Buddhist practice given artistic edge in multi-sensory exhibition gallery

by MEGHAN LAWRENCE, Stuff, September 22 2015

Auckland, New Zealand -- Buddhism is at the heart of Tiffany Singh's latest art installations. The Auckland artist will have 12 works on display in her upcoming exhibition Mahabhuta: The Great Element'jointly presented at Uxbridge Centre for Arts and Culture and the Fo Guang Shan Temple.

Venerable Jue Hao and artist Tiffany Singh are preparing for the upcoming exhibiton at Fo Guang Shan Temple.

The multi-sensory exhibition aims to bring together the diverse communities of East Auckland and explore what is sacred in contemporary society.

Singh sources her materials from Fair Trade organisations, including the 50 wind chimes which will make up an outdoor installation at the temple.

"Everything is nature based or responding to the elements. I don't work with anything synthetic, so I work with materials such as flowers, foods, colours and sound," she says.

But her signature work, which was made in Nepal, is an installation consisting of 900 ribbons with the medicine Buddha healing mantra written on them.

Singh, 37, is of Indian, Maori, Pacific Island and New Zealand European descent but says she grew up without any influence from her ethnicities.

Then she travelled to India that she found refuge in eastern philosophy and studied comparative religion, Hinduism and Buddhism.

This study, along with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, led her to take up the role of a social practice artist.

"That encouraged me to understand how the process of art making can be a tool for education, empowerment and to generate dialogue around social issues," she says.

Venerable Jue Hao says the ideas expressed in Singh's work are very meaningful for the temple.

"The medicine Buddha is very famous in Chinese Buddhism and he means to bless all human beings with healthy lives," she says.

"We are very glad to have Tiffany installing her work here."

Uxbridge curator Balamohan Shingade says the works have a deep connection with the exhibition spaces.

"There is so much connection between the artwork that references religion and it being placed in a gallery that is within a temple and also Uxbridge's Malcolm Smith Gallery which was once a church," he says.

Mahabhuta: The Great Element exhibition is on at Fo Guang Shan Temple from September 27 - December 27 and Malcolm Smith Gallery from September 28 - November 19.