Happy Arbor Day everyone! I was sitting at my desk this morning, thinking about the beauty of trees, when I remembered this blog post and it seemed like the perfect homage to Arbor Day and the beauty of foliage that surrounds us. So with that in mind… *Cue the rewind music!
“Art” is such a nebulous term. Impossible to define, although the Oxford dictionary makes a valiant attempt with; “the expression or application of human skill and imagination, typically in visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power”. Now, I’m no art expert, but I’ve always felt that art should make you stop and stare. It should challenge your assumptions of the world around you. But where do you draw the line? As a teenager I visited an art museum in Chicago. One of the installations was a string of white Christmas lights puddled in a heap on the floor. As I stood there, I tried to find the meaning, the purpose. Then I noticed the small placard which said that the installation was arranged at the museum’s discretion. Right, so someone sent the Chicago museum of art a string of lights in a box and got money for it.
That certainly challenged my assumptions about the world right there. Anyways, it seems today that it takes more and more and more extreme measures to shock and awe us. It’s not often that my jaw drops and the world stands still for a piece of art. But I had one of those moments this morning, with this award for People’s Friendship.
It’s easy to forget that we use precious gems and metals every day to make art. Tiny sculptures in platinum, palladium and gold, studded with diamonds, pearls and gemstones. It’s even easier to forget that these symbols of modern technology and design at their base level aren’t thanks to us at all. It’s incredible to remember that all of it comes from the earth. So what better way to symbolize an award for “belief in art as a privileged means to establish, together with respect for justice and human rights, true and lasting friendship relationships among peoples”, than with this magnificent sculpture.
“The White Olive Tree” was designed with purity in mind by renowned artist and theologian Agatino Cappella. The olive tree was a simple choice because of its binding ties with different cultures around the Mediterranean sea and around the world. It has long been a symbol of peace and light even since biblical days when after the great flood, a dove brought an olive branch to Noah as an offering of hope. But the platinum making up the leaves and branches is much more quietly symbolic. If you’re a long time reader of our blog, you’ll remember that platinum used in jewelry is 95% pure, so what could be better than this “precious white metal par excellence, expression of purity, incorruptibility, [and] eternity”. And then, like icing on a cake, the branches were accented with “diamonds, expression of eternal light” and purity as they are made of pure carbon.
So to create this masterpiece, the artist first painstakingly carved the trunk out of a piece of white marble.
Then, using 3,333 grams of Platinum, the branches, and each individual leaf were individually cut and molded into shape. Some branches were given the additional beautification with the addition of 3,003 diamonds totaling 366 carats. Most of the diamonds, 2,503, were Marquise in shape due to its close resemblance to leaves. The 500 additional stones were a unique round cut featuring 82 facets.
Once each branch was assembled, they were joined together with a torch.
The resulting tree is nothing short of exquisite and completely worth of its $5 million price tag.
So, who wants to start a petition to get me one of these beauties for my very own? Seriously, I’d be happy with just a small branch. No? A leaf? Darn it, I guess I’ll just have to live vicariously through photos. Like this one. All together now, “ooooooh, ahhhhhhhhhh”.