Fruiting Bodies

The artists who have invented the Unextinction Machine have been working hard on another artwork about ecology, called Fruiting Bodies. It will be on show as part of Woodland Wonders, in Nunhead Cemetery’s chapel every weekend throughout September. This is a collaboration by all three McKenzies, including Bridget.

As a family they have collected and created a ‘wunderkammer’, a display of curious objects, relating to healthy and diseased trees. Tree diseases are a growing problem as climate change and environmental mismanagement bring many stresses to forested areas. Nunhead Cemetery is not immune. The connections between the wellbeing of humans and of trees are closer than many people imagine, in so many ways. This cemetery is a close gathering of human bodies, dead and dying/alive, and trees, dead and dying/alive.

The main cabinet resembles a museum display, with specimens and photos that show the causes and effects of tree diseases. However, the labels give no technical explanation – instead they use metaphor to point at deeper causes and effects of our treatment of nature. They imply many branches of poetic connection between trees, humans, disease and decay. The title ‘Fruiting Bodies’ is a scientific term for fungal growths, but here it could also connote the idea of animal bodies nourishing the trees from below.


You can see photos and read the writing from this piece here.

Brian’s sculpture, a skeletal part-human, part-tree body, is laid out below reminding us of the people and the roots beneath the soil here, and the close connections between people and nature. Megan’s figures are like wood spirits, coming to life out of the rotting wood.

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