House of Mycelium , Lowana Davies, The Block QUT, 2022
Reishi sculptures, plants, humidifier, aroma of healthy soil
“Mycelium is ecological connective tissue, the living seam by which much of the world is stitched into relation.”
House of Mycelium is a multisensory installation dedicated to cultivating fungal relationships. As humanity faces the triple threat of climate change, biodiversity loss, and ecological collapse, the piece seeks to reopen our imaginations to the possibility of mycelial ways of thinking and caring for one another on a damaged planet. In a review of Entangled Life, Dunn (2022, pp. 722) writes “Sheldrake makes clear that yeasts, by producing aromas and alcohols that please and alter our minds, are using us to produce more of themselves.” Working with fungi and yeast as an olfactory art material has helped me to realise the reciprocal relationship I am constantly in with the more-than-human world. I wondered what the creative intentions of the fungi might be, and how I might better facilitate these intentions. Working with Reishi – the mushroom of divine immortality, as co-creators and collaborators, the work seeks to engage the senses and critical sensibilities in an intimate conversation with fungi.

In House of Mycelium, I aimed towards an approach comparable to M Dougherty’s Forest Bath in that I sought to bring the forest into an urban environment, the outside and inside, via the smells of mycelium. Engaging noses in the earthy, mushroomy fragrances emitted by mycelial networks form connections between the dendrites in our brains with the interconnected webs of communication that form beneath the forest floor. Mycelium is essential to the functional relationships between trees and creates a wood-wide web network (Sheldrake, 2021).
By partnering with mycelium, I can reduce the amount of waste I output as a human, and if my artworks fail, I can eat them or return them to the soil. I am interested in continuing to research partnerships with fungi in the context of the current ecological crisis by developing a series of mycelium breezeblocks that will act as art pieces for reducing chemical and sound pollution. These would protect humans and more-than-humans from the negative impacts of car pollution in urban areas.

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