Week 2 – Why Trees Whisper – a children’s story

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Memory Palace of Trees is an ecological art practice which invites your participating to tell a story (or give some kind of information) about Trees. It is a social enquiry of how to live better with the planet and with people. You are cordially invited to tell me your story of a tree or trees. (email : niamh@niamhcunningham.com) I would love to hear from you .

Week 2 -They will not hush “它们不肯安静,叶子在我身边飞舞” 160x 110 cm
Niamh Cunningham 倪芙瑞莲 2015

Why Trees Whisper – An Estonian Legend
Retold by Anne Pellowski

Why Trees Whisper

Estonian Legend
Retold by Anne Pellowski

In the early days of earth, not long after the trees were created and humans were forced to leave Paradise to work, a man went out to the forest to cut wood. The first tree he came to was a pine tree. But as soon as the man lifted the axe he heard a voice cry out.

“Don’t strike me. Can’t you see the sticky tears that are already coming out of my body? If you hit me it will bring you bad luck.”

The man did not indeed see the sticky sap coming from the several cuts in the tree trunk, so he moved on farther into the forest. He came to a spruce tree and again raised his axe. But the spruce tree protested.

“Don’t cut me down. You will find me of little use for my wood is twisted and knotty.”

Unhappily, the man went on until he came to an alder tree. Once more he raised his axe to strike but the alder shrieked at him.

“Be careful that you don’t wound me. Whenever I am cut, blood runs from my heart. It will stain my wood and your axe blood red.”

The man went no farther but called out to God.

“How am I to get wood to make fire and to build shelter? Every tree I meet cries out and pleads that I not cut it down.”

God took pity on the man and said: “Return to the forest. I will see that hence forth no tree will talk back or contradict you.”

The man did as he was told and this time no tree spoke to him. None protested as he cut down to make shelter and to make a fire.

The trees were not happy about this. They dared not complain aloud to God. Instead, they began to whisper softly, each time a person entered their domain in the forests. If you approach a group of trees anywhere, you can still hear them softly whispering to each other. They are gently complaining about their poor treatment at the hands of humans.

 This story is repeated here, with the permission of the author, from HIDDEN STORIES IN PLANTS, Macmillan, 1990.

Anne Pellowski is an 86 year old storyteller/author based in the US who began a career in children’s literature with a fullbright scholarship in Munich followed by many years working with New York City Library. Following that she ran a children’s literacy centre for UNICEF. She now works independently traveling the world giving workshops. She has been recently featured in a documentary film.

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Week 2 artwork They will not hush” is taken from the lines of the poem by WB Yeats The Maddness of King Goll.

They will not hush, the leaves a-flutter round me, the beech leaves old…..

Irish Wave March 2015 Golden Fleece exhibition at Ying Gallery 798

The work ‘They will not Hush ” was first exhibited at Ying Gallery ,798 March 2015 for the Irish Wave group exhibition Golden Fleece. In September of that year it was collected and is currently installed at the Orthopedic Department in Huaxin Hospital , Jiuxianqiao (first affiliated hospital to Tsinghua University) alongside two other Ginkgo works.

Sept 2015 Installation event at Huaxin Hospital with Professor Wu Yu-qing President of Huaxin , Prof Daniel Porter, Irish Ambassador at the time Paul Kavanagh

Memory Palace of Trees is an ecological art practice which invites your participating to tell a story (or give some kind of information) about Trees. It is a social enquiry of how to live better with the planet and with people. You are cordially invited to tell me your story of a tree or trees. (email : niamh@niamhcunningham.com) I would love to hear from you .