A Tree of Life (2021)

By L. Philip Balfour

This sculpture, shape like a tree, was made to celebrate a 50-year birthday, it incorporates, as the trunk, a beer bottle with the recipient’s identity on it, this was actually the invitation to the birthday party, postponed due to Covid-19, as is proper.

Using the bottle as the core, the sculpture is then fortified with several branches and 50 sub-branches or leaves, representing the fifty years of the recipient’s life, the branches and leaves are use silver and gold as primary colours, symbolizing the nobility of recipient’s life. The bottle itself is partially enveloped in silver and gold thread, symbolizing strengthening relations.

Under the branches, well hidden, are four spirals, representing the continued growth of the four children the recipient continues to be, in various degrees thanks to the modern family structures, a father figure or outright a father. One in gold, to represent the firstborn, three in silver.

The base, shaped in clay, both to act as a base for stability and to represent the roots of the tree, embedded in the front, beneath the label carrying the name, is a 1971 Hudson Bay Company commemorative coin, celebrating the 1670 establishment of said company.

To cap of the tree, there is a Red Star recovered from a 1974 Soviet commemorative medal’s bar, the remained of the medal remains hanging from the branches within, this cap represents relationships, copper is added beneath, representing the appropriate alchemical symbology.

Scattered around the branches, hangs coins, badges and medals, all from around 1971, this includes a full Danish coin set, several additional Danish low denomination coins from the period, a 5-cent US piece, a commemorative badge from the Russian Ivanovo celebrating its centenary of receiving city status (1871) and several other items, all themed from either 1971 or 50. Two Goteborg commemorative coins also hang from the branches.

The tree is specifically named as “a tree of life” and not “The Tree of Life”, this tree is specifically designed, built, shaped and assembled to the life of a single person, however, every single person could have a tree like this produced, the concept itself is not unique, the person who celebrated their birthday shaped in the contents and the symbols.

The sculpture remains in the hands of the recipient.

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