I recently took part in Pathways Art Trail, Hook Green Wood in Kent. Curated by Jemma Gowland and Jane Sarre, eight artists made art, sculpture and poetry inspired by the woodland. We also held a series of talks and workshops. My talk was about lichens found in the woods and how they can be affected by air pollution. Hook Green Wood has oak moss, evernia prunastri and also ramalina farinacea, both branched lichens which are sensitive to air pollution. We also found grey-green foliose lichen parmelia sulcata and the more pollution-tolerant yellow lichen xanthoria parietina. My ceramic forms were based on algae and fungi and showed the effects of air pollution on lichens. The series started with lichen-covered forms and ended with black and barren forms showing the lack of lichens in our air polluted city centres. Lichen biodiversity is important; birds use lichens in their nests, some animals eat lichen and it is often the first organism to colonise newly formed rocks, both volcanic and man made surfaces.
Photos by Alex Brattell