In this post, we take a deeper look into what inspired Margit Hideg to bring the community of Kanata together for this year’s Neighborhood Arts 150 Project “The Wisdom of Trees”. Margit Hideg is a Cantley-based Hungarian-Canadian, an artist, designer and educator. Here, she explains how nature has always fueled her artwork and the deeper connections she hopes participants will make through the workshops.
When did you first feel the parallels between nature and people?
One of my greatest inspirations is artist Pablo Neruda who said: “I always felt myself stifling as soon as I left the great forests, the timberland that drew me back like a mother…My life is a long pilgrimage…always returning to the woods of the south, to the forest lost in me.”
By listening and living close to nature since my childhood, I studied nature in order to communicate in profound, artful ways. I have developed the ability to look for and recognize the interconnectedness of all things in life. I have learned to follow nature’s example in order to free up my true nature, my true identity. Because Art-making is something that runs deep within my nature, creativity is the one constant and reliable means of transport on my journey of self-discovery.
My previous artworks have been based on how nature copes with disaster and humans deal with illness. During my sickness, my creative process became a healing process, a ritual of many interactions between me and nature. In the inseparable processes of living and Art-making I aim to manage my mind in a tree-like way. To imagine that my thoughts flow through me just as the wind passes freely between branches of a tree, and to encourage my mind to be strong yet flexible as the tree that stands strong just where it is, whatever the conditions.
Because of these experiences, I have worked on displaying how nature works in such an interconnected way. My work throughout my career is made to inspire people to reconnect with nature and the community. I often worry that the mass media of this day and age creates a life of illusionary realities that disconnects ourselves from one another.
I have been reading Peter Wohlleben’s popular book The Hidden Life of Trees throughout this project. He writes of the surprising social life of trees. They communicate through roots systems and a fungi networks. Neighboring trees seem to send more support to trees they like, ones that don’t crowd the forest, and isolate others that grow array. He says through his research, it looks like trees know where their children are in the forest. Beech trees attack other species and show allegiances. Willows and poplar trees are loners and city trees struggle as they are separated from their communities.
This book helps us to look at our landscapes with added curiosity for the strong standing trees around us. When drawing comparisons, one can see differences between human morality for social life and nature – which is helpful to ponder as well.
Margit’s symbolism of the body of a tree in comparison to a person’s levels of consciousness:
- Level 1 – Roots. The origin of the tree. In our workshops we use “our roots” to symbolize where we come from both geographically, and relationally – for example one’s family can be appreciated as their “roots”
- Level 2 – Trunk, the consciousness of the plant. Here is stored the plant’s master intelligence, the blueprint of the genetic code. It is the level of self-discovery.
- Level 3 – Crown – Higher self – the spiritual teacher, the integration with the holistic organism of the landscape. In other words, the top of the tree is what is most seen in the broader picture, it soaks up the sun and is what flourishes from the healthy roots and trunk. For an individual, it is the act of re-creation, liberation and transformation through creativity.
- Branches are the vitality of the tree. If we cut the branches the tree loses the communication with the roots. In a symbolic way, this is also true for people. That’s why I include a meditation in my workshops, a mental recreation element. I want to create a bridge between branches and roots, in respect to humans, to create harmony with ourselves – this is only possible through learning to listen to our inner guidance. The language of creating this connection is not based on the rational mind. This is a new language of wisdom, peace and love yet to be developed. I encourage participants to re-focus and remove their masks and discover who they are. To cultivate personal interests and give their presence to the world.I strongly believe that the more you know yourself the more you fit in the community. For my college students I developed a self-branding exercise in order for them to discover their creativity, and uniqueness which leads to an original and authentic way of thinking.
What are your main motivations for the project?
I have been dreaming about a participatory community project, where I would have the opportunity to:
- Engage and celebrate process-oriented work
- Break down barriers to participation
- Collaborate with businesses and organizations
- Feel the interconnectedness with each other
- Reflect on how our culture and roots influence our choices in life and help us discover and appreciate our uniqueness and values similar to the diversity of the trees in the forest
To use my interdisciplinary experience in visual arts, media, installation and graphic design:
- Develop a multi-sensory project based on human-nature connection.
- Demonstrate the ways nature helps us to ground ourselves: managing our mind in a tree-like way – to slow down and tune into the language of nature, which is ultimately our source of creativity.
- Create a multi-sensorial experience through my extensive knowledge of graphic design and interactive storytelling
- Design and teach workshops and sessions based on my recent studies in Performa Masters in Education program at the Sherbrooke University.
The Theme of Trees:
- I am concerned about our growing alienation between society and nature. Trees have less and less value in a consumer society because have they are often seen as having little financial value.
- And most importantly, to celebrate our diversity in Canada through the wisdom of the trees.
With my work, I am trying to bring people back to nature. I strongly believe we need to spread the message that we have to ground ourselves like trees, in order to find our sense of self, and to celebrate the fact that we are interconnected with all species, parts of the same web of life, and therefore we are responsible for each other.
Margit leaves us with these thoughts:
Plant seeds of Joy, Belonging, Wisdom and Love.
They grow in silence, tuned with nature.
Let them hear their heartbeat, their own voice.
Slowly their creativity starts to blossom.
They become happier and deeper connected with each other.
As we delve more into the idea, it’s fun to realize truths about trees that we may not have previously considered. These are ideas that don’t naturally surface in the daily Ottawa grind, and that’s why this project designates a time to intend our minds toward these contemplations. They are unfamiliar connections amongst very familiar landmarks: Canada’s trees.
Margit Hideg, June 2017