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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Tibetan travels

August 17, 2008

Photographic exhibition reflects painter's journey to monastery in India
By Elizabeth Yates, EXPOSITOR Staff
Brantford Expositor (Canada)
August 14, 2008

As an artist, Colin Gregg Ferrell was already accustomed to the
necessity of living a modest life.

But after visiting an impoverished Tibetan monastery and refugee camp
in India, even something as simple as hot running water seems like a luxury.

"We are so wealthy here," Ferrell says in an interview at the
Gardener's Cottage, a charming small gallery on the grounds of
Glenhryst. Its white walls now glow with vibrant photos Ferrell took
at the Drepung Gomang Monastery in southern India during a visit by
exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. The images are
accented by stunningly elaborate Tibetan thangka paintings depicting
Buddhist deities.

While Ferrell's trip reaped rich artistic rewards, witnessing how
monks and refugees lived graciously amid poverty was an even more
valuable revelation.

"It teaches you a lesson," he says. "My attitude to have and have-not
has changed. Sometimes, have-not is just as good."

A longtime practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, Ferrell visited the
monastery between Dec. 25 and Feb. 1. He was invited as a donor and
founder of a new, non-profit organization called Traditionally Tibet.
The group's aims include promoting fair trade for Tibetan artisans,
whose creations are now sold abroad at unfairly low prices.

Along with 34 photos by Ferrell, 13 thangkas by three Tibetan
refugees now living in Toronto are also showcased at the cottage gallery.

The featured artist is Tenzin Dhargay, whose works have been
exhibited in Spain, Portugal, France, the U. S. and Canada.

Dhargay represents the ninth generation of thangka painters in his
family. He learned the art from his father and went on to learn with
grand masters at historic palaces in Tibet before fleeing to India in
1987. In 2007, he came to Canada and now makes a living painting
thangkas on commission as well as by teaching the sacred art.

It's a painstaking process, as the artists mix their own paint and
gesso -- a gluey substance which helps prepare the canvas. The
surface is carefully stretched before painting to ensure its
smoothness. Each thangka can take several months to complete.

Originally used as teaching aids for monks who travelled around to
smaller communities, the religious paintings are now also valued as
aesthetic objects by art lovers.
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