The Tree of Lost Things is a participatory installation made of loss. We ask people to write something they have lost on a luggage label and to tie it to our tree. We have over 6,000 losses in our growing repository of stories. Lost toys, hope, faith, watches, virginity, dignity, children, lovers, marriages, keys and body parts are just some of the items we have 'collected' over the years. 


The Tree is a meditation on the nature of loss, how loss shapes us and makes us who we are. No matter the scale of what has been lost, the space left leaves room to grow. 


The contributions to The Tree range from the heartfelt, to the somber, to the weird, to the ridiculous. There is no order to the losses, this is not a library, they are ordered only by the hands of the contributors. The owners of the loss decide if their heart should sit next to some marbles, or a pair of swimming trunks! The juxtaposition of these losses creates its own poetry, spelling out the breadth of human experience and healing.


Some people write one word, others feel the need to explain the details of their story of loss. Essays are penned on some labels, the story still evidently so alive in the memory of the contributor. Everything is allowed here, we do not censor the losses. What is evident in so many of the contributions is people's capacity to find hope in the face of loss. One label reads "I lost my left breast, but I also lost the cancer".


The Tree has been to Latitude, Secret Garden Party, The London Word Festival and Cambridge Folk Festival. It has also grown in Battersea Arts Centre's marble foyer over the Christmas season and in the damp and dark of The Old Vic Tunnels Red Light Nights. 

Photo: Jemima Yong

Photo: Jemima Yong

Photo: Jemima Yong