Cortinarius archeri

I first came across this species as it featured on the front cover of one my favourite fungi library books that I borrowed for this project – ‘Fungi of Southern Australia’. This book is so beautifully illustrated by Katrina Syme, I could spend hours just looking at the paintings.

This fungi species can be found in lots of places all around Australia, often in the litter of eucalyptus forests and woodland. When the fruiting body first starts growing, the cap is a more convex shape, but as it matures, it flattens and broadens out. They are a beautiful violet colour, which is quite intense to start with, and then become increasingly browner. The gills are lilac to pale brown, with the spores being a yellowish brown.

It’s also a mycorrhizal fungi species. Now instead of my trying to explain what this means, here’s a really helpful short video to explain:

So Cortinarius archeri is mycorrhizal and forms close relationships with eucalyptus trees!

For this painting, I wanted to include the environment you might find this fungi growing in. Corinarius archeri has been found growing under brown stringy bark in the Lofty Ranges, so that’s the inspiration I used for the setting on this painting. I like to incorporate elements of abstraction into my paintings sometimes, and wanted to give the feeling that this fungi was all a part of a larger ecosystem – hence the composition that you can see forming where there are sort of concentric circles – with each layer featuring different parts of this little slice of biodiversity. I don’t know if that all makes sense – but it made sense in my head when I was putting the painting together!