Dr Ann Bell is a mycological artist and also a cartoonist. She was also my mentor and supervisor during my post-graduate studies. While Ann’s artwork can be found in her taxonomic papers and books her cartoons are more ephemeral. During my time as her student, I collected a few of cartoons that had a mycological flavour.
The first one featured on the Department of Botany’s (Victoria University of Wellington) annual Prospectus from 1978 until 1988. It features the staff and their teaching and research interest. Down in the bottom corner is someone studying an Amanita muscaria. Who would have known when I started studying botany in 1978 that I would work on Amanita for my PhD.I first worked with Ann for my Honours’ project on dung fungi. At this time Ann was working on her dung fungi of New Zealand book which was published in 1984. She illustrated the passage of the dung fungi spores through a sheep like this: In 1986 the first New Zealand fungal foray was held at Kauaeranga Valley in the Coromandel. Ann drew this cartoon of the identification process to celebrate the Foray and Dr Barbara Segedin’s birthday. The full A4 sheet has all of our signatures. Ann later redrew a portion of the “identification process” to illustrate a short report of the Foray in a newsletter.
She also drew this grumpy little elf to illustrate the advertisement for the 1987 foray in the same newsletter.Sometime in early 1988, I gave Ann a portion of my PhD manuscript, as a dot matrix printout, to read along with a pile of photographs that were referred to in the text. This was also before scanning of photos was available. The printout came back with Ann’s annotations, corrections and this little fellow who I have come to know as “Russel the Russula spore”. I have included here the SEM (scanning electron microscope) photo that was the inspiration. In 1988 Barbara Segedin retired from the Department of Botany at the University of Auckland. As a retirement gift “A Memorable Mycological Miscellany” was produced. Ann contributed three cartoons. The first had Barbara ranking the three most important things in her life. Note that Cecil was her husband and he was from Yugoslavia.
The next was a troop of helmets or Mycena. I like the German imagery of Mycena as helmets rather than the more English image of bonnets.And the last was “the romantic love story of Mucor”. I have also included Ann’s more scientific drawing of Mucor from 1984. The curtain dropped for the Botany Department at the end of 1988 as it was rolled into a larger School of Biological Science. Ann illustrated the School’s new prospectus but these did not include any fungi. It did include a moss and some feral knitting: The beginning of 1989 marked the completion of my PhD and Ann’s cartoon of students completing their degree sums it up. Although in Ann did remind us not to let it go to our heads (in Green, 1979). If anyone one knows of any other mycological cartoons Ann has drawn please let me know so I can include them here.
Department of Botany, Victoria University of Wellington, Prospectus. 1978 to 1988
Green W, 1979. Focus on social responsibility in science. The New Zealand Association of Scientists.
School of Biological Science, Victoria University of Wellington, Prospectus. 1989
Systematics Association of New Zealand, Newsletter 27, December 1986