In 2008 David Burnett, Curator, International Art spoke with Lee Mingwei about the Bodhi Tree Project 2006.
“The sacred Sri Lankan city of Anuradhapura was established around the Sri Maha Bodhi, tree of enlightenment. The Bo-tree, which is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists, is the oldest depicted tree in Indian art and literature and it can be said that this is the mythical ‘World Tree’ or the ‘Tree of Life’ of the Indian subcontinent. For the “Bodhi Tree Project”, Lee Mingwei brought a seedling produced by the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka to Brisbane and planting it in a garden created within the Gallery of Modern Art site. In a 4 years collaborative process with the Buddhist communities in both Anuradhapura and Brisbane, this sacred Bodhi tree sapling was planted on the gallery ground on Buddha’s birthday of 2008. The Sri Maha Bodhi Tree is the direct decedent to the original tree at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya in the Indian state of Bihar where the historical Buddha and founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, is said to have achieved enlightenment. This Bodhi Tree will provide a place for children to play in coming years, offering shade and be a focus for contemplation. ” Artist Statement