Kurt Jackson (2014)
Mixed media and collage on wood, 60cm x 60cm.
Dr Sarah Watkinson: Research
Dr Sarah Watkinson is an Emeritus Research Fellow in Fungal Biology at the Department of Plant Sciences, where she researches the biodiversity of fungi in soils.
Her work explores cellular and physiological mechanisms of lignocellulose depolymerisation by basidiomycete fungi. She is also a poet and the inaugural Writer in Residence at Wytham Woods, Oxfordshire.
Dr Sarah Watkinson: Response
with lines from Robert Frost and John Donne
You think, as the leaves
go down into the dark decayed
and the woods drip with winter
the world's whole sap is sunk.
But buried isn't dead. You only need
a child's small microscope to see
inhabitants of this fermenting compost;
arthropods, larvae, snails and tardigrades
grazing fungal threads. A seething crowd
inhabits dark horizons underground -
layer on layer on layer of leaf-fall.
In November woods, you might hear
as if there's somebody there -
a scuffle in the litter. It's only a blackbird
tugging up a worm by one end. Think of his body
as the apex of an upside-down food-chain
ascending from the cold furnaces of fungi.
Down in the earth, their filaments melt fallen trees,
break and reclaim the woody architecture
of daylight and photosynthesis.