This painting is part of my Symbiont series, portraits of friends merging with trees. The Symbionts are inspired by the cracks in the pavement where trees take root, in the decay and rebirth of the world. They emphasize our interconnectedness with the other living things that make up our planet, and highlight the decisions we need to make if we are to survive as a species. In our post-industrial world we’ve lost our connection to the Earth- but today many people are looking to re-establish this connection. Green burials, having trees planted on your grave or having your ashes fertilize a tree, are an ancient concept that is newly popular; people today are interested in becoming trees after their death.
This painting portrays Ilaria merging with a yew tree. One will grow upon the ruins of another. The past and the future occur simultaneously. Yew trees are signifiers of immortality. They are some of the oldest organisms on the planet. It’s not possible to date them exactly due to their rotting on the inside and growing out from themselves, but it is thought that the oldest ones in Britain are at least 4,000 years old, and possibly much older. They were revered by the Celts, who associated them with immortality, regeneration, rebirth and transformation. They are one of the most toxic plants around- just breathing their dust in can be fatal- and yet they are life-saving- taxol, a powerful anti-cancer drug, has been made from a compound found in their bark.
Acrylic and oil