My artistic practice has always been influenced by nature, specifically because I am most happiest when surrounded by it. I have decided to resurface my fascination and enthusiasm for the texture, appearance and colour of lichens. I am also intrigued by the nature of their development, as fungi form a dual organism with cyanobacterium or an algae – to create lichens – as they are incapable of photosynthesis as they lack the green pigment, chlorophyll. They need to absorb other nutrients from surrounding vegetation and therefore they combine with the algae or cyanobacterium to sustain life. It’s really interesting to see something so colourful and developed come from a need of nourishment in simple terms. This is not different to human life and there have been plenty of times in recent years with the breakdown of my mental health that I have felt like a fungi clinging on to anything that will make me feel happy and healthy.
When dry, lichens simply take on the colour of the fungus itself or can be drab and grey. But when wet, they are completely transformed. This is because the fungal cells in the upper cortex become transparent and the colours of the algal or cyanobacterial layers can shine through. Green algae bestow lichens with a bright green colour, while cyanobacteria give hues of dark green, brown, or black.