A surrealist AI generated image of a woman's profile, surrounded by nature scenes and neural-like pathways

Inner strength and hope

There’s a troublesome space in my exhibition experience.

One of the most difficult things about it is trying to get out of my own head, so I can open the space up for other people in whatever way they need it to appear. To help design that, I ran a little R&D experiment to find out where people find inner strength and hope.

I posed the question using a Tree of Hope, asking people to write their answer to the question “Where do you find inner strength and hope?” on a green tag and hang it from the branches of a white birch.

A collage of 4 images: a green tag hanging on a tree, fake candles in a black shelter, a sign explaining the Tree of Hope project, and the question "Where do you find inner strength and hope?"

I ran my results through AI to more easily pull together themes from the responses people gave me and find out what stands out as most memorable about them as a collection.

Here’s what it came back with.

Sources of strength

  • Relationships and community (friends, family, teachers) form a collective source of strength.
  • Personal beliefs, hobbies and self-reflection highlight individual efforts to stay hopeful.

Dominant themes

Social connections

A significant number of respondents find strength and hope in their relationships with friends, family, partners, and teachers. This highlights the fundamental human need for connection and support. For instance, responses like “My very kind friends” and “From my family and nature” emphasise the role of loved ones in providing emotional sustenance.

Nature and environment

Nature serves as a powerful source of inspiration and rejuvenation for many. Answers such as “Nature” and “Relaxing and chilling outside” reflect the calming and grounding influence of the natural world.

Faith and spirituality

Several respondents draw strength from their faith, indicating the importance of spiritual beliefs in providing hope. Statements like “God Universe Nature LIFE” and “heaven with God and Jesus” showcase the role of spirituality in offering comfort and perspective.

Self-reliance and personal growth

A number of individuals derive inner strength from within themselves, emphasising self-belief and personal development. Responses like “I trust myself and the process. All I need is already present within me” and “I get my inner strength from my mind” highlight a strong sense of self-reliance and introspection.

Activities and hobbies

Engaging in meaningful activities also provides a sense of purpose and joy. For example, “my dance studio” and “Sleeping. Drawing.” show how personal passions and hobbies can be a source of inner strength.

Unique philosophical perspectives

Some responses stand out for their unique philosophical outlooks. One respondent quoted Ursula Le Guin, emphasising the power of imagination to envision a better future. Another expressed an optimistic view with “I have hope tattooed on the inside of my eyelids,” indicating a deeply ingrained sense of optimism and faith in humanity.

Collective human experience

There is a collective sense of hope tied to the broader human experience and future possibilities. Answers like “Connecting with other humans gives me hope” and the belief in “human ingenuity and creativity” reflect an optimistic outlook on human potential and progress.

One response that personally gives me hope is from the person who says, “from my growing belief in myself” because the area of my exhibition the Tree of Hope research feeds into is key to having people walk out the other side feeling this exact same way.


More trusting of themselves.

And ready for whatever the world throws at them.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Tree of Hope, on- and offline 💚 You still can! In fact, I’d love it if you did: hang your tag from the tree 🌱🏷️

Coming soon

Next, I’ll be working these findings into a new version of the exhibition concept. Version two will scrap the sensors, tie up all the loose ideas I couldn’t find a home for in version one, and set out the plan for how I’ll use AI to personalise the experience for people in the most magical way 💫 ✨

Main image mock up of the tree created using Ideogram AI

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