I made a sculpture with around 12 people over two days. I also spent a day collecting materials and meeting people and coming up with ideas and what to make. I made it with the help of amazing volunteers, out of things that I found in the community, apart from 4 big poles pretty much everything else was collected from the estate or people brought it in their cars from neighbouring estates and dropped it off.
With the help of the people of Chelmsley Wood Baptist Church in Birmingham we collected loads of hand prints and bits of old wood to make a ‘Tree of Life.’ I must admit, the finished article did look a bit rough and unusual, yet overall I think it was bold and tall and quite striking. The sound of it too was quite amazing, the hand print leaves rustled in the wind, it was beautiful. Some people came along to admire it when it was finished and to look up high to see if they could spy their hand print amongst the 200 fluttering on the branches.
The highlight for me making the sculpture was asking a complete stranger to help. He stayed for a while and worked really hard in screwing in the support for the poles that formed the ‘trunk’ of the tree. We chatted over a cup of tea afterwards and it was good to hear something of his story and hopes for the community.
Yet, less than 24 hours later and the sculpture is trashed. I’m gutted. I thought that somehow it would be OK, that there were some angels standing guard over it.
Neil, the minister of Chelmsley Wood Baptist Church emailed me with some pictures.
Neil wrote some profound words in response to the Trashed sculpture.
Today, the broken world breaks back in.
I’m not surprised, I probably am a bit despondant about it. What I hate about it all is the pain and the hate that causes people to behave in this way, and I hate the way that it makes me feel about them. There’s a lot of hate isn’t there.
I was taking the pictures and this bloke (Frank) came up and said, “you didn’t think it would stay did you” and I said that I didn’t but we can’t let them win. Just because someone is going to break it down doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, otherwise we all end up locked behind our front doors and not caring about what happens outside. He got that.
So I’ll leave it there, as a witness to trying, that the tree may be broken down, but it will grow back.
The project of Tree of Life is for a year and I will keep doing lots of creative art in the hope that something of the good news can be communicated and connected with.
I also hope that the creativity in each person who is created in the image of God would become alive and questions would flow in that place as we do and encounter art together. Questions like: Is there a God? What is he like? Does he love us? How can I know him?