M a n d a l a o f L i f e & D e a t h // Death & Diversity Exhibition
Wellington Museum of Land & Sea, Wellington, Aotearoa (NZ), 2011
"Mandala of Life and Death" at the Wellington Museum of Land and Sea, was featured as part of the Death and Diversity Exhibition in conjunction with the Office of Ethnic Affairs. The work is a collaboration between Imagine the land and the Amitabha Buddhist Hospice. It is based on the template of a Tibetan Sand Mandala in combination with Aotearoa and South Pacific designs. By nature the work is impermanent, constructed from a vibrant array of hand ground fine pigments, including Pounamu dust, Huia ochre’s and Omaru stone dust gathered from around New Zealand.The work was created onsite over a 50-hour period that was open to public viewing, visitors delighted in the experience engaging in inquisitive questions with the artists in relation to the work.
This mandala explores the elements that constitute our bodies: earth, air, fire, water and space and their capacity to be purified. The qualities of the elements when purified bring about the purification of suffering and delusion and the manifestation of compassion and wisdom. It embraces the qualities of Buddhist principles and unities them with the earthly and oceanic qualities of our south pacific islands.
We selected sacred earth materials from the natural world, that reflect the five elements in the context of Aotearoa. Historically, the art of mandala making was not created with natural, dyed sand, but granules of crushed coloured stone. In modern times, plain white stones are ground down and dyed with opaque inks to achieve the same effect.
When the mandala was completed, it was dissolved and offered to a body of water, reflecting the ephemeral process of life, decay and transformation. Honoring the Buddha’s teaching on the impermanence of all phenomena.
The work was produced in a series of artworks by Imagine the Land Project in the spring of 2011. A handful of materials was carried is from one installation to the next, weaving a circle of prayers from each artwork created.