Isabelle Kirouac & Willoughby Arevalo were in residency at the Kitsilano Community Centre from 2020 to 2021, as part of the Artists in Communities program (City of Vancouver). During this time, they offered biweekely activities to community members of all ages in and around the Kitsilano neighbourhood.
Read our BLOG Below
December 10, 2021
We celebrated the end of the mushroom season and the conclusion of our residency over mushroom snacks and teas. We exhibited the fungal map of the neighborhood, the collective mushroom cookbook, mushroom lanterns made by the participants, and presented the documentation of our projects throughout the year. We felted one last time together, and listened to fungi through biosonification. We concluded the evening by listening to a concert of improvised music between a live musician and a turkey tail mushroom (!)
December 5, 2021
Today, we worked diligently at creating beautiful mushroom lanterns, each of us building a wire armature and covering it with delicate rice paper. Chanterelles, Amanitas, jellies, Russulas and Boletes were some of the many inspirations. After five hours of focused work, participants are looking forward to lighting and displaying their lanterns during our lantern parade and celebration next week.
November 12, 2021
Today we felted a series of fungi inspired by local specimens encountered around the Kitsilano Community Centre and uploaded by community members to iNaturalist. We added them to our Felted Mushrooms Map. New additions included Bonnets (Mycena sp.), several Cortinarius species (Webcaps), a Western Witch’s Hat (Hygrocybe singeri), a Camembert Russula (Russula amoenolens), a Poisonpie (Hebeloma Crustuliniforme), a Cracked Cap Bolete (Xerocomellus diffractus), a Splitgill (Schizophyllum commune), a Deceiver (Laccaria laccata) and a Honey Mushroom (Armillaria sp.)
November 3, 2021
This week, we were surrounded by food lovers who helped us cook a series of dishes honouring the qualities of local wild fungi. With started the evening with a mixed greens salad with a warm mushroom vinaigrette, which included Saffron Milk Caps (Lactarius deliciosus) and Yellow Foot (Craterellus tubaeformis). Our main dishes were a small plate of Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus gilbertsonii) and Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) battered, deep fried, and served with homemade lacto fermented dill pickles, as well as a delicious Tom Kha Hed soup, highlighting the seafood like qualities of wild Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus). We ended our meal with a decadent Chanterelle (Cantharellus formosus), apple and quince pie, and a cup of Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) tea.
October 22, 2021
Today, a group of us gathered at the Kitsilano Community Centre for a fungi olfactory play time. We took a short walk outside the centre, bringing our noses to various surfaces to explore their scents and awaken our sense of smell. We encountered the aromas of tomato leaves, marigolds, garbage cans, wet concrete walls, dirt, sweet gum trees, crushed hedge laurel leaves, electrical boxes, and many more. On our way back, we offered a selection of uniquely fragrant mushrooms for the participants to smell. Discerning hints of fenugreek, earth, ozone, rhubarb, Mr. Noodles seasoning powder, walnuts, chalk, river silt, pine-sol cleaner, peaches, and more, the participants placed their mushrooms on an aromatic wheel of fungal smells created by Willoughby and Isabelle. To conclude our time together, everyone got a paper fragrance strip inspired by smells found in mushrooms to interpret through drawing and writing. Discussions were filled with vivid memories imbued with playfulness.
October 8, 2021
We enjoyed this beautiful, sunny fall day at Iyal’mexw/Jericho West Park and made the acquaintance of a number of mushrooms, notably many species of Agaricus and Lepitota (in the broad sense), which ranged from the choice edibles The Prince (Agaricus augustus, pictured left and centre) and Olive Shaggy Parasol (Chlorophyllum olivieri), to the Deadly Parasol (Lepiota subincarnata, right). The toxic Inky Agaricus (Agaricus moelleri) made a bold, surprise appearance at the end of our walk. The aromas of the Earthballs (Scleroderma sp.) tantalized our noses with notes of rubber, tar and earth.
September 16-26, 2021
We are grateful to have been invited to share the Felted Fungal Map we created in collaboration with local community members at the Kitsilano Community Centre as part of the Together and Apart Exhibition at the Roundhouse Community Center. Alongside the exhibition, we taught a mushroom needle felting workshop to an enthusiastic group of mycophiles.
September 19, 2021
Today we went on a one-of-a-kind mushroom sonic adventure. We gathered in Iyal’mexw/Jericho West Park and started by practicing a Deep Listenig score written by Pauline Oliveros, where participants engaged in a dialog with the sounds surrounding them. We then walked in silence across several trails, imagining our feet as ears, and noticing the soundscape ecology. We concluded our session by an interspecies concert, featuring a Ramaria (coral mushroom) and a group of Gymnopus confluens (Fuzzy Foot) heard through a biosonification device, improvising with Clara Rose on violin, and Robyn Jacob on melodica.
Photography by Yvonne Chew
September 17, 2021
We were planning a Forest Movement Practice session in Jericho Park West, which was unfortunately cancelled because of the very heavy rain. Another session will be rescheduled.
August 22, 2021
T’uy’t’tanat – Cease Wyss led us into the woods near the Iy̓ál̓mexw village site (aka Jericho Park West). She told us stories of the place – how it was inhabited by warriors who protected the inlet, with help of the sandbar which would cause invading canoes to runaground. She told us of when it was clearcut and settled only 130 years ago. She told us about participating in an archeological dig nearby, how she felt love while holding the blue jade adze blades, which had gone unused, likely due to the first wave of smallpox. She told us of when Skwxwú7mesh women, ages 9-90 saved Vancouver’s settler residents from the great fire of 1886, shuttling 30 people at a time to the North Shore in their 2000 pound canoes, singing together as they pulled together all night long. She introduced us to a few of her grandmothers – the plants – speaking of their medicine, identification features, ecological relationships, and the importance of growing indigenous plants in our gardens.
August 17, 2021
Kitsilano Community Centre’s Youth Summer Camp kids got to experience our project, with an tour of the centre’s fungal inhabitants. We dug around in a pile of woodchips, touching, smelling and looking up close with 30x magnifying lenses at mycelium. We did a rundown of the mushrooms featured on the Felted Fungi Map we made last fall, and we went out to see who was around in the dry weather. The iconic Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) and most of the others were hiding underground, but the tenacious Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor), Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum Hirsutum), and Armillaria rhizomorphs were enduring.
July 29, 2021
Taking insporation from a stack of mushroom books, we dug carving tools into rubber blocks and printed away! In the collective print sheet below, we have (clockwise from top): mycelium, Yellow Morel (Morchella esculenta), Mushroom Labyrinth, Agrocybe aegerita, Agrocybe dura, Fairy Ring Mushroom (Marasmius oreades). Mush gratitude to The Learnery for renting us the blockprinting equipment!
July 17, 2021
We had a lovely day today, surrounded by community members of all ages. We explained the process of making ink from Shaggy Mane mushrooms, shared some of the local ink we made with the participants and used calligraphy brushes and pens to draw mushrooms, letters, and other marks.
June 5, 2021
This weekend, a diverse group of new participants and familiar faces joined our Forest Movement Practice under a few Douglas firs in Jericho Park. The air smelled as sweet as Nootka roses. Beside a large cluster of inky cap mushrooms by the side of the road, we didn’t observe much fungal life, but noticed the growth and liveliness of many plants. After spending some time listening, and tuning into our senses, we walked slowly and moved with eyes closed, responding to the land and its more-than-human inhabitants. One of the participant said: “I connected with nature in a way that they haven’t experienced since my childhood”.
May 22, 2021
A lively group of us gathered outside of the Kitsilano Community Centre to spend some time reading together. We bought our collection of books about fungi, art and ecology to share with everyone. After soaking in the words under the bright sun, drinking some chaga tea and eating delicious porcini-seasoned popcorn, we had a conversation about what we learned and what sparked our curiosity during our reading session.
May 15, 2021
Today was a pure delight. We exchanged a few words about fascia and mycelium before diving into slow walks, encountering nests, snails, sap, firs, and so much more. We ended our session by closing our eyes and responding to our environment through movement. We didn’t see many fungi, but we sensed the mycelium web underneath our foot steps.
April 10, 2021
This windy day, we returned to Jericho Park West, to deepen our relationship with that land. The birds were so present and active as we observed fungi and discussed their relationships with trees and humans. Practically all of the fungi we encountered today are parasites or saprotrophs decomposing live or dead wood. In this young, early-succession forest with a canopy of mostly fast-growing broadleaf trees, there are few mycorrhizal mushrooms (most of which would fruit in fall anyway). I realized today that the young conifers that have been transplanted by the Jericho Stewards lack common mycorrhizal networks with their elders, whom would have all been cut down about 160 years ago. These baby trees are like so many of us (settler/immigrant) humans – transplanted and without unbroken connections between us and our ancestors and ancestral lands. Who will teach us how to live in relationship? Who will nurture us as we grow? Fortunately, mycorrhizal fungi can nuture, share and teach across species lines.
April 3, 2021
Today a small group of us met in Jericho Park West to focus on the sounds in and around us. We practiced a sound score inspired by Deep Listening, the work of Pauline Oliveros. We went on a sound walk, listening to the foot steps and voices around us, the constant flow of the sea and traffic, and tuning into the spring symphony of birds, which concluded with a close encounter with a trio of young eagles, shouting loudly at one another. We encountered a few fungi, such as Kretzschmaria deusta (Brittle Cinder Crust) and Trametes gibbosa (Lumpy Bracket Fungus), and listened to their bioelectric signals translated through a biosonication device called Plant Wave.
March 27, 2021
We gathered at Jericho Park West to learn from the land. It is a site with many stories, having been the Musqueam village of Ee’yullmough, then stolen to become a logging camp, a golf course, an air force base, and now a park. We exercised our observational skills as we read a long, narrow strip of land, noticing plants, fungi, invertebrates, birds, the qualities of the soil, seasonal indicators, the interplay of host species and guest species, and the traces of human activity. This session was greatly influenced by my mentor and friend, radical ecologist Nance Klehm (socialecologies.net), and the practices she shared with me of land reading and of deep mapping, which was conceptualized by writer and historian William Least Heat Moon.
March 13, 2021
Today was a very exciting day, meeting virtually with a lovely group of folks to learn about Fungi Music. Together we discussed what mushrooms hear and how artists and scientists have been attempting to hear them. We shared stories and sounds from composers who have been inspired by fungi, and ended our session with an original sonic composition exercise inspired by Black Trumpet mushrooms.
February 28, 2021
We launched our 2021 residency by hosting an online cooking class. Gathered in their home kitchens, participants made an original shiitake dish created by Willoughby Arevalo while discussing past and upcoming Art & Fungi projects. For more recipes, visit our video page.
December 18, 2020
We are happy to announce that the felted fungal map is now completed and installed in the entrance of the Kitsilano Community Centre to be enjoyed throughout the winter! Using iNaturalist, community members reported sightings of mushrooms around the community centre. These mushrooms were then assigned to twelve different participants, who created wonderful needle-felted interpretations of them, contributing to this collective map.
December 13, 2020
Today, many braved the heavy rain to join our self-guided mushroom walk. Each assigned a different starting time, participants went on their own fungal journey, discovering the fungal life present around the community centre through a series of audio recordings. We offered some chaga tea and porcini-seasoned popcorn to spark some joy during this wet and cloudy day. The self-guided walk will remain available for anyone to do on their own time. Stream the audio file here and follow directions using this street map:
While simulatuously celebrating the end of our first year as Artists in Communities, we also exhibited some art work created this year and shared documentation of our past projects.
December 3, 2020
We had a sweet time today, felting mushrooms of the neighbourhood with eleven participants, each in the confort of their homes. Each of them was assigned one of the mushroom species living along the streets surrounding the Kitsilano Community Centre. We will collect their work to create a large collective felted fungal map that will be exhibited in the window of the Kitsilano Community Centre in the next few weeks.
November 29, 2020
While people are now moslty sheltering in place, we infiltrated their homes and offered an online Mushroom ID Clinic for a large group of mushroom enthusiats. Willoughby offered a presentation on mushroom identification, which was followed by participants sharing photographs of mushroom specimens they encountered along walks, inquiring about their unique identities.
November 9, 2020
Today, we started working on our fungal map of the neighbourhood. After identifying fungi living around the community centre and consulting iNaturalist data entries that were provided by citizen scientists and mushroom enthusiasts of this neighbourhood, we chose the mushrooms we wanted to needle felt. We are looking forward to continuing this work throughout the month and creating a large felted fungal map that will be exhibited in the window of the Kitsilano Community Centre.
November 3, 2020
On a moist autumnal rainy day, a group of us gratefully followed the footsteps of T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss, indigenous plant diva and artist, walking slowly through the woods along the Vine Maple Trail, learning and experiencing the plant life of Pacific Spirit Park. We hugged trees, breathed together and talked about the traditional uses of local plants. Passionate about the beings of this place, she inspired us to live a more connected life.
October 21, 2020
A lovely group gathered in the autumn sun to learn basic mushroom cultivation skills while creating hand elements and composing a collaborative, living sculpture. We filled cotton gloves with oyster mushroom grain spawn and pasteurized sawdust, placing them in a composition inside a transparent fruiting chamber. The session was filled with engaging discussions on how fungi sense their worlds, communicate, eat and grow. The sculpture will be photographed through its growth process and the images compiled into a short time lapse video and shared here once completed.
October 6, 2020
We had a very sweet and meditative time today, joined by a group of attentive forest lovers for our Forest Movement Practice in Jericho Beach Park. We encounted Armillaria rhizomorphs, rosy conks, artist conks, shaggy parasols, deer mushrooms and earthballs, talked about mycelium, fascia, soil and skin, and moved quietly through the forest, tuning in with all of our senses.
October 4, 2020
Today, we gathered in Connaught Park, behind the community centre, to create stencils that will be imprinted by spore prints and that were inspired by a guided meditation about the mushroom life cycle. We ended our session by going for a short foray around the neighbourhood to discover and discuss some of our local urban fungi, including lichens and wood decay fungi.
September 24, 2020
A small group of us had the delight to move, meditate, write and share conversations together, embracing one of the very first days of autumn. By the golden fallen leaves of a maple grove, we explored the mycelial network underneath our feet and the fascial web of our bodies through contemplative movement, slow walks and written scores such as this one:
Notice a mushroom.
Silently or quietly speaking, acknowledge it.
Find something to offer it. This could be a gesture, a song, a poem…
Allow time to be inspired.
September 3 & 20, 2020
It’s finally mushroom season again! We organized multiple physically distanced walks in Pacific Spirit Park, looking for wonders with passionate nature lovers. Guided by our senses, we encountered a wide range of fungal diversity and concluded our sessions by sensory meditations, drawings and creative writings.
August 9, 2020
Today we joined together in a small group to observe and discuss fungi in Pacific Spirit Park. As we wove in and out of the edge of the trail, we observed many small wonders through 30x and 60x hand lenses, pondering cause and effect, parasitism and succession, symbiosis and communication, the richness imbued by language, and the false concept of the individual in an entangled world. We concluded with a sensory meditation with a surprise guest – a chicken of the woods mushroom.
July 22, 2020
Today, we spent the afternoon crafting some mushroom paper mache puppets inspired by our local fungi. It felt wonderful to connect with some lovely community members in-person for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. We had great conversations while making a king bolete, a birch bolete and two Amanita Muscaria.
June 13, 2020
As a way to focus on our bodies while the physical distancing measures are still in place, we offered an online session about the similarilties between the fascial network inside of our bodies and mycelium, the body of fungi. We explored these concepts through simple embodied exercises. We also shared a few movement scores and meditations that can be done independently in the forest.
Here is a file we recorded for you to listen to on your own time. Find a quiet place in the forest to stand for 15 minutes. Close your eyes and listen!
May 10, 2020
Today we offered a virtual fungi and art walk to the community, which included information about the patterns of the spring mushroom season, basic mushroom identification skills, honourable harvesting practices, and resources for learning about mushroom identification. We presented a video we made on the Spring Mushrooms of the Coastal Temperate Rainforest and offered an Embodied Writing Exercise for participants to do on their own in the forest. We invite you to watch the video and to try the exercise; instructions are included below.
Embodied Writing Exercise
1. Go for a walk in the forest and look for fungi.
2. Choose a mushroom and sit or stand beside it. Observe it with your senses.
– Observe it with your eyes. Notice its shape, colors, textures, the way it reflects the light, and any other details you may see.
– Observe it through touch. Notice its textures, orientation, density, temperature, and any other detail you may feel.
– Observe it through smells. Notice its scent, the scent of the earth or wood it grows from, the scent of the air around it. Notice if the smells bring back any memories.
– Observe it through sounds. Notice if you can produce any sound or vibration while touching it gently. Place your ear near the mushroom and listen. Hear the wind. Hear the birds. Notice all of the surrounding sounds, near or far.
3. Write for at least five minutes. Describe this mushroom from your embodied experience. Don’t edit yourself, let it flow.
4. Give this mushroom an original name, inspired by your experience and writing.
5. Take a picture of your mushroom and try to identify it, using the app iNaturalist, reference books and/or online resources.
6. Compare the scientific information you find about this mushroom (ecological roles, biology, edibility, medicinal properties, etc.) to the embodied knowledge you gained through observing and writing about this mushroom.
April 26, 2020
While the community centre remains closed due to the pandemic, we offered a mushroom gardening online workshop to an eager group of over 30 gardeners from around the neighbourhood. We also created a log raft inoculated with nameko mushrooms in the community garden of the Kitsilano Community Centre that will hopefully fruit mushrooms to be harvested in the fall. Responding to a desire to share our knowledge with the broader community, we created a series of videos covering different mushroom cultivation techniques, from log inoculation to log raft and shaggy mane mushroom beds. Click here to view these videos.
March 9, 2020
Today we met with the preschool kids and read two of our favorite kids mushroom books: The Mushroom Fan Club by Elise Gravel and Mushroom in the rain by Mirra Ginsberg. We sang a little mushroom song and enacted the life cycle of mushrooms through movement.
March 7, 2020
We spent this crisp morning crafting and sharing DIY mushroom cultivation techniques with an attentive group of mushroom lovers. Each participant chose a mushroom culture (turkey tail, oyster, lion’s mane, nameko, or luminescent panellus) and inoculated a jar filled with sterilized sawdust substrate. From there, they learned simple knotting techniques to create their knotted hanging mushroom jar. They took their jar home and will observe their fungi grow and fruit over the next few weeks.
March 4, 2020
Today we hosted an intimate mushroom reading circle. We spent this sunny afternoon reading about mushroom identification, DIY cultivation, mushroom cooking, natural dyes, ecology, philosophy, embodied art, and more. We shared impressions of our readings with each others, over reishi tea and porcini flavored popcorn. Here is a quote from one of the book we enjoyed:
Feb 15, 2020
We are grateful to have been sharing this rainy day with a wonderful group of mushroom enthusiasts, needle felting wildly diverse fungi with wool over lively conversations. Crafted local species included the famous Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria), a few Russulas (R. queletii, R. sanguinea), Boletus zelleri, the delicious Pacific Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus formosus), Laccaria amethysta-occidentalis, and many more.
Feb 8, 2020
We launched The Art & Fungi project this week, engaging in great conversations with the residents of the Kitsilano Community Centre. We looked at fungi specimens through hand lenses, read mushroom children’s books and enjoyed some chaga tea.