Life & Culture

Watch a Film About a Psychedelic Trip to the Woods

Coinciding with a new exhibition at Somerset House on fungi, Elisha Smith-Leverock and Another Man’s fashion editor Reuben Esser present new film, Mushrooms

Mushrooms are “a signifier of the weird, the magical, the unknown”, according to Francesca Gavin, the curator of a new exhibition at Somerset House which looks at fungi’s colourful cultural legacy. Open now, this exhibition features contributions from over 40 leading artists, designers and musicians, including the talented director Elisha Smith-Leverock who created a short film (aptly titled) Mushrooms.

Based in Berlin, and an ambassador for Free The Work as well as a director, Smith-Leverock was approached by Another Man’s sister site NOWNESS to make this film, which follows two people’s psychedelic trip (pun not intended) to the woods. Speaking to the other artists featured in the exhibition, she says her “understanding of fungi and just how multifaceted it is as an entity grew, in turn inspiring the layered and textured approach to the film both narratively and visually”.

Styled by Another Man’s fashion editor Reuben Esser, the resulting film borrows from video-collage culture or ‘video murals’, as well as the world of psychedelia and psychedelics. Here, speaking in her own words and alongside a series of exclusive stills from the film, Smith-Leverock introduces Mushrooms.

“The overarching narrative of this film follows two psychonauts on a trip to the woods, with visual layers introduced via mixed media as well as soundbites of interviews with artists and academics, used to convey the significance and extent of the mycorrhizal network that underpins our ecosystem.

“I think it is very good timing as we are in the middle of a psychedelic renaissance with microdosing and all. The best thing about it though is the broader focus of the exhibition. I think Somerset House and Francesca Gavin have done an amazing job of going beyond the obvious and really looking at what we as a species can learn from mushrooms and fungi relating to all aspects of life. Beyond what I picked up on the film, the focus on areas like sustainability and mental health were particular points of interest to me.

“I am still only scratching the surface with mushrooms. Having the opportunity to learn more about them was part of the allure of this project for me. Just a couple of highlights of the things I learned were that mushrooms have over 20,000 sexes and that the Cordyceps fungus turns ants into zombies with the sole purpose of spreading its spores, and also that the biggest living organism on earth is a fungus.”

Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi is at Somerset House until April 26, 2020.

Elisha Smith-Leverock is part of Lief, a female-led creative content studio, which promotes and celebrates inclusivity, creating new culture-defining work with exceptional uniquely diverse filmmakers.