Ms. Ricarda McDonald, the person in charge of the local office, is a tough and passionate artist who always has a smile on her face. In March 2001, the seedling arrived safely in Vancouver, Canada and was temporarily planted in a pot.
On the 10th of May 2001, Ms. Ricarda McDonald conducted the workshop for 29 students in the 6th and 7th grades of Fromme Elementary School. She introduced them the Kaki Tree Project and they wrote haiku about the persimmon tree and made Origami persimmons together with the help of Motoko Ogawa, a Japanese woman who lived there. Although at that time the seedling was planted in a pot, it was full of life and seemed to be even ready for producing buds.
The tree planting was originally planned in March 2002 and with the efforts of Ms. Ricarda it was finally concluded that the Margrave School to be the planting site. However, it was postponed due to the school’s busy schedule with other events. The tree, in the meantime, was kept at a local gardener. After many twists and turns, Ms. Ricarda’s efforts paid off and the tree planting ceremony was going to be held at the Margrave School in March 2003. Yet again, it was postponed until 16th of May due to the Iraq War that broke out in March. The executive committee member from Japan who planned to attend the ceremony had difficulty traveling and in the end could not attend the ceremony. Also, Motoko Ogawa, who cooperated with the project from the very beginning, passed away due to illness. On the 16th of May 2003, the day of tree planting ceremony, Motoko’s friends participated in the ceremony and the tree was at last able to take root in West Vancouver.
In June 2005, we visited Margrave School when we participated in the tree planting ceremony at Collingwood School, Canada. Our visit this time was accompanied by the family members of Motoko Ogawa and the executive committee member of the project who was also a friend of Motoko, and all of us could deepen our friendship with Ms. Ricarda. The tree is planted in a sunny place and is growing steadily.
Georgia is situated in the Caucasus region of West Asia, an important strategic spot on the Silk Road where exchanges among various ethnic groups happen since prehistoric times. It is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north and east by Russia, to the southeast by Azerbaijan, and to the south by Armenia and Turkey. It is a wine-producing country and is also well-known as the birthplace of wine.
The artist from Gloucester, UK, Mr. Bruce Allan (who carried out the Kaki Tree Project on the 15th of March 2002 in Gloucester, UK) and Novvy introduced the project to Chiko in Georgia, and that was how the project was expanded to Georgia. Chiko and Marina Khatiashvili applied for the project.
The planting site is located on a small hill, 600 meters above sea level, and is very close to the Children’s Center, a facility for orphans. Everyone was waiting for “the seedling from the bombed persimmon tree” from Japan and the photos taken at the airport when they had received the seedling were immediately sent to us via email.
The children at the center, who lost their parents when they were very young and had hard days, worked hard to make the ceremony wonderful. The children rode on a cart that was drawn by a thin horse and they also put dozens of seedlings including the seedling arrived from Japan as well as a brown goat whose big eyes were staring at the children and a couple of big husky dogs on the cart. Then they marched down a few miles singing together from the Botanical Garden to the planting site, Mtskheta, which is located outside of Tbilisi. A friend who was carrying a small donkey also joined them on the way. The children who were the brass band members tried very hard to play the used tubas and trombones with their tiny bodies. The event was innocent and full of energy being surrounded by the blue sky with a hint of a milk color, the gray mountains and Jvari Church that sits on the hill. (A partial excerpt of the report by Anthea, the person in charge on site)
At the tree planting ceremony, Mr. Mamuka Japharidze (an artist who exhibited at the Georgian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 1999), who was the local person in charge of the Kaki Tree Project, conducted the workshop for children.
Mr. Jaap Bremer of the Kröller Müller Museum visited Japan in July 2000 and informed us that they were keen to participate in the project. That was how the Kaki Tree Project at the museum started.
The Kaki Tree Project participated in the exhibition “Ikiro/Be alive, Contemporary Art from Japan 1980 until Now” at the Kröller Müller Museum, which was held from 7th of April through 8th of July 2001. Though the seedling that was displayed at the exhibition was to be planted in the ground of the sculpture garden in March 2002, it became weak due to change in environment, so the museum reconsidered the time of planting. After taking a good care of it for one year, the official tree planting ceremony was held in March 2003.
The tree planting ceremony was held in conjunction with the festival to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Van Gogh. In the beautiful weather, Mr. Piet de Jonge and Mr. Eddie Morren, who were in charge of the persimmon tree at the museum, invited Japanese families and planted the tree in a very good place in the sculpture garden.