One evening when I was fast asleep in bed dreaming whatever it is we creative types dream I disturbed my then, partners sleep by sitting bolt upright in bed and saying “1000 year old tree” and then laying back down in bed again, unaware that I had said anything at all, my partner was obviously quite freaked out ( as you would be ) and made me aware of what I had said in the night to which I just chuckled. I felt I had to find this tree and visit it at some time in the future.
Taking the wrong path
It was quite a few months later when I was doing my masters degree ( teaching. I really never wanted to do this ) and was having a hard time as my university had decided to send me to a school that was shutting down ( as it was mixing with a more succesful school, yes the university didn’t really care, they just knew they had to put me somewhere so put me here. Yes I could have sued them for not looking after their student’s welfare but I believe what you give out you get back! ) so the teachers who were meant to be supporting me…weren’t.
They were loosing their job and here i was trying to come into their field, a possible competitor for their jobs in future…everything I do, i put my all into it and I don’t know what it was but we didn’t see eye to eye and they made my life a living hell and didn’t exactly make me feel like I was very competent at it..i felt terrible.
I couldn’t do architecture as there was no opportunity in 2008 in my hometown in pursuing this as a career and now they were making me feel I couldn’t do this profession either. They made me feel useless and so depressed that I was on the verge of thinking what is the point of life? Suicidal thoughts were beginning to enter my mind. I felt I had no place in the world, feeling like my talents were just going to waste. Then one day I had taken enough of these 2 teachers bullying and broke down…i couldn’t take it anymore. I felt they held all the strings and i was just a puppet for them to tease and prod. I rang into university and they suspended my course and I went the doctors…signed off sick until further notice…life had reached its lowest point for me…
A newspaper article leads us
When i broke down I rang my family, I told them how I was feeling and they picked me up. I explained what had happened and obviously they were concerned. My dad was reading the local newspaper at the time and found there to be an article about the paranormal and remembering my dream, it mentioned the 1000 year old tree in Calderstones Park (of which used to be a court-house for druids, but more strangely it is believed to be a gateway to an alternative dimension protected by a gargoyle.) I found this quite interesting, just breaking down and now this coincidence appearing. I hadn’t visited the tree yet so felt this the perfect time and my mother knew exactly where it was. So my family and I went down to the park and visited this mysterious, gargoyle tree that appeared in my dream.
When arriving at Calerstones the sun was setting and the park became dark rather quickly, creating an eery atmosphere. Having my family around me when I had been through such turmoil in my life venturing to see this tree was a very symbolic moment for me, why you may ask, well let me explain how the tree looked.
Heart ripped out
The tree had no core, its heart had been ripped out ( apparently from an explosion of gunpowder in its ancient past, something that was out of its control ) but yet buds were still growing on its ancient branches. The tree was fighting for dear life although, saying this, it wasn’t surviving on its own. Several iron rods where propping up its very large branches, without these man-made objects it may surely have collapsed and died. I felt a bond with this tree, a very symbolic changing point in my life, a point when I realized I had made a lot of wrong choices in my career path ( and possibly in my life) making me feel this sense of hopelessness and not being in control of my own destiny.
A new creative opportunity
Some time later, I decided to make a small trip to one of my favourite galleries in my hometown, the Walker Art Gallery, where I visited the John Moores painting exhibition and discovered they were looking for entries to the competition in 2010. Something clicked with me, here was an opportunity to follow my true passion, art. I knew what I wanted my message to be after experiencing such difficulties, the tree was going to be the subject of my design.
Regaining the passion
This was an exciting project, I had missed painting and drawing, even when I did architecture I was kind of moved away from my art foundation background to more of a CAD and technical drawing style which isn’t really my preference but Architecture, is in my opinion more technical than it is creative. I decided as this was a very personal art project I wouldn’t use a paintbrush, I would just used my hands, I wanted to connect my soul with the canvas and putting an object in the way, such as a paintbrush, would disconnect me from what I was trying to portray. I was trying to represent a suppressed creative soul on canvas.
Soul Tree Concept
So now you know the story, what does it all mean?
The tree itself, as stated previously has been through a tremendous amount of pain, its had its core ripped out, its seen a great deal over its 1000 year old life and this represents what the human soul has to experience. Life isn’t easy for the majority of us and this is where I believe the tree can connect on a deep level to everyone spiritually. Upon the tree in the painting are golden buds, these represent the flowers of our soul waiting to blossom. We all have a talent within us, it is whether the talents are allowed to grow that they can be shown and make the soul look more beautiful. In the foreground lay words from newspapers, words of other people. This souls tree has shed its old leaves, those of other people’s views and comments and is getting ready for the spring,to become beautiful and start its life again, a fresh.
In the background is what looks like a sunset…what you may not realise is that a sunset and sunrise can look very similar…it depends on the person’s viewpoint whether it is rising or setting. Is the glass half full or half empty? Is your souls talents fading away or being allowed to be used? It is your choice, it is your mindset.
Support helps change direction
Like the original tree, this tree is also supported by 5 rods, representing of family relations and how they support you through your darkest hour. If those rods weren’t there then the tree would not have lasted its long journey. Finally, the bars on the painting are there for a reason, like the tree, they are to protect the soul from further damage even though they look like the tree is in prison, as though the soul has no freedom, but again that is personal perception.
This painting was the first step for me changing direction in my life during early 2010 that very nearly could have ended but with the help of a close family, allowed me to strive for my dreams.