My ‘Neuro-tree’ sculpture (courtesy of Dervella McNee)



What I love about having such talented friends is that they make you stuff. But only if you ask really nicely. Or nearly die.

I did both.

Our friend, Dervella, is an amazing sculpture-ess/metal worker. When she was younger, she worked in an orchard for a summer. She was struck by how it was common practice to traumatize the trees (small orchards bend the branches, large orchards slash the roots) to make them think they were dying, and therefore, bear more fruit as a survival instinct.

This, combined with my own near-death experience, was a theme in the sculpture she made for me. My subdural empyema caused paralysis down my left side for about 4 weeks, the side of the body that is controlled by the right-side of the brain, which also is believed to harbour creativity. I love the idea that out of such trauma, beauty, resilience, and creative growth can happen.

She made the trunk & branches with forged steel, which she burnt black. She made the ‘leaves’ made out of crochet, based on an image of brain activity– pathways formed by neurons firing. Dervella dipped the crochet in glue and formed the hemispheres around papier-mache until they hardened. The delicate crochet (brain) is protected and held by the strong branches (steel).

It’s glorious, magical, strong, delicate, inspiring, & such a tremendous honor to have! Thank you, Derv!


2 thoughts on “My ‘Neuro-tree’ sculpture (courtesy of Dervella McNee)

  1. I’m mesmerised by this amazing sculpture.
    I’ve worked with people with severe brain injury, maybe that’s why this hits an emotional spot -something so strong (skull /steel tree) looking after something so delicate (brain) and when it goes wrong it can have disastrous effects.
    I hope you have recovered well from your own injury.
    Each and every day we become stronger as we face challenges life puts in our path.
    Best wishes-sent in peace. Pea xx

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