‘The Blossom Tree’ is an on going 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, our aim was to open up conversations about suicide and mental health. Globe and House of Objects collaborated on a unique interactive project in which trees will “blossom” before your very eyes.
The project involves taking physical, artifical trees to venues and events where discussions around mental health are occurring. We encourage participants to write a personal message on a ribbon, which is fashioned into blossom and then hung on the tree. The message itself is obscured, allowing individuals to express themselves freely. They can retain their privacy whilst enjoying a sense of community, as their ribbons join the many other blossoms on the tree. The whole exercise acts as a catalyst for conversation and for personal catharsis.
Trees are a symbol of life, of physical and spiritual growth, of both sturdiness and transience. Blossoms are associated with the coming of spring. Their arrival brings joy although their beauty is short-lived, not unlike our own human experience. 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, 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 unexpectedly.
The conversations that have occurred during these events have been insightful and heart-warming. 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.