Stinkhorn: Stink, Mushrooms and Musical Affect
The stinkhorn is a phallic mushroom that smells of rotting meat and animal faeces, a smell it uses to attract flesh-eating flies to help disperse its spores. This practice-based PhD analyses the anatomy and ecology of the stinkhorn fungus as a pretext to explore human and non-human experiences of stink, and to ask how stink can be used to think about musical affect. My research examines where these sensory experiences of sound and smell might overlap via the concept of Stimmung, a German word which has no counterpart in the English language but is variously translated as ‘mood’, 'ambience', ‘atmosphere’, ‘harmony’ or ‘attunement’.
The project also supports a new translation by Dr Caroline Spearing of a sixteenth century pamphlet on the stinkhorn by Dutch physician and botanist Hadrianus Junius (1511-1575). Published in 1564 as Phalli, Ex fungorum genere in Hollandiae sabuletis passim crescentis descriptio, & ad viuum expressa pictura, the pamphlet is the first ever publication dedicated to a single species of mushroom. My thesis will present for the first time a complete translation of the Phalli from the original Neo Latin.
My research is made possible through the generous support of the Amanda Burton Research Scholarship.
Siôn Parkinson is an artist working across music, performance, video and writing. He trained as a sculptor at Central Saint Martins and The Slade.
Siôn often works with other artists. Collaborators have included artists Ed Atkins, Bill Drummond, Lawrence Lek and Richard Whitby; graphic designers Dexter Sinister; fashion designer Matty Bovan; perfumers Arboretum; and musicians Jack Adler-McKean, Sam Annand and SHHE.
He has exhibited and performed at venues including Cafe Oto, Somerset House, ICA, CCA Glasgow, Cooper Gallery (Dundee), ChertLüdde (Berlin), Dundee Contemporary Arts, Glasgow International, Limoncello (London) and SixtyEight Art Institüt (Copenhagen). An animated film, ‘Stinkhorn’, made with Richard Whitby and commissioned by Lux Scotland, was broadcast on BBC4 in Spring 2020.
Residencies over the years have included Artquest’s ‘Going Dutch’ three-month studio residency in Amsterdam, Chisenhale Gallery, Hospitalfield House and Liverpool Cathedral. He was awarded a Jerwood Bursary in 2019 to explore classical techniques in falsetto singing.
Alongside his art practice, for over a decade Siôn has worked as an independent curator. He has commissioned and curated solo exhibitions by artists Bethan Huws, Duncan Marquiss, Hardeep Pandhal, Ilana Halperin, Lauren Godfrey, Marianna Simnett, Rachel Maclean, Serena Korda and musician Richard Skelton. He is the founder of Song Work, an audio library of workplace noise, supported by the National Library of Scotland Sound Archive.
- Sound Studies.
- Cultural history and philosophy of olfaction, particularly 'foul' odours.
- Phantom smells and anosmia.
- Fungi and slime mould ecologies.
- The early writing of Hadrianus Junius.
- MA Fine Art, The Slade School of Art, University College London, 2007-2009
- BA Fine Art, Central Saint Martins College of Art, University of the Arts London, 2003-2005