Art in the Time of Coronavirus


I had been wanting for some time to make  a hanging mushroom piece made from lichen covered Blackthorn. It grows everywhere in the hedgerows around my home and is prevellant in the wet winters. I suggested the idea to Chantal Colleu-Dumond at Chaumont sur Loire and she readily agreed – pointing out that the best place would be in the main barn.

I sent her drawings of how to make the top and the bottom and a date was set to make it in February when three students would be available. Then we went into lockdown and there was no way I could come over and make it. Instead Kay and I collected all the material – nearly 4000 pieces and we strung these in the studio. There were 456 strands with 3743 pieces of lichen covered thorn to be tied on. Each 4 m. long strand was placed on the full scale cross section drawing and the thorns tied on at the correct intervals. Each strand was wrapped around a numbered piece of card and placed in a numbered boxes – about 20 in all. It took us the best part of a month. We shipped the boxes labelled sculpture material and held our breath that they wouldn’t be opened and impounded. They got through without a hitch

Each number represented one of 14 circles which matched the cross section circles top and bottom. So in theory if the students started in the middle they could hook on top and bottom working out to the edge. There were video and written instructions but things get lost in translation and it took Thibault and Camille longer than anticipated, but they did it. Despite Covid and Brexit we made the piece.