'Artists are gnostics, and practise what the priests think is long forgotten.' - Hugo Ball

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life © Sue Wookey

OK - I know this is a bit ambitious, but I had this sudden idea (one of those challenging inspirational flashes) of combining all the Trees I'd painted into One Tree. As soon as I had the idea I could see it complete, but working it out on paper was another matter! Sometimes the Muse can be very tricksy.

The Trees I've painted have all followed a progression. Many years ago I fell in love with a photo I saw of an 17th century Indian Chola bronze of the Tree of Life. The stylised shape haunted me and I did a painting inspired by it:

 Indian Tree © Sue Wookey
When I finally got around to working as a full-time artist, I repainted it as the Indian Tree of Life and Knowledge and this same simple shape can be seen in the centre of my new painting, like an archetype or seed at the centre of the Tree. The Tree of Life is a symbolic representation of all manifest life, the Many growing into being from the centre and source of all things, the One. Divine Being knowing and being known through the created universe.

The Indian Tree of Life and Knowledge © Sue Wookey

My next Tree was a development of this seemingly simple image into a more realistic looking Tree which I called Balance, showing the balance of opposites held in harmony. A Yin Yang where something can only be truly known in relation to its counterpoint: light/dark, sun/moon, up/down, good/bad. Without the counterpoint nothing can really exist because it cannot be held in relation to anything. Understood and held in balance these forces bring wisdom.

Balance © Sue Wookey

Balance can be seen as the second Tree in the new painting above. The third Tree is based on The Golden Seed, the Tree bearing fruit. In the Golden Seed, the fruit is shown as Suns and Moons. In my new painting I've shown it as Golden Apples. I could write a whole book on Apple symbolism! This is the Tree bearing life. Told you this was ambitious!

The Golden Seed © Sue Wookey

The final Tree is based on the World Tree, our manifest world and the most realistic Tree in the painting. The trunks of all four trees are contained one inside another and all the Trees progress outwards from the centre of the painting in a series of circles or worlds, from the Source to our cosmos. I have another Tree, the Cosmic Tree of Life, but I decided I'd put in enough Trees for one painting! Art would be so much easier if I stopped trying to paint Life, the Universe and Everything, but these Trees will keep pushing their way into the light and I am sure there are more Trees to come - though I'm really not sure where one goes from here!

World Tree © Sue Wookey

Limited edition giclee prints of The Tree of Life (and all the others) can be bought from my website at Galley Hill Art

1 comment:

Teresa N said...

Love the new tree painting!