I have long wanted to create a series of prints on the theme of Mushrooms.
I had taken almost 300 photos of mushrooms over the years when walking my dog in local woodland, and I felt they would make an excellent resource for a project. Despite having collected these images and my own ever growing interest in mushrooms, the inclination to actually start a project eluded me.

Mushrooms are extraordinary. They can be intensely beautiful and
can also look grotesque and unbelievable like something from another world.
They grow in a myriad of sizes, ranging from the minute to the gigantic, and their shapes are complex and can be so bizarre. The range of colours is never ending, from the subtle to the obtrusively bright and showy.

They live such fascinating and tangled lives and contribute so much to the natural world and to the people in it. Researching mushrooms can take you in so many directions from science and biology, all the way to to literature and mythology. The sheer wealth of information available was so overwhelming that it became difficult to identify where I could begin my own project.

It was discovering the aptly titled ‘Mushrooms’ by Sylvia Plath which provided me with a starting point. This poem uses mushrooms as a metaphor for the reduced and limited lives of women after the second world war with the return of men from active service. Their vital contribution was denied and ignored and they were expected to give up their new found freedom, becoming in Plath’s words; ‘Bland-mannered, asking little or nothing.’
Reading this, I could, at last visualise the completed project in my head. Although coerced back into domesticity after years of being integral to the war effort, in their own quiet and gentle way, women continued to slowly assert their influence on the postwar western world, ‘Perfectly voiceless, Widen the crannies, Shoulder through holes.’

Plath also uses the line ‘We diet on water, On crumbs of shadow.’ Wanting to avoid the cute, anthropomorphised Disney image of mushrooms from ‘Fantasia’, I decided to represent their shadowy existence, by making my own mushrooms dark and tenebrous in nature.

These mushrooms represent a time after the poem. Beyond “Our foot is in the door,” when they have become large, powerful and strong, pushing through, occupying space, demanding a place in the world.