Vanessa Aminian shares a recent discovery with us; a fabulous and magical way to talk about Big topics with Little minds…
Children see the world in a truly magical way.
They have a beautiful innocence, positivity and self-expression that fades with age when society begins to dictate our behaviour. Children can believe in magic, fairy tales, talking animals and wizards… because nothing has proven to them otherwise. They can have their imagination captured by a tale, game or even a costume, and be led off into another world of make believe….
Tuning into this precious skill to teach them core values and life lessons in a way they enjoy, means they can begin to understand answers to the big ‘WHY?’ question from an early age.
So how could you explain ‘life’ on a child’s level?
Well, I have just been hugely enlightened and inspired.
Stay with me… I am not a salesperson. I am a mother of two highly oblivious young boys.
Last week I overheard one of my monsters asking the other if Grandad just exploded and went to heaven! We feel the need to deal with some topics so delicately that they clearly just don’t get it.
Yet as soon as we try to explain anything vaguely deep to them… just when you think they are absorbing quite important information… they look at you with those big doe eyes and say ‘Yes but did you know there’s a 5th Ninja Turtle called Spike?’.
They’re never worried about not being taken care of, ever. They wave me off at school and really don’t think I’ve another thing to think about until 3.30. Or that I actually existed before they came along.
I treasure their naivety but I don’t want them to be totally traumatised when we lose someone close to us. As much as I adore to see them act as bonkers as boys their age should, I’d like them to have a little knowledge about the stuff that life generally throws at us. Whether it’s pointing at people in wheelchairs or understanding how to respect the opposite sex, often these are ‘life skills’ that school might not address.
So why have I been inspired?
In a world where technology now governs most things we do, are we in danger of losing the magic and imagination is becoming a thing of the past?
To create wonderful memories is the very essence of life, so when I came across a little piece of real magic,
I was spellbound. It’s one single object with so many layers, levels, messages and lessons in it, encouraging questions, engagement, observation, individuality, excitement and fascination.
It is The Life Tree.
A stunningly painted piece of art depicts dozens and dozens of characters at various stages of their life. But this is no ordinary painting. It comes alive with the help of a beautiful book and an app that reads out ‘verses of wisdom’ about each animal’s experience. These verses resonate on both child and adult levels.
You can stand and look at the detail on this painting for hours. Learning about each part of it by tapping on the coinciding place on your tablet or phone. (app available free from the app store, just search for The Life Tree)
The tree starts with the concept of birth at the base. It depicts the joy of a new mother and innocence of their tiny young. The website gives your way more detail about everything from their family members to favourite film! (www.thelifetree.co.uk)
From there, life’s journey continues up the tree teaching us about peer pressure, competitiveness, how it’s OK to stand out from the crowd (Larry Southworth the punk sheep), and to always follow your dreams.
It’s a really clear visual message that perseverance, positivity and strong ethics gets you ahead in life and nothing is more important than having your health, how true.
To take those you love with you by supporting them and showing them devotion.
There are characters that depict bad choices in life and a sense of possibility that you can really do ANYTHING. This is YOUR life to live.
As an adult looking at the characters towards the top of the tree, I have to admit I felt some sadness, as there are clear signs of struggling both physically and by one poor old raccoon, Rory, who loses his beloved wife (you follow the romance throughout the tree). Her spirit speaks to him from the clouds and you hope that your child will accept his loss a little better than you are!
As an artist (of sorts) myself, I could barely tear myself away from this remarkable creation, thinking of all of the scenarios where this would be a phenomenal aid for teaching disturbed, sick, deprived or even disfigured children as well as ‘ordinary’ kids, is there such a thing! Schools could use them simultaneously with the app on a large screen to appeal to all the senses and help children to relate their current situation and consider what may lie ahead.
And I almost forgot the best bit.
When you order your Life Tree, you can get it personalised with the hidden letters of your child’s name or a message, you have 10 letter spaces you can fill, one couple who adopt kids which have had a tough start to life decided on ‘We Chose You’ for their 3 boys.
The artist very subtly works each letter into various places up the tree to create a keepsake that can be passed down through generations. It even arrives with a signed (by the artist) certificate or authenticity stating that you are the pictures Guardian and you pledge to look after it until it is time to hand it to the next Guardian.
See what I mean?
It’s personalised art that almost shows the world through the eyes of a child.
A visual feast for the eyes, interactive, educational and it even bloody speaks to you!
The Life Tree team also gives £5 from every single sale to the fabulous children’s cancer charity, Joshua Tree, http://www.thejoshuatree.org.uk/ and a further £5 to the Aspinall Foundation for critically endangered animals, https://www.aspinallfoundation.org/
As I said, I am not a sales person, just a fan of marvellous new stuff that helps us to enrich our children’s lives and perhaps our own as well.
Take a look for yourself: www.thelifetree.co.uk