Lee Mingwei creates works which forge a direct connection between the artist and audience. These connections are established via creative projects where gestures of trust, dialogues with strangers, cultural exchanges and the appreciation of others are foregrounded.
The centrepiece of the Bodhi Tree Project 2006 is a Bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa), the oldest species of tree to be depicted in Indian art and literature and sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. The sapling for Mingwei’s project was gifted by the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya (Raja Maha Temple) in Sri Lanka to the Chung Tian Temple in Brisbane, and is now planted outside of the Gallery of Modern Art. The parent tree at Raja Maha Temple grew from a cutting of the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, which in turn came from the original Bodhi tree at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, in the Indian state of Bihar. It was sitting under this tree in Bodhgaya that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, is said to have achieved enlightenment. Lee’s Bodhi Tree Project 2006 is intended as a focus for gathering and contemplation and as a work that continues to evolve in its engagement with community, memory, nature and culture.