Olive Park, Ramat Rahel

Concepts of rootedness and disconnection which mark the complex relation of our civilization with the earth are central to the world of oppositions manifested in the sculpture’s plastic form. Olive trees, ancient symbol of strength, fertility and peace, continue their life in a transplanted and disconnected state.

Ran Morin, environmental sculptor

The park lies at an elevated and windy location overlooking Jerusalem and Bethlehem with views over the Judean desert, Herodium and as far as the Dead Sea. In preparing the park, mature olive trees were transplanted in 1987 from the experimental orchard of Prof. Shimon Lavee of the Vulcani Institute in Rehovot. Besides various types of olives that grow in Israel, there are olive trees that originate from Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, Argentina and the USA.

In the center of the park is a structure of 3 steel columns covered with basalt stone aggregate that form a triangle, sitting on a stepped platform of concrete and Jerusalem boulders. On the top of the columns, 11 meters in the air, three 80 year old olive trees are growing, supported by a customized drip irrigation system.

Part of the artistic project deals with the properties and spiritual harmonies of the number three: 3 monotheistic religions, 3 forefathers of the Jewish people, 3 Magi who came to visit Jesus, etc. The location at the edge of the desert and near a blood-stained political border connects the different elements in its surroundings and relates to more ancient periods when olive trees and plowed earth were characteristic of man’s intervention in this arid landscape.

Morin’s projects can be construed to have political undertones, mainly because it can’t be avoided in Jerusalem and the areas where he works. Personally, however, Morin tries to stay away from such sensitive issues. It’s hard though: “I am dealing with earth and olive trees and actual places where there are borders. A Palestinian once told me, ‘Okay we don’t have to fight over the land; we can grow the trees in the sky’.”

Yerushalayim shel maala, heavenly Jerusalem. If we could only bring it down to earth.


7 thoughts on “Olive Park, Ramat Rahel

  1. Carl

    Dear Shmuel Browns,

    I have just discovered your blog and have begun reading your very interesting posts.

    FWIW – I first studied in Israel in 1967(yes, 6 day war and all that) and later lived in Israel for 7 years.

    Thanks for all you are doing to bring “haaretz” to the general public!

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