Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi at Somerset House

Gaia Art Foundation has partnered with Somerset House, London, to produce an engaging public programme to accompany the exhibition “Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi”, curated by Francesca Gavin, a visual celebration of the mushroom, and all the progressive, poetic and psychedelic wonder it evokes. Bringing together the works of 35 leading artists, designers, writers and musicians including John Cage, Haroon Mirza, Beatrix Potter and Cy Twombly, “Mushrooms” surveys the colourful cultural legacy of fungi, as well as the promise it offers to reimagine our future relationship with the planet.

The accompanying public programme, supported by Gaia Art Foundation, included leading artists and experts in the fields of design, sustainability and health. Amongst the highlights:

  • A talk exploring the mind-altering properties of mushrooms with Robin Carhart-Harris, Head of The Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London, and Darren Springer, Edible Utopia Mycologist, researcher and educator.
  • A panel discussion on the organic phenomena of mycelium, both in the natural world and in design. The discussion includes Merlin Sheldrake, fungal biologist and celebrated author; Ehab Sayed, founder of Biohm, an organisation that use biological systems to drive innovation in domestic design; and Nancy Diniz, architect, co-founder of bioMATTERS LCC and course leader of the Biodesign MA at Central Saint Martins UAL
  • “Mushrooms Gallery Late”, which includes mushroom workshops, short films and a special performance by Siôn Parkinson with Sam Annand, which is inspired by the stinkhorn mushroom and feature a spectacular ‘mushroom dress’ created by designer Matty Bovan
  • A screening of Monty Wates’s critically acclaimed documentary Magic Medicine, which explores how magic mushrooms may provide a solution in treating depression.

Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi” was on view at Somerset House, London, from 20 Jan–26 Apr.

Gaia Art Foundation was proud to support an extensive events programme from leading artists and experts to accompany Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi spanning design, sustainability, health and beauty.

On 16th April 2020, Gaia Art Foundation and Somerset House hosted ‘Fungi Futures: Movements in Mycellium’, a panel discussion with Merlin Sheldrake, Ehab Sayed, Nancy Diniz and Phil Ross. The talk asked whether investigating and embracing the natural world can inform and improve our everyday life and find solutions to man made environmental crises. Watch the video below:

You can also watch a virtual tour of the exhibition Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi here.The exhibition explored the colourful cultural legacy of the humble mushroom and their powerful potential in the planet’s survival, as innovative designers experiment with the sustainable material of mushrooms in fashion, homewares and architecture.  Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi was halfway through its run when lockdown begun, so for those who missed it in person, this virtual tour is the first chance that they will be able to see inside this original show and discover why the simple fungi fascinates us still. Watch the video below: