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The story of the Tree of Life

Mark Reed's Tree of Life sculpture for patients, carers, family members and everyone affected by the amazing care the NHS has delivered over the past 2 years and throughout its history was unveiled at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn on 26th October 2022.

The 4.5m stainless steel sculpture was created by Norfolk-based artist Mark Reed and was commissioned by the Kings Lynn Hospitals’ League of friends for the Tree of Life Garden in the hospital. The stunning sculpture features over 2,000 coloured and shimmering leaves that can be engraved with personal messages and memories, thus raising funds for the League of Friends.  A permanent installation, the tree is sculpted from stainless steel and will be both a place for commemoration and a space for quiet reflection and even joy amongst our most difficult days.

Mark has many personal connections to the hospital as he lost his father from cancer at the QEII but also wanted the sculpture to reflect the joy and celebration of life that is experienced too, as his first son Oscar was born there 18 years ago.  

Mr Reed said: “It’s so humbling to have been part of making this piece, that will serve not only as a space for contemplation in the Tree of Life Garden at the QEH, but a brilliant way of raising funds for the Hospital, each leaf is detachable and can be engraved upon and it will be so inspiring to see the lives and loves of people expand into the canopy over time.  I have sculpted numerous features within the tree for children and adults alike to discover; with faces in the trunk and branches and creatures within it; the leaves create dappled shade beneath and the shadows of the leaves upon the ground move throughout the day, which I hope will engage the viewer and give some respite from the pressure of a hospital visit. "

“I was inspired to make my first tree after seeing the exposed windswept trees on the Norfolk coast resolutely facing incoming storms, really a metaphor for the trails of life. I was commissioned for the sculpture just before the pandemic and my feelings of gratitude to the NHS and their relentless and amazing work have been even more heightened as we emerge blinking into the sunshine after Covid”

The Tree of Life sculpture is 4.5m/16’ wide x 4.5m/15’ tall and weighs approximately 1.5 tonnes so was a real sight to behold travelling through the Norfolk countryside with a police escort on the morning of Saturday 12th March from Mark’s studio near Swaffham, through Swaffham on market day (!) to Kings Lynn.


Sculpting in metal, primarily in bronze, forged steel, stainless steel, and aluminium has been a passion of Mr Reed’s since 1995 and his sculptures are deeply rooted in themes of nature and his place within it, science, family and the passage of time. His work can be found in collections around the world, and he has exhibited extensively at Chelsea Flower Show and in sculpture parks and exhibitions throughout the UK and USA.


Reflecting on his latest work installed at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn , Mr Reed said: “It’s so great to have a sculpture in a setting that means so much to me personally, much of my work has been transported to the US and Middle East and I love having a piece here in Norfolk, in the community that shapes me. It is also a chance to thank the brilliant NHS workers like Heike Schaefer ( Palliative Care facilitator at the hospital) who has been the driving force behind the commissioning of the tree and “ just kept swimming” in ITU during the Covid crisis.

Mark Reed would also like to thank: Norfolk & Suffolk Police, Carter Haulage and Storage ( Norfolk) Limited, Laserfast Ltd, R Tech Welding, Millstock Stainless and Aalco whose help has been invaluable in the making and transportation of this unique sculpture.


Mark Reed recently created the unique art installation of Your Waves go Over Me, a 10 meter wave of 3,000 fish at Norwich Cathedral as part of the visit of the Natural History Museum’s Dippy the Dinosaur last year which was visited by over 235,000 visitors to overwhelming response on its message on the climate crisis and raised funds for Norwich Cathedral charities.

As well as raising vital funds it is hoped that the sculpture will eventually reflect the sentiments and the accumulated wisdom and memories of thousands of people passing through the doors of the hospital over the years and while being a permanent work of art, will be an ever-changing memorial to loved ones and the power of community, family and, above all the NHS.

The Tree of Life will raise funds for QEII Kings Lynn Hospital League of Friends and if you would like further information on how to commission a personal message to be engraved permanently on one of its leaves, please contact or on 01553 613309


To see more of Mark's complete portfolio please see my website or click on the Mark Reed signature at the top of the page. 

If you have any queries, please contact Hannah Reed via or 07765 064058.

The Story of the Engraved Leaves for your family and home

Mark has very recently lost his sister-in law Sharon to Cancer and he really wanted to give something back to the amazing nurses who provided such clinical, emotional and practical support in her two and a half year battle. She was a beacon of positivity and will be enormously missed by all. As such, all profits for the individual leaf sales for your family and home will be donated to Macmillan Cancer Support. 

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