While living in the USA in the seventies I discovered an old art form which consisted of painting on shelf fungi (ganoderma applanatum, which grow to a very large size in the forests of the Eastern US). The oldest example I saw was of naive art dated 1890 so I knew they lasted once taken from the tree and thoroughly dried out.

This image is created by taking a burning tool and burning through to the layers under the clear pale surface, which gives the piece its colours.

These particular fungi were also used by Eastern US tribal peoples, under their rain skins on their shoulders to hold the garment off in rain and prevent soaking, and as fuel for fires which would be lit at the head and feet, smouldering all night and warding off stinging flies and insects.

I supported myself by burning into these fungi and designing leather waistcoats, pouches and belts which I also burned.

I also paint but my real love is writing and I am about to publish my second book coming out of my second visit to New Mexico USA last year. My first visit to that extraordinary place was in 2005 after which I wrote and published my first book, The Cleaning Lady and The Singing Cowboy.

I moved to Glastonbury in 1998 and support and cherish my two cats Maeve and Plato (currently aka Mr. McPhee), and The Phoenix Project.

Gillian Booth