We the Living
(Conversations About Life, Death, And Everything In Between)
The Blossom Tree Project
An ongoing project aiming to use Globe’s exhibition programme to stimulate conversation about mental health, in order to dissolve taboos and raise awareness, including discussions about suicide and suicide prevention.
The topics of suicide and mental illness are difficult to broach, but either directly or indirectly, at some point in our lives, they are likely to affect us all. Sadly, the nature of mental health issues and the fact that they can be challenging to discuss means that many will suffer in silence rather than get the help they might need. But when we face the facts – such as that suicide is the biggest killer of men between the ages of 20 and 49 – it becomes clear that action is needed to break the silence and dispel the stigma surrounding mental health.
The Blossom Tree
is a progression from our project, We The Living, (original working title Thirteen+). In partnership with Launchpad and VOLSAG, the project aims to open up conversations about suicide and mental health. Globe and House of Objects have put together a unique interactive project in which trees will “blossom” before your very eyes.
The project involves taking trees to venues and events where discussion about mental health is occurring, or encouraged, and teaching participants to write a personal message on a ribbon, fashion it into a blossom and hang it on a tree. The message is thus obscured from view; this allows participants to freely express their feelings in a manner which is simultaneously private and communal, in a safe and non-judgemental space. The whole exercise acts as a catalyst for conversation and individual catharsis.
Trees are a symbol of life: of both physical and spiritual growth, of both sturdiness and transience. Blossoms are associated with the coming of spring, and their arrival brings joy to people all over the world. But their beauty is short-lived; not unlike our own human experience. The Blossom Tree is a work which acknowledges this impermanence and celebrates the beauty of our lives, allowing people to express themselves in a manner which is simultaneously private and communal. Once in bloom, The Blossom Tree serves as testament to the fragility and preciousness of our lives. Its message is an important one: through love, solidarity and strength, we the living can face our own transience.
Globe hopes to bring this project to the wider community, transporting The Blossom Tree from place to place to connect with as many people as possible. So far, the project has been showcased at the Eldon Square Public Engagement Day, Mental Health Market Place event held in the Discovery Museum, with students during Freshers’ Week at the University of Northumbria and at Globe during the Late Shows, the Block Party, Eldon Square Staff training and Newcastle Mental Health Day. As well as the above we have taken trees to a funeral of a completed suicide and a school in Newcastle where a pupil tragically died very unexpectedly. The conversations that have occurred during these events have been insightful and heart-warming and as well as the project being very public it can also offer a more reflective private opportunity for participants. Having witnessed the positive effect The Blossom Tree has had on participants, Globe is committed to its continuation and growth. We believe that by providing this opportunity for participatory art, we can raise awareness, strengthen communities, and most importantly, help break the silence surrounding mental health.