For readers of this blog, there is a common thread that links us all and that’s our fascination with Amanda’s work. How is it even possible that her creations are so beguilingly realistic? I think the answer, in part, is that she has honed her observational skills in order to really ‘see’ what she is looking at. This careful examination of an object – its form and colour, its texture, individual characteristics and blemishes – affords a deeper knowledge and understanding of the item. In a way, it’s a form of mindfulness – so beneficial for our wellbeing - and something that we can all practice. Autumn this year has truly epitomised Keats’ ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, with early morning mists cloaking the landscape and our green spaces, woods and hedgerows freely giving up their bounty. So now is the perfect time to get out and see the inspiration for Amanda’s creations in the flesh.
There is a pyrotechnic vibrancy at this time of year that I love. If we are lucky enough to get cold nights and sunny days, we are regaled with an enriching and lively display of colour as nature puts on a last effulgent show before hunkering down for the winter. Berries glisten like venetian glass in the sun and the trees hang heavy with nuts (we have a particularly diligent squirrel at present, burying its horde across the garden, stockpiling for the winter months ahead). Who can resist the warm mahogany lustre of a conker? I always end up with one or two in my pocket after a walk. Whilst swishing through leaves of burnished copper, I relish the return of that singular autumnal bouquet – an elusive blend of cold air suffused with an astringent note of bonfire and sweet, vanilla-scented decay.
There is a distracting patchwork quilt of reds, golds and terracotta all around me but, in an effort not to sail past the treasures on the forest floor with my eyes on the horizon and my head in the clouds, I force my eyes downwards. Eventually I notice that my absorption has stilled my chaotic thoughts and, astonishingly, I begin to see fungi of every shape, size and colour; from tiny seaweed-like fronds of brilliant orange clinging to low growing roots, to plate-sized field mushrooms sprouting up through a pile of leafy mulch. I come across a dead tree stump hosting at least 4 different species of fungi, one of which I recognise as bracket fungus; wavy half-moons of grey and cream hammered into the trunk like a miniature staircase. I was moved by the synchronicity of this relationship; that in death the tree was still providing life whilst, in return, the fungi got on with its work, so vital to life on Earth, of decomposing and recycling organic debris in order for new plants to have life and thrive.