Harmony Art Exhibition
From the 5th of December 2020 until the 7th of March 2021, HYEF sponsored the Harmony Art Exhibition as part of Nan Tien Art Gallery’s Community Engagement Art Project. The intention of the exhibition was to promote community engagement, multiculturalism, and harmony, through a celebration of the arts. The exhibition was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Wollongong City Council, Gordon Bradbery AM, along with Venerable Man Ko, Chief Abbess of Fo Guang Shan Australia & New Zealand and Curator of Nan Tien Art Gallery. The mayor expressed how the exhibition reflected the celebration of cultural diversity and harmony in the Illawarra region, while Venerable Man Ko indicated that having the exhibition during the pandemic provided the local community with a way to re-connect and promote harmony. One of the artists, George Williams, expressed how the art exhibition raised an example of our commitment to achieving harmony as well as diversity. He claimed that diversity of culture is equally as important as harmony, as diverse ideas bring people together.
The exhibition attracted 30 local artists who submitted 90 pieces of work. The artworks expressed the theme of harmony across a range of ideas, including mindfulness, co-existence, and caring for the community, environment, and nature. For instance, the artwork “Nest Egg”, from artist Beth Crawford, was made using recycled clay to form an egg. This served as a reminder that there is a plethora of native birdlife from the rainforests of the Illawarra that we have a duty to protect and care for. The artwork “Lost Buttons”, from artist Josephine Dash, was created using hand-built ceramic techniques which evoked a celebration of the lost, disregarded history and value of traditional buttons. The installation and assemblage contained an element of mindfulness, as the process of creating the artwork enabled the artist to reconnect and reflect on the importance of buttons in the modern household. In addition, Meg Costelloe’s artwork “Harmony Diversity”, which depicted flowers blooming in the hot summer, conveyed how people need to cherish harmony, as we are all members of families and societies that are interconnected with the natural world.
In order to comply with the Australian government’s COVID-19 Safety Measures, Nan Tien Art Gallery had to strictly limit a maximum of 25 people to enter the gallery at a time. As a result of this, NTAG arranged to hold two tea meditation sessions outside of the gallery, to engage members of the community who were waiting to enter. This allowed the public to participate in a unique tea culture and meditation experience. Artist Anita Mulrooney said that the tea meditation brought her peace, and allowed her to feel the beauty of tea culture. Overall, the exhibition and tea meditation sessions were extremely well-received by the general public. In the words of Venerable Master Hsing Yun, the theme of the exhibition was successful in reminding us of the need for harmony, especially during a global pandemic, as we are part of an ecosystem and environment that creates and facilitates lives.