1 April to 8 May 2019
Donna Davis, an artist who explores the intersection between art and science, undertook an intensive 52-week field research investigation at Purga Nature Reserve, near Ipswich, in partnership with the Queensland Herbarium; documenting fungi species, which grew alongside the endangered Swamp Tea-tree (Melaleuca irbyana).
From this research Donna has created Unseen, a playful and immersive installation work that philosophically and artistically explores inter-species relationships; investigating the intricate web of ‘unseen’ connections with reference to plants and fungi.
In collaboration between artist and scientist, the data and specimens were morphologically and microscopically examined. They were then documented, and classified by Nigel Fechner, Senior Mycologist at the Queensland Herbarium who added them to the Queensland’s important fungi records, as the Purga Nature Reserve had never been documented.
Nigel said, “This work is invaluable in furthering the science of mycorrhizal associations, as well as documenting the unknown fungal flora of the Purga Nature Reserve for the first time.
There is increasing awareness of the vital role that fungi play in facilitating plant species survival in Australia’s mostly nutrient poor soils, but the majority of fungi species are yet to be discovered…
In broad terms, there is an average of anywhere from 4-10 species of ectomycorrhizal fungus for every species of ectomycorrhizal plant. This project has uncovered more than 30 fungi species partnering Melaleuca irbyana at Purga. A number of mycorrhizal species found in the reserve were not previously known to be symbiotic with Melaleuca.”
Unseen uses sculpture, installation and digital media to evoke curiosity and contemplation about the intricate, and often unseen, connections working together to nurture and sustain our living planet.
‘Unseen’ is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland. Donna Davis is supported by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian, state and territory governments’. This project is also supported by the Queensland Herbarium, centre for research and information on Queensland ecosystems, plants and fungi.
The research collaborations and artwork concept development for this project was proudly supported by the Ipswich Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF). The Ipswich Regional Arts Development Fund is a Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and Ipswich City Council partnership to support local arts and culture. This project was also supported by the Queensland Mycological Society.
Image: Hidden Worlds 2017 Donna Davis Pigment print
Image courtesy of the artist