The Wishing Tree: an art project involving public participation

Research Description

This project was undertaken by an artist who is particularly aware of the ethics surrounding the acknowledgement of participants and collaborators.  He creates large-scale artistic pieces that require the work of collaborative teams, and ensures that individuals who work on his projects are included in their dissemination, and are acknowledged in publications.  The project described below involved contributions from the general public.

In this project, which took place in a public arboretum, people were invited to write wishes on ribbons, which were then attached to a specific part of a specific tree.  The ribbons were wrapped around the tree, and gradually they grew into a bolus. A mould was made from the bolus and a bronze sculpture was cast. The wishes were subsequently made into a book.

Around 4000 wishes were contributed.  These ranged from global pleas for world peace and care of the environment to more personal petitions for love and happiness or material goods.  Some of the wishes were negative and named the recipients of the bad wishes. Others were very personal and sensitive.  All wishes were included in the final work.  Contributors were asked not to add their names, though many did.   In transcribing the wishes, names were removed and spelling was corrected.

Ethical Issues >>

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