Karma Lama

In Tibetan culture, artists paint a long-life mandala, or tse-dup-kyil-khor, the subject of which is a senior figurehead in a religious organization such as Llama or Rinpoche. It is usually placed in a Buddhist temple or another place of worship. The long-life mandala serves the purpose of blessing its subject with good health and prosperity for what will hopefully be a lengthy lifetime.

Given my upbringing, transitioning from eastern into western culture and growing up being emotionally close to my family but geographically distant, I wanted my family to be the subjects of these mandalas.

The basis for the piece is handmade Indian cotton paper – chosen due its similarity to Tibetan paper. It was painted with homemade natural pigment, bound with gum Arabic and water. The medium is the truest, purest, organic state with which I can make an offering of my emotions.

In painting mandalas traditionally, there is a religious protocol that is to be followed in terms of the geometry of the work, the materials and colours used.

However, religion itself is not central to my piece. Instead, I adapted my work to reflect my own emotions towards my family.

Although I interpreted some of the traditional colour palette to express my own creative freedom, it was important for me, given that my family are religious and I wish to respect their beliefs, that I did not deter from retaining the existing confines of a mandala’s geometry.

The work is having a tremendously positive impact on how I deal with my personal family experiences and I find it is a respectful release for me.