One woman wants Britain to get a different kind of tree this Christmas [TWEETS]

Support us and go ad-free

A new T-shirt campaign from the woman behind #WearYourNHS is encouraging people to get a different kind of tree this Christmas, with the help of internationally-acclaimed artist and activist Ai Weiwei.

Dr Lauren Gavaghan, a psychiatrist in London, spearheaded the #WearYourNHS campaign earlier this year in support of junior doctors. She enlisted Vivienne Westwood to design T-shirts, which went down a storm with celebrities, activists and the public.

Now, she’s turning her hand to another issue close to her heart – the refugee crisis.


Gavaghan says that her motivation for starting ‘RefuTree’ is “reframing the concept that the world has of refugees”. She has long been inspired by Ai Weiwei’s work and life story, and says of his sculpture Tree:

The sense of peace I experienced in its presence reminded me of my favourite African tree, the iconic Baobab. … There is an African fable that describes God, in anger, pulling the Baobab up by its roots and re-planting it, upside down. …

This caused me to reflect on what it means to both nature and a human to be uprooted, to be broken down into pieces and then put back together again. ‘Tree’ signified growth, potential and possibility.

Tree is created from many different pieces of various species of tree collected from Ai Wewei’s homeland, China. He has said of it:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

my work is always ready-made. It could be cultural, political, or social, and also it could be art – to make people re-look at what we have done, its original position, to create new possibilities.

It is exactly this which guides the RefuTree concept.

Life’s patchwork

Ai Weiwei designed the T-shirt from his studio in Beijing after Gavaghan got in touch with him.

She says of the design:

in his recreation of Tree, these grey dried out tree pieces blossomed into a striking patchwork of bright and contrasting colours.

Gavaghan compares this to the “patchworks of colour that people’s lives become, where even the dark patches add to the overall beauty”. She continues:

this explosion of colour spoke to me of potential, hope, growth and most importantly life.

It is about a re-making, a re-creating, a re-writing of the narrative and a bringing together of the pieces to make the whole again.

It is for this reason that she settled on the name RefuTree. She says:

it is about creating something new and different out of the already known, the familiar, which often becomes imbued with expectation / connotation.

Funds raised from the campaign will go to support the work of Médecins Sans Frontières

Get Involved!

– Read more about the RefuTree campaign, and get your T-shirt here.

– Read The Canary’s coverage of the refugee crisis here.

Featured image via Charles Hutchins

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed