Residency artists and researchers

Painting, drawing, printmaking

Tessa Zettel

artist, writer

Kuva: Jussi Virkkumaa

Australian artist and writer Tessa Zettel is working with mushrooms during her residency in Saari. ”I’m working mainly on collecting different ways of being with mushrooms. By this I mean relationships that people have with mushrooms, the embodied cultural practices they develop around them, the often complex ways of knowing that come from reciprocal more-than-human dynamics involving mushrooms on the surface but underneath so many ‘others’ as well (plant, animal, forest, rocks, weather patterns, tonttu and so on)”, she says.

Over the past five years, Tessa has toured various international residencies and learned what can realistically be achieved in a short time in a new place.”I hope to find some people willing to share their stories and take me mushroom picking, and I’d like also to begin translating this material loosely into the format of a small publication. I know suppilovahvero and kantarelli from previous visits to Finland so would love to meet and get to know some new mushrooms this time”, she says.

Discussion plays an important role in Tessa’s artistic work, and the process and dialogue are of particular interest to her at the various stages of the project. ”Just as fungi are the communicators of the forest floor, I’m interested in how they could become catalysts of exchange above ground. This may entail literally trading dried mushrooms I’ve collected for stories from others. Always I read whatever feels relevant, from theory to fiction, to help shape my approach to the bodies of knowledge I’m connecting with. And I do sometimes set tasks like drawing a mushroom each day, since observing (the real business of drawing) is itself an interesting way of slowing down and attuning oneself to other beings and what they might teach us”, Tessa says.

In Saari ”I’m finding a rhythm in various combinations of walking, reading, drawing, cooking, breathing, watching, collecting, resting, listening, working, writing, sleeping, talking, eating and sauna-ing (no word for that in English!).”