Beautiful Decay: The Artist Making Mouldy Fruit Sculptures with Precious Gemstones

Monday October 21, 2019 Written by Smith

Fresh, not at all disgusting-looking food has provided artists with inspiration since at least the 15th century BC. (That’s when ancient Egyptians started painting still lifes to decorate their tombs.) Flash forward a few millennia and you could be forgiven for thinking we’d run out of ways to immortalise the stuff. Not quite.

Enter Kathleen Ryan, whose gemstone sculptures capture fruit in various states of kind-of-horrifying, kind-of-beautiful decay. The New York-based artist starts with a foam base and adds differently sized and coloured gemstones to replicate the nausea-inducing fuzz of Penicillium digitatum, also known as green rot. “The sculptures are beautiful and pleasurable,” she told the New York Times, “but there’s an ugliness and unease that comes with them.” Which might explain why we can’t look away.