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  • Writer's pictureSuzy Costello, workbooks

Week 9, 18-22 May 2020

Held the collaborative St Alban's art project on Saturday, received Formative Assessment feedback and revisited Fine Arts Research presentation for next week.


Photography by Evan Davies

Feedback from Carolyn Parker, one of the participants ...

It was a privilege to be part of Suzy's art project today.

She had made careful preparations to ensure the smooth running of this part of the project, which was completed on a beautiful calm autumn morning.

We met and were greeted in front of the church - the designated space.

The area was strewn with pohutukawa stamens which we were encouraged to smell and feel then strew gently on the ground. She had collected and cared for these during a period of several months.

She then brought forward her hand made stools which she had crafted from some of the recently felled trees and these were placed in a circle on top of the red stamen carpet.

When we were all seated, Suzy invited us to share our memories associated with this space. She had prepared a series of questions to lead our reflections which she made available beforehand, to give us sufficient time to consider.

Much was shared about the passage of parishioners to and from worship and activities under the trees (which continued to grow and shelter then sadly, shade ..) through to the church, involving many generations.

The main events of births, marriages and deaths were spoken about with their appropriate ceremonies, photographs of some taking place in the area where we were now sitting.

These recalled memory pictures, different for each participant, were strong and life changing. Parish and community life was celebrated and the people who had come and gone and stayed.

The opportunity to share about the disruption caused both by the closing of the church and the felling of the trees was very valuable, as being able to express some of the ongoing grief is effective in the grieving process.

It was wonderful to be part of this pohutukawa journey prepared with such care and attention to detail and I commend Suzy for this opportunity to participate.

With gratitude

Carolyn Parker These are photographs from the day. All photography by Evan Davies

Feedback from Jutta Chisholm, participant When Suzy first described her project I was made aware of the general feelings of loss I was harbouring with the closure of the church which the trees had once framed.

I was able to acknowledge a feeling of life's impermanence, a lack of control perhaps……

that both man made and natural structures will all one day return to the earth..

much like ourselves…

especially in the climate of cove-19… and how quickly change comes upon us all.

The project gave me space and permission to openly grieve these losses.

The trees became a more general symbol of loss and how necessary it is for healing to make room for the non judgmental sharing of our memories and the importance of being heard.

Only then are we truly able to move on and plant new saplings and be ready to celebrate, or even just to come to terms, with change.

Suzy’s pohutukawa project approached the subject of loss, change and adjustment very gently and honoured not only the life of the two majestic trees but also the emotions of those whom had lived under,around and with them .

I was made aware of how, as we gathered, we were given the time to both mentally and physically centre our focus on the trees, by scattering the red flower stamens on the ground under which the trees had once stood,

and the time to contemplate our own stories seated on stools crafted from the sawn branches of the trees,

before sharing our memories with others in the circle.

This allowed us to connect to both our own feelings and to the feelings of the other participants,

so that there was a very real sense of honouring the life of the trees AND the other participant’s experiences.

It was a very holistic, healing and memorable experience.

Feedback from Eastbourne resident... Thanks for sharing! Wow what a heartfelt project and ceremony.. it looked like a memorial service, just beautiful! So many years of living and giving, yes! Nature asks for nothing in return but quiet contemplation and reverence. 

I was wondering where the wood was going from those trees, it was around the church for a long time.  Just perfect that you made wee stools. 

Thanks for the opportunity to have a bit of input, I am so happy that you took the time to gather the memories, that the remembrance took place and that the trees were honoured in this way. 




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