How to befriend a tree by Ala Leresteux.
This project is inspired by the biological research connected to the ability of trees to communicate through fungal network – mycelia, or so called wood wide web. Through this network, trees can share information about upcoming danger and share nutrients with each other. Those studies are fascinating and further research might totally change our understanding of trees, their potential and role they are playing in our life. I would like to connect this scientific approach with Taoist teaching about befriending the tree and communicating with it through meditation. I think those ideas correlate in a very interesting way, one speaks about trees possessing ability to share information with each other and other about their ability to communicate with human beings. In our age of global networking, I think the opportunity of networking with the oldest beings on earth should not be missed. The project consists of series of paintings dedicated to different tree species, their role in mythology and in our everyday life. Trees always played very important symbolic role in rituals and general understanding of the world in all the cultures. The tree of knowledge of good and evil, Yygdrasil, Jian Mu – all those mythological, archetypal trees pose deep meaning and strongly affect our subconscious selves and in a way eradicate our differences. Some of works are portraits of famous trees, like the tree of Tenere – the loneliest tree on earth and Methuselah – 5000 years old pine, some depict legends and myths and in some cases my personal perception of the impact particular tree had on me.
Falling in love with the Banyan tree is inspired by the famous banyan tree of Kolkata. The banyan tree of Kolkata expanded at a size of a small forest despite that original trunk died long time ago. It made me think about the idea of falling in love, sometimes the feeling grows and expands without any connection to the object of the feeling. The feeling starts to be an object by itself, unstoppable and overwhelming as an overpowering energy of a Banyan Tree.
Sycamore trees were very important during Ancient Egypt. It was referred as a Tree of Life and the god Ra emerged from inside of it, deads were buried in coffins of sycamore wood to return them to the womb of the mother goddess. Later on, Sycamore trees where associated with Virgin Mary. I have chosen Seshat to represent spirit of Sycamore, because she is known as the goddess of wisdom, the one who keeps the record of our world history. I imagine her whispering all those endless stories to the Sycamore as I imagine Virgin Mary whispering to the Christ all the prayers and stories of pain and joy of the world.
Sybilla. The extasy of Laurel Dyptich.Ala Leresteux
Laurel or bay leaf was used to provoke the ecstasy in young Oracles of Delphi, priestesses of Appollo to make them feel one with the god. In my work, I am trying to depict the highest point of ecstasy in which, according to tradition, they could predict future. I am using the fluidity of the work to show uncertainty of future. Those two works can be put together in more than one way to reflect the multitude of possible future lines.
The tree of Tenere – the loneliest tree on Earth with its closest neighbor 400kms away from it. For hundreds of years it was a reference point for caravans but in 1973, it was hit by a drunk truck driver. The Tree of Tenere was a thorn tree, presumably of the same species of a tree from which was made the thorn Crown of Jesus Christ. The loneliness is the second reason why I unite the Tree of Tenere and Christ within my work, the loneliness in the face of great destiny to show the way for many and to die in a seemingly futile way.
Methuselah is a 4,847 years old pine tree, one of the oldest on earth. Tree which has seen rise and fall of empires, tree for which time is an endless river and each human life is just one drop.
According to Taoist belief, pine trees are the most powerful trees with the greatest healing abilities and the most powerful energy. To find Methuselah and to connect with him through meditation is not an easy task because his precise location is kept secret. But if one would be able to connect and to share information with this ancient creature, I wonder how much one could learn from Methuselah. Would one be able to accept this knowledge?