Trees are a universally significant part of the human consciousness, and our connection to trees has been celebrated in language, mythology, and folklore long before their scientific and environmental values were proven. Niall Mac Coitir, author of ‘Irish Trees – Myths, Legends & Folklore’ says that our fascination with trees is not just because they are objects of beauty but also because they are “living beings that breathe and grow and struggle to survive and recreate just as we do ourselves”. Considering the ancient Celtic Tree Alphabet known as the Ogham alphabet, the protection of trees under Brehon law, and the ancient Celtic beliefs in the sacred, healing, and magical properties of trees, we can decipher trees are undoubtedly an integral part of the cultural landscape of Irish history.
The project I have conceived for the BioMarin commission is inspired by an ancient Celtic tree planting tradition. It is known that when the ancient Celts formed a new settlement, they planted a tree in the center they called this tree ‘Crann Bethadh’, meaning ‘Tree of Life’. Crann Bethadh served as an integral and sacred part of the community and provided a sheltered place of assembly for important meetings to be held. The work I am proposing for the BioMarin commission embodies the poetic essence of this ancient act.
A percentage of the commission budget will be donated to Crann Trees for Ireland, Irelands National Tree Planting charity. The donation will provide 1200 saplings in support of community tree planting initiatives in Ireland such as the Giants Grove Rewilding Project and the Easy Treesie Project, a project that aims to help a million schoolchildren on the island of Ireland to plant a million trees by 2023 to reach the “Plant-for-the-Planet” challenge.
This gesture will resonate as a potent and meaningful effort, which represents BioMarin’s laying of roots in Ireland, it’s future growth and resilience and most importantly it’s unwavering commitment to improving the lives of their patients, staff and their local community.
The symbolism behind the act of tree planting will be metaphorically represented as a large-scale wall mounted sculptural installation - ‘The Giving Tree’. The Giving Tree will consist of a multitude of interconnected solid bronze discs. Each circular disc will be individually hand stamped to represent each tree planted. The debossed bronze discs will serve as a contemporary interpretation of the Celtic Tree of Life emblem, which features a majestic tree enclosed by an elaborate circle symbolizing continuity, strength, health, wisdom, and unity. The bronze discs also reference the identification tags commonly found on mature trees. The discs will be connected to create undulating formations and clusters extending across the surface walls. Although open to interpretation the work will resemble a cellular or rootlike formation representing the synergetic system of interconnectedness at the heart of the concept.