Fungal research radio program
23.04.13 BY Bridget
- -

The Forum BBC radio program hosted by Bridget Kendall broadcast a show about Fungi yesterday. Guests were fungal ecologist Lynne Boddy, Danish mycologist and photographer Jens Petersen, and San Francisco-based artist, chef and fungal furniture-maker, Phil Ross. All fascinating speakers. Phil Ross makes furniture cast out of a compost slurry  innoculated with fungus. The fungus mycelium eventually replaces the starch based material and is then dried. Fungus has a high level of Chitin, which is what crab shells are made of, the furniture is essentially organically grown into chitin.

Phil Ross’s site is here.

The early nature films of Percy Smith
20.03.13 BY Bridget
- -

The BBC has just aired a wonderful documentary, ‘Edwardian Insects on Film’ about the film maker Percy Smith, who rose to fame in the early 20th century with short films of  highly magnified flies juggling and holding dolls. Smith went onto make beautiful time lapse films of botanical subjects, and invent a way of filming underwater.  He also used animation techniques to mimic phenomena seen under strong magnification that could not be filmed. 

Magic Myxies – a film on the life cycle of Slime moulds made by Percy Smith in 1931. This film is a combination of magnified footage and animation. 

Minakata Kumagusu
21.12.12 BY Bridget

A few years ago while I was living in Japan doing a residency at the CCA Kitakyushu, I discovered one of the most interesting figures in Modernist Japan, the polymath Biologist/Folklorist Minakata Kumagusu. Most famous for his work on slime moulds and fungi, Kumagusu also was a collector of folklore and myth and a passionate advocate against shrine consolidation (and demolition); and for forest conservation .On a visit to Tokyo I saw a fantastic exhibition of Kumagusu’s specimen and field notes, all of fungi and moulds, the original pages contained very beautiful drawings and pressed examples of the specimens. 

Minakata Kumagusu travelled and studied in the US, South America and Britain, very unusually for a Japanese person in the Meiji era (late 19th to early 20th cent), and could speak English, German, Spanish and many other languages. I am currentl