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An Art Exhibit Underneath London Made of Entirely of Fungus

"The Majesty" is an installation in an abandoned London railway vault that's crawling with slow-moving, spore-spitting mold.

VIGO Gallery

Love art that oozes? Then head on down to "The Majesty," an installation in an abandoned London railway vault that's crawling with slow-moving, spore-spitting fungi.

This eldritch vision was created by horticortural artists Tony Heywood and Alison Condie (represented by VIGO Gallery), whose respective backgrounds in gardening and botany/zoology come through here loud and mucusy. For now, the exhibit looks like a moonlit mountain crag that's been colonized with glittering alien lifeforms. Over the course of the summer, however, it will gradually shift appearances as a specially chosen species of mold pops into being and begins to move over the entire installation. At the end, it should look like the Blob grew an appreciation for fine art. Wear painter's masks.

The eerie exhibit is one stop in a local garden-arts festival called City Scapes; other venues include the Tate Modern and the London Eye. The home of "The Majesty" is particularly well chosen. It's hermetically sealed inside the Old Vic Tunnels, a series of shadowy lacunae beneath Waterloo Station that's become a magnet for weird art, like this "Vermin Death Star." The cavelike microclimate, with water seeping from the walls and pooling on the floor, should help the fungi really flourish. As a lagniappe for hungry patrons, the artists plan to grow edible mushrooms on their sculpture.

There will also be an unspecified smell component supplied by perfumer Penhaligon's, perhaps to mask the dank odor of the mold forest. Here's a brief shot from the artists' statement:

'The Majesty' will evolve over the next six months during which the microscopic and the overlooked will be cultivated and enhanced. As Britain spends the summer celebrating its glorious, and glamorous, heritage, so this monumental work muses on the cycles of beauty, pomp, ritual and inevitable decay. A meditation inspired by current affairs, 'The Majesty' hopes to decorate, question and seduce.

Or make you dive for the bleach, whatever. One more shot of the exhibit:

Images courtesy of VIGO Gallery.

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.