'The Tree of Life' Interactive Installation. Project Space 1 Midsummer Place Shopping Centre CMK As part of the 2012 Summer of Culture alongside MK Festival Fringe, Fringemk:Westbury and IF2012 Supported by Arts Council England SE and Milton Keynes Council.

Photography Courtesy of Milton Keynes Council, photographers Andra Alexander and Legge

Tree of Life - Text to accompany the works on site.

This project depicts many of the uses and ideologies associated with the symbol of the tree from a social, anthropomorphic, and artistic point of view.

The tree is an archetypal image, instantly recognisable in most cultures. It is a symbol of life, growth and nature, its importance and uses multi-fold throughout history.

Trees are an important component of the natural landscape; they also play a role in many of the world’s mythologies. If you show a child or adult in any part of the world a picture of a generic tree it is instantly recognisable.

The image of the tree has become central to my work, which examines the contexts and history of language and image through symbol.


Our global Languages, Religions, and Sciences define who we are and how we perceive ourselves. Our DNA is our physical memory.

•            Our physiognomy is based on patterns and structures but we are   essentially a molecular mass of chemicals

•            This mass is not static, it is pulsating and interconnected

•            How does consciousness arise?

•            How is it expressed?

•            Through language

•            The point in history at which written language evolves seems to be c.5000 years ago; it emerges as a phenomenon, which defines ‘history’ from ‘pre-history’

•            The basic key numbers in our biochemistry are recognised and reflected in Sciences and Religions


This project is a multimedia, multidisciplinary investigation of symbolic archetype, memory, and genetic structure, examining the relationships between alphabetic language [symbols defining abstract concepts and thought] and genetics.

The languages we use to define ourselves, be they scientific or religious, are very specific; they use abbreviations, metaphors, and codes to deliver definite messages and information to the people that understand them.

 I have focused here on the culturally shared form of ‘the Tree’. The work will develop from an installation, which uses Cartesian themes and structures into live painting/performance on site. Linking, through visual diagrams, religious and scientific ideas developed on reflective surfaces, using the metaphor of each discipline mirroring the other as well as the viewer. I manipulate the image of ‘the Tree’ and its surrounding symbolism in a traditional allegorical style in the painting ‘Secrets and Lies’ and then adapt the ‘Tree’ into diagrams most often used to depict family lineage, chronologically mapping;

·      The evolution of biological life on Earth

·      The evolution of major World Religions, excepting Southern African and Australasia

·      The evolution of the British Language

·      Genetic rRNA lineage through the ‘3’ branches of what the sciences define as ‘Life’.

 Additionally I play with the similarity of scientific and religious symbol and metaphor with the hope of discovering our shared roots and histories whilst developing a better understanding of their roles and functions in the present day.A smaller panel depicts the 4 Base Pairs, Cytosine, Adenine, Guanine and Thymine, with the symbol for the Jewish or Kabbalistic Tree of Life visually comparing their structural similarities. 

All peoples have a desire or need for a belief system, be it political or religious, yet there is little unity between cultures throughout the last 5000 years. Archetypes provide the common ground for language between cultures. The earliest languages focused on archetypal symbols such as ‘Sun’, ‘Moon’, ‘Woman’, ‘Man’ and ‘Tree’.

Within our genome lie patterns, routines, dualities, and complexities. These multitudinous patterns connect us all through the ecosystem of our planet. Similarly, all cultures attach specific meaning to significant or ‘religious’ numbers and patterns. Surprisingly these appear to be echoed in our biochemical structure. Example, the number 4: 4 stations of the cross, 4 winds, 4 elementals; earth, air, fire and water, 4 Archangels, 4 limbs, 4 parts of the brain and the four protein chains which form our DNA; A, C, T and G.

Why the commonality? How do these metaphorical similarities arise? In nature we find visual patterns or shapes which repeat themselves over and over again e.g. the circles of the iris, ripples on water, hexagons of beehives, the symmetry of limbs and in the rhythms of the pulse, locomotion and music.

Over millennia, through memory we have recognized and attributed meanings to these patterns and turned them into symbols through which we have developed systems for counting, speech, and language.