Ladders To Heaven

By Mike Shanahan

How fig trees shaped our history, fed our imaginations and can enrich our future

Monday, 23 May 2016

All 20 illustrations unveiled. Prints and postcards available to supporters.

I'm pleased to unveil the final 20 illustrations that will appear in Ladders to Heaven. Below the image, you can read each picture's caption. Supporters can order prints or postcards along with their copy of the book (here).

Each picture is made up of thousands upon thousands of tiny little dots. Each picture therefore took hours upon hours to complete. With the pictures finally finished, the book will be heading to the printers in the next couple of weeks.

Thanks once again to everyone who has supported the book so far. Knowing you were waiting for the book gave me the mental strength to finish the illustrations.

Captions (top to bottom, left to right)...

  • FOREST TAKEOVER: A strangler fig colonises, embraces and replaces its host tree
  • A FIGURE IN A FIG TREE: An ancient Indus seal depicts what may be a sacrifice to a deity in a fig tree
  • NIGHT GARDENERS: Fruit bats have been important dispersers of fig seeds for tens of millions of years
  • TREE OF ENLIGHTENMENT: Winged spirits and earth-bound devotees at the Buddha's Ficus religiosa, from a first century BCE sculpture at Sanchi, India
  • ANCIENT ALLIES: Rhinoceros hornbills depend on figs to survive; in return for their food they sow Ficus seeds as they fly
  • A BANYAN’S BLESSINGS: In an ancient Hindu tradition married women tie threads around a banyan tree and pray for their husbands’ wellbeing
  • DEADLY EMBRACE: A strangler fig imprisons its host tree with its rampant aerial roots
  • EDEN'S FIGS: Eve and Adam eat figs from the Tree of Knowledge, in an image first drawn by a Spanish monk in the year 994
  • LIFE IN A DEAD-END: Now wingless, a female fig-wasp pollinates fig flowers and lays eggs in some of them through a tube at the end of her body
  • VOLCANO IN RECOVERY: Fig trees are dominant forces on Papua New Guinea’s Long Island and, near the centre of its crater lake, the tiny island of Motmot
  • STRANGLER'S HEART: When a strangler fig's host dies a hollow core remains
  • ALL HAIL THE SKY KING: A rhinoceros hornbill arrives at a fig tree to feast
  • CROWNING GLORY: Treetops Hotel, Kenya in 1952, when a princess climbed the fig tree and return to earth the next day a queen
  • NATURE VERSUS STRUCTURE: A giant strangler fig dominates a ruined temple in Cambodia
  • BENEATH A BANYAN: A single Ficus benghalensis can resemble a small forest thanks to the false trunks its pillar roots form
  • FIGS IN THE FAMILY: High in an African fig tree more than four million years ago, an Ardipithecus ramidus reaches for a fig
  • ALL SHAPES AND SIZES: Figs of ten Ficus species collected by the author on a single day in Borneo
  • ROBOTS IN THE RAINFOREST: Aerial drones on a mission to gather rare fig seeds for other drones to disperse
  • JOURNEY'S END: A fig-wasp enters a fig through a tiny hole, then forces her way to the fig's hollow, flower-lined centre
  • HEAVEN’S GATE: The Egyptian goddess Hathor emerges from her sacred fig tree to meet souls bound for the afterlife
Back to project page
Share on social

Top rewards

103 pledges


E-book edition.
Buy now
£20  + shipping
232 pledges


Currently sold out. In the meantime, you can order a hardback edition here.