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  • Writer's pictureBurcu Çenberci

Honoring the Majestic Magnolia Tree

 50X58cm (Inclusive of trims) Shell Pigment, Gouache and 22 Carat Gold on Acidfree Cardboard.
Majestic Magnolia Tree and Meenakshi

'There is a majestic magnolia tree I visit often at the Culture Park nearby my house. Standing elegantly no matter what happens, it's been there forever. Feeling inspired by its graceful endurance, size, the texture of its canopy, I've been wanting to painting it. However the stroke of final inspiration came only during the visit of a Vedic dancer. I organized a workshop for a Bharat Natyam dance performance at a facility in the Culture Park. The dancer's lively energy, clear intellect and joy for life captivated me so much that I was over taken by a feeling of connectedness and wholeness. I had made a new friend!

Detail. Meenakshi Mudra

One day as we were chatting the parakeet in the room flew over to rest on her shoulder. Then she showed me a mudra -hand gesture- called the meenakshi mudra representing birds which is used in the dance she performs. And it turns out there is goddess called Meenakshi Devi, an invincible princess whom no one was able to defeat. There is a lovely story about her in the Vedas. Traditionally she is depicted with a parrot on her hand and there is even a very elaborately decorated temple in South India dedicated to her.

Soon after the workshop, I was hit by that final stroke and BY COINCIDENCE :) we ended up at the Culture Park once more, this time I took her to the majestic magnolia tree. And she stroke a pose with the Meenakshi Mudra against it. I was happy to witness Meenakshi Devi honoring the Magnolia tree. What a great union it was! Thus my painting was already complete in my mind.

I believe trees are both protected and adorned by their leafs; flowers, and birds are the gems set on those leafs. I guess offering of Meenakshi mudra to honor the Majestic Magnolia tree opened up my senses and allowed me to see more subtle beauty around. As you can see below the golden reflections of the setting sun against the plants started to capture my attention in one of my walks at the park. And so, the details of the painting started to unfold naturally. I was once again reminded that my day is only as mundane as my perception is and it is full of beauty when I am able to perceive beauty.

One of the unique features of this painting is, it is done with natural mineral pigments such as turquoise, malachite, lapis lazuli that are used in traditional miniature paintings. Switching from gouache to shell pigments initially was challenging, but I love the feeling of using something natural rather than artificial.

It was two days after she left, something rather pleasantly unusual happened. I was siting in the living room which faces many trees and some strange noise coming from outside captured my attention. So I opened the window to see what was going on. There were hundreds of may be even a thousand birds flying across the trees! They were so happy and so lively. I watched them fly in groups from tree to tree, simultaneously in all directions. This event might have been a mere coincidence, or they were probably migrating birds who BY COINCIDENCE decided to rest right in front of my living room. No matter what "life is to enjoy" and I feel grateful for that enjoyment.

I'd like to end this post with a beautiful Chinese proverb " Keep a green tree in your heart, and perhaps a singing bird will come." I hope there is a green tree in your heart which you water regularly, so it blooms and welcomes birds of joy!

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