Maisie Cousins has spent much of her career trying to combine desire and decay. Speaking about her instantly recognisable images back in 2016, when she first featured in CR’s Photography Annual, she said: “I want people to want them on their wall, because what the hell is the point in taking a picture if it isn’t aesthetically pleasing?”
“But I want there to be another layer,” she continued. “There has to be something more to an image than nice colours – I want there to be something unsettling, or something that evokes a different sense other than your eyes.” Think naked bodies, beautiful flowers and phallic fruits, combined with bugs, slugs and slime.
Similarly drawn to sensuality and tactility in her work, Lucy Hardcastle is a London-based interdisciplinary designer and digital artist who creates digital rendered pieces, sculpture, set design and moving image.
The two long-time friends have just revealed their first ever collaboration, a self-initiated project titled Spora. Currently on display at Mother London, the series is inspired by “nature’s invisible and intelligent systems of continuous decay and spontaneous growth” that are often overlooked, such as mycelium, mould and spores.
While Hardcastle functioned as the project’s creative director and producer, and Cousins as photographer, the duo also worked with a number of other collaborators including CGI artist Elena Charobay, sound designer Billy Brooks and make-up artist Lynski.
Highlighting the unseen moments that are necessary for life, namely decomposition, transformation and renewal, the end results are oddly hypnotic. In Body Hug, for example, pulsating, jelly-like tentacles wrap slowly around an arm, while Tongue Moss sees a vibrant mossy substance sprout from inside a mouth.
“The combination of traditional photography and animated CGI elements has allowed us to create hyperreal hi-resolution mutations, providing a sense of unexpected enchantment,” say the duo.