7 Apr 2017

Garden textile artist handcrafts national award

Bruce Langridge

People who know me will know that a few years ago I became entranced by fungi, so much so that I found myself on the Education and Outreach committee of the British Mycological Society.

This year the Society decided it was time that we celebrated the life and work of people who have helped to spread their love and knowledge of fungi to audiences who may have had little or no previous knowledge of this fascinating Kingdom.  A national award for Fungi Outreach and Education was launched and the first recipients are husband and wife David and Elizabeth Moore.

They were largely responsible for pioneering the British Mycological Society’s roadshow in the 1990s, beginning the Society’s outreach and education work beyond the realm of universities and mycological groups, and into schools and the likes of the Malvern and Chelsea Flower Shows. They’ve since continued to share their enthusiasm and knowledge in books and on an amazingly informative website.

So what would make a good award? I immediately thought of our Stitching Botanicals group and the wonderful depictions of fungi that you can now see in our From Another Kingdom exhibition. Surely something like that? I spoke to Marilyn Caruana, the leader of the group and, having discovered scientific papers of David Moore in our Roy Watling mycological library, she suggested something more ambitious.

David Moore’s research was on the nature and development of fungi, with a particular focus on a lesser-known type of ink cap Coprinopsis cinerea.  His drawings and photographs formed the basis of Marilyn’s masterpiece. Using a combination of techniques, including wax fixings, embroidery, drawing and colouring with coomassie blue, the colour used by scientists to highlight microscopic features. Marilyn has produced an artwork that is not only unique but is easily worthy of being considered a national award. I’m very proud of what she has done for mycology and for textile art, and on behalf of the Botanic Garden.

David and Elizabeth Moore were presented with the award yesterday at the British Mycological Society’s new headquarters at Charles Darwin House in London by the Society’s Education and Outreach committee chair, Ali Ashby. Clearly modest people, David stressed that their pioneering work would not have been possible without the support of former BMS committee members Steve Moss, Howard Eggins and Tony Whalley.

We hope that the award might inspire others to share their love and passion for fungi in the future.