Here are some inspiring words from our lead artist – Cat Scott:
My name is Cat, and I am the visual artist working on the Near Neighbours project. I have thoroughly enjoyed leading a series of visual art workshops for the first time here at Kala Sangam Arts Centre. I found it rewarding working with people who mostly haven’t experienced artistic activities before, as I liked helping them to realise their own creative ideas. As a conceptual artist, I took pride in discussing the concept of symbolism with the Buddhists and Hindus, which acted as the basis for the series of art workshops where we focused on printmaking. We decided on printmaking because it is an accessible process for both artistic and non-artistic people to learn.
I asked the group to think about visual symbols from their religions – symbols made up of images, objects and words, as well as the symbolism of colour. These symbols then became motifs in our installation of three large collaborative prints. A group discussion about eternal life and rebirth – and how in both religions’ teachings, life rises and falls in cycles like waves – lead to us decide that each A1 print would firstly be composed of a border of waves. Above these borders we printed the various symbols and words from both religions, and printed lights (a common object in prayer and ritual) in warm colours. These lights represent hope.
As Buddhism grew out of Hinduism, there are many similarities.
I particularly enjoyed the philosophical discussions about the Buddhist and Hindu perspectives of nature and the cosmos, and then how we could translate those ideas into visual art. One member of SGI, Andy, discussed how life, nature and the cosmos were all infinite cycles. To represent these cycles and the rhythm of prayer, we repeated motifs and layered several prints with different colours and using different angles.
The group really took to the printmaking and used art as a basis to discuss the similarities and differences in their religions. I found that theological discussions fed organically into producing the artwork and deciding the concepts behind the use of colours and symbols. Art brought both communities together, and despite there being some language barriers the group collaborated and bonded from the start. The art in itself acted as a language with which to communicate.
I have always wanted to gain the experience of leading a printmaking workshop and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. Facilitating the workshops for the Near Neighbours projects I learnt so much about Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as valuable skills to take forward with me when leading workshops in future. I will take the experience of these leading visual art workshops with me for years to come, which will further my career ambitions of becoming an Artist full time in the future.
We have our Near Neighbours celebration event next week, which I am really looking forward to; we will have a pop-up exhibition in the café at Kala Sangam, alongside live music, food and presentations.
Stay tuned for Near Neighbours: Interfaith Conversations Part III!
Near Neighbours Visual Artist
Here are some lovely words from two of our participants:
I’ve really enjoyed this interfaith project, overall it has been very inspiring and I feel we all have really connected with the Hindu Community. It’s been joyful working & bonding together with the members of the Anand Milan Centre. Working with different age groups and creating artwork together I found is a great way to bond our two faiths of Buddhism and Hinduism. We realised things we have in common. And having a safe place to harmoniously discuss our ideas and beliefs is important. I found that we all worked together peacefully and joyfully. I’m grateful to have had this opportunity being my first interfaith project.
I experienced a beautiful connection with the Hindu community members. I felt that the realisation of artwork gave us all the possibility to open up our hearts and express ourselves with joy. I am confident this Art project represents the crystallisation in shapes and colours of what makes Hinduism’s and the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin’s both similar and unique. Might this be the artistic enacting of what we, as members belonging to the same human family, can actualise across time and space in our daily interactions in this beautiful blue planet.
(Silvia De Michelis)