By Marc Alexander from his ‘The Secret Forest’ exhibition. ‘Mushrooms I’, oil on board, 17cm by 17cm, (2014).
A mushroom or toadstool are common in the Secret Forest. This fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body fungus, typically produced above ground, out of the damp soil, have often fed a weary traveler, but beware not all mushrooms are edible.
The standard for the name “mushroom” is the cultivated white button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus; hence the word “mushroom” is most often applied to those fungi (Basidiomycota, Agaricomycetes) that have a stem (stipe), a cap (pileus), and gills (lamellae, sing. lamella) on the underside of the cap. “Mushroom” also describes a variety of other gilled fungi, with or without stems, therefore the term is used to describe the fleshy fruiting bodies of some Ascomycota. These gills produce microscopic spores that help the fungus spread across the ground or its occupant surface.
Forms deviating from the standard morphology usually have more specific names, such as “bolete”, “puffball”, “stinkhorn”, and “morel”, and gilled mushrooms themselves are often called “agarics” in reference to their similarity to Agaricus or their order Agaricales. By extension, the term “mushroom” can also refer to either the entire fungus when in culture, the thallus (called a mycelium) of species forming the fruiting bodies called mushrooms, or the species itself.
The Secret Forest
Inspiration for this body of work stems from my love and gratitude toward God for His marvellous creation, which has enthused within me an interest in forestry, particularly its aspects of conservation and regeneration.
The Secret Forest is a paradise of my imaginings, wondrous and alive with many fascinating forms of life. I have often gotten lost in its wooded beauty, trailing shadowy pathways and streams, searching every nook and cranny amongst tangled root systems and mossy rocks just so that I can feast my eyes on its hidden treasures. This is a place where the feral imagination could easily envisage the likes of, elves and tree Ents – a place entirely unspoiled by mankind and the age of machines.