the day and providing such scrumptious allotment grown soup and homemade cakes. They also had a stall selling crafts and plants, which our visitors thoroughly enjoyed. If you’d like to hear more about their work, visit our Crafty Gardener page for more information.

Thank you to all the artists and workshop leaders and everyone who took part in our Magnifying Mushrooms project. This project was made possible with funding from Grow Wild and an Open Access Awards from Creative Black Country. We are also delighted to have worked with the individuals and organisations we did, including West Park Primary School and the Wolverhampton Branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild who created some amazing fungi inspired artwork. We’ve all found so much inspiration in the fungi on site and will continue our work to discover more about them and their amazing underground world.

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