Cosmic Tree

by Tessa Laird

The Kauri Project Poster Series (2014)
archival print, edition of 50
420 x 594 mm
unframed - $230
framed with white wooden frame - $420


The Tree of Life is a pan-cultural symbol that occupies a central role in various cosmologies as the giver of life and the font of knowledge. This design references a few of those traditions, including Yggdrasil, the cosmic tree of Norse Mythology; Nookomis Giizhig, or Grandmother Cedar to the Ojibway of North America; and of course, our own Tāne Mahuta, who brought us into Te Ao Mārama, the world of light. The Tree of Life sustains ecosystems – in Aotearoa, Kauri provide roosting habitats for our endangered native bats (pekapeka). The Tree of Life provides potent symbolism, reminding us to be grounded and strong while still reaching for the stars. Trees of Life are celebrated in the Árbol de la Vida candelabras of Mexico, as well as the Menorah of Judaism. Here, lighted candles also reference the pagan tree worship of Old Europe, which lives on in the Christmas tree tradition. These candles are both a celebration of the life force of New Zealand Kauri, and mourning for the ongoing loss of these gentle giants. Unless we can reawaken our ancestral reverence for trees by placing them back at the centre, not just the margins of our lives, we may lose them forever.

Tessa Laird is an Auckland-based artist, writer and lecturer. She recently completed her Doctorate of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland, looking at the revolutionary potential of colour, including the psychedelic poster art of the 1960s. In 2013 Tessa’s book of fictocritical writings on colour, A Rainbow Reader, was published by Clouds.

The Kauri Project Poster Series Contemporary artists and designers Charlotte Graham, Philip Kelly, Tessa Laird, Natalie Robertson and Haruhiko Sameshima have been commissioned to produce new works addressing the social, cultural and historical value of the kauri tree, one of our most beloved native species, in the face of the threat posed by kauri dieback disease.


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