Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Inspired by Tim Burton’s Marvellous Magical Mushrooms

Official Movie Poster for Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland

Inspired by Tim Burton’s Marvellous Magical Mushrooms
Tripping through the Settings of his"Alice in Wonderland"

Viewing the ads and the trailer for Tim Burton's new Alice In Wonderland, I marveled at the gigantic mushrooms that were evident in many of the publicity shots. I recall as a teenager in the
1970s how mushroom motifs were so popular in design. They could be seen on shirts, jewelry, kitchen accessories, and such things. I’ve noted that the motif seems to be coming back, likely due to a certain nostalgia for the 70s, similar to the shades of avocado green and harvest gold that also appear to be making a revival.

But apart from the swinging pendulum of fashion, the mushroom speaks to our longing to be close to nature. Floral motifs are a constant in every country and historic period; we are drawn to their beauty. But mushrooms are more discreet and don’t always attract with brilliant colour. Living in a dense urban metropolis, I’ve always been enchanted by these emblems of the wild where there is no traffic, pollution, crowds, or noise. Years ago I began collecting small ceramic
mushrooms at flea markets. I later learned more about what I was collecting, and read the inscriptions on the bottom. They were made my the Lorenzen Studios in Nova Scotia. They are accurate, correct models of actual species of wild Canadian mushrooms. I am always intrigued by their esoteric Latin names. I recently learned that these are much sought after and that Dalhousie University has an extensive collection of these beautiful pieces. The largest collection is at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural history which has 400 different models of the Lorenzen mushrooms. Lorenzen pieces are also at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, and the University of Victoria.
Vintage 1960s Lorenzen ceramic mushrooms

Lorenzen ceramic mushrooms

If you are fascinated by the mysterious mushroom, one might find others in the flea market:

Vintage Erzgebirge wooden mushrooms

A vintage silk scarf with mushroom motifs

Detail from a pair of 1970s embroidered Levi jeans

Of course, the motif doesn’t have to be hippy with funny funghi. Fine 18th century botanical paintings and engravings are brought to mind in these modern reproductions of the Flora Danica porcelain service by Royal Copenhagen, a service that was intended as a gift to Catherine the Great of Russia:

Next time mushrooms sprout on your lawn, take one and examine it very closely, and imagine you have become very tiny like Alice, and have your own Burtonesque view of the marvelous mushroom.
Vintage circa 1960s ceramic mushrooms, Lorenzen. Frog figurine, Nymphenburg Porcelain.


Flora Danica fungi plate, Royal Copenhagen, http://www.royalcopenhagen.com/Dinnerware/Flora-Danica-Fungi.aspx
© 2010 Square With Flair™


  1. Hi...
    1) Can't wait to see Alice, even though the reviews aren't great.
    2) Love Royal Copenhagen!
    3) I am terribly jealous of your wonderful photography!

  2. What delightful little treasures - both flower
    children from Erzgebirge, and mushrooms from
    Nova Scotia. Added essentials on the antigue
    fair list! Thank you, Mr Square with Flair.
    from Louise

  3. Beautiful pictures - entranced with the
    porcelain, and all the miniatures.
    looking for more...