Khan has created this large-scale pencil drawing as a response to the themes raised by Miriam O’Connor’s exhibition Tomorrow is Sunday. Khan and O’Connor developed a dialogue, sharing their perspectives on grief, intergenerational responsibilities, gendered labour and subverting patrilineal succession and expectations. Khan focused on the tree which features in O’Connor’s exhibition, entitled Leylandiic, which is described by O’Connor as ‘a foundation for all the other works and approaches that inform this project, holding everything together in protective, supportive and comforting way’.
Khan observes the significance of the tree in the other artists work, where she ‘found a new companionship in the tree, which is witness to all what has happened – observing, witnessing, listening to all, silently. Its presence is a companionship to a person in grief and somehow the person has also learned naturally to share that grief with the tree, which provides her with the spiritual and physical link between the past and present with a hope for future’.
Khan’s depiction of a tree represents a solid and unchanging presence, akin to the tree of life, despite humankind’s interventions into the land. The lifespan of the tree, over numerous generations, allows it to bear witness. Khan says: ‘we come and go but trees are there to record history physically and spiritually. I believe that trees are our spiritual mentors as they become one’s silent listener, responding spiritually to one’s queries and confusions with their profound silence and their overwhelming presence as comforter and provider. Trees give us strength, wisdom, beauty, protection, redemption and bounty’.