Tree of Life

Mark Dion

American artist Mark Dion breathes new life into a symbolic place: Herbricht. His ‘Tree of Life’ is like a journey through the past, present and future of the Meuse Valley. The power of nature is at the heart of his artwork.

The circle of life

On this hill on the banks of the Meuse stands a six-metre-tall tree of life. Once there was a sea here, then an ice eld, and now the Meuse, a rain-fed river. Over time, plants, animals and insects disappeared and new species took their place. Within the tree you see sixteen sculptures, all related to the ecology, mythology and history of this place. Each of them tells a specific story. The Mosasaurus takes you back 75 million years, to the time of the dinosaurs. The woolly mammoth takes you back to 10,000 B.C. The Meuse Valley is now home to animals and insects such as the earthworm, the beaver, the green frog, the blue heron and the stag beetle. The buck with the silver chalice refers to the eighteenth-century legend of the Buckriders, a local gang of robbers.


Herbricht has a special atmosphere. The hamlet lies in the river’s winter bed, where the Meuse can occupy all the space it needs. During high tide, Konik horses and Galloway cattle seek refuge on this slight hill on the bank. Nature takes over, while time extinguishes the village. The last residents move away and no new ones arrive. All the more symbolic is this place for the tree of life. Where man moves away, nature and art take over.


3620 Herbricht (Lanaken)

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Accessible via the hiking and cycling route network in RiverPark Maasvallei.
By car: parking 17, 18 or 19 in Oud-Rekem. Then follow the walk & cycling signage ‘Kunst aan de Maas’


Special thanks to Limburgs Landschap and the inhabitants of Herbricht 

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Art in public space