Alison Counsell Lichenas symbiosis #3


Lichenas symbiosis #3, 2021

Found birch bark, iron wire, copper, Jesmonite

H. 140 mm x Diam. 100 mm


Alison Counsell Lichenas symbiosis #3 is a  delicate table sculpture, part of a series resembling little gardens at the base of trees. It combines natural materials, resin and metals. On show as part of Nature’s Mysterious Networks, it is part of Alison Counsell’s ‘Fungus Work’ series, which is full of inventive variation. Gathering birch bark from her daily walks around Sheffield, delicate furls of timber form the starting point for her art. Keeping the idea of fungal outgrowths and mycelial connections in mind, she creates little fantastic environments. Her binding with metals and Jesmonite, an ecologically safe resin material, makes them stable.

‘Lichenas symbiosis’

The title ‘Lichenas symbiosis’ translates as ‘in symbiosis with lichen’ . It is a series of 3 and this one has the most complex bark structure with 3 intersecting layers. Around the base, Alison has made an abstract tiny garden set in green and white. It is as if tiny growths and buds are bursting through snow. It is a tiny hopeful image of natural forms in harmony.

About the artist

Alison Counsell is a key exhibitor in Nature’s Mysterious Networks and exhibited in 2019 at GroundWork as part of On the Edge. Calling herself a mapper and metalsmith, as well as artist, she is an experimental metalworker, jeweller and sculptor. She lives on the borders of Sheffield. For many years she taught at Sheffield’s art school, but now concentrates on her own practice.

“I am very fortunate that my day begins with a meditative walk in the countryside around Sheffield. Meditative walking involves keeping my mind open and instinctively following the thoughts and feelings evoked as I experience my surroundings. Sometimes I look up and feel overwhelmed by the vastness of the universe, but most of the time I look down and my imagination is drawn to the detail of the microworld : a smaller natural universe.”

‘Fungus Work’ focuses on the tree bark which the artist gathers on her daily walks around Sheffield. Her forms are inspired by the mycorrhizal network , the symbiotic relationship between plant roots and fungi, which cares for, fortifies and protects the fragile bark.

“There is a diagrammatic feel to my work, imagined fungi, mychorrizal conglomerations, and the growth of new embodiments of lichen.”