Mat New writes from Birmingham UK with news of the launch of the first-ever Triratna Artists catalogue - an attempt to collect and showcase something of the breadth of Triratna artists working worldwide. He says -
“The ‘Triratna Arts and Culture Catalogue 2013’ is a new world-wide initiative that looks to showcase something of the Triratna Buddhist Community’s efforts to translate the Dharma into a modern, worldwide culture.
The project has been amassing content for nearly 18 months, and in its present form features largely in a beautifully-produced, large format, portfolio books. 30 are being sent as gifts to Triratna’s largest Buddhist centres and retreat centres around the world, and will be unveiled from 1st September 2013. Many are marking the occasion by putting on launch events such as exhibitions, talks on the arts, concerts and meals - look out for one near you!
The initial response from artists was remarkable: when I started nobody really knew who I was or how it was going to turn out, but even then there were well over 100 applicants. It seems that our sense of cultural identity and creative expression really is something people want to be involved in”
The book comprises 70 pages, one artist to each page, and features every artistic discipline from film making to silk painting, from puppets to sculpting. Although those who are dependent on their art for a living have been given priority, the book contains work from a very wide variety of people from five continents”.
And Mat goes on to comment - “Bhante’s emphasis on the arts is not just a side line, it’s one of the distinctive emphases of our spiritual community. I wanted a project that could give people the raw materials needed to consider art within the movement as a viable part of their practice, whether that be a receptive practice of appreciating art, an active practice in creating it, or even in other ways, such as commissioning work: A commission for a piece of work is an act of trust and generosity towards an artist, I think few people really appreciate just how nourishing such a gesture is to someone’s work. You don’t need to be highly skilled or even knowledgeable in art to be involved in what we are all creating as a community”.
The 30 books so far produced have been funded by the artists appearing in its pages, though Centres are being encouraged to donate towards the cost of their copy. This will enable more to be printed and sent to all 60 or so Triratna Buddhist Centres worldwide. As of September 1st the material will also be available in a smaller ‘home edition’ for around £25, either from centres or via lulu.com: £10 of which will go to buying more open copies for centres.
And he concludes: “I hope this book is seen as widely as possible as I can’t imagine anyone reading through it without finding at least something inside that leads them somewhere. And this is only the start: if this project reaches enough people and proves to be financially viable, we may do more in future”.
The project was produced by Matthew New, edited and proof-read by Jnanarakshita and supported technically by Ben Mann. Amitajyoti, Dharmamati and Ratnagarbha from Urthona magazine were all involved in consultancy roles.
A preview of the book can be seen here, and the books will be available online from 1st September by searching “Triratna Arts and Culture 2013” on lulu.com.