A local artist will take the spirit of Natick’s hopes and dreams for the Class of 2020 and turn those good vibes into an art installation at Natick High School. Rebecca McGee Tuck on Wednesday will put in place a “Clootie Wishing Tree” at the school as a visually stunning way to send collective thoughts along with the grads, wherever it is they may go.
The inspiration for the project came from what is known in ancient Celtic tradition as a “Clootie Well”. Considered a holy place, pilgrims would travel to these wells in the belief that their waters held healing powers. A tree typically grew beside the wells, and its branches were used as a repository for strips of cloth or rags as part of the healing ritual. The spontaneous collective memorials became a representation of pilgrims’ prayers or wishes. In Scottish Gaelic, a clootie or cloot is a strip of cloth or rag.
During the installation, volunteers will write community members’ messages on strips of cloth. (Here’s how to contribute your positive thoughts.) Volunteers will then tie the wishes to the branches of the tree. The idea is that the tree festooned with the handwritten notes will symbolize the power of collective thoughts.
Supt. Anna Nolin will use a selection of the wishes during her commencement remarks. NHS graduation will take place on Thursday, Aug. 6, at 6pm at Memorial Field.
The Clootie Wishing Tree is more nomadic than most trees. Created as a site-temporary piece, the tree has made its most recent Natick appearance in 2018 on the Common as part of the Creative Placemaking Weekend hosted by the Natick Cultural District. The Wishing Tree has also taken root in Boston and Concord.