Buddhist-inspired visual art and architecture

An on-line gallery of visual art and architecture inspired by Buddhism and/or produced by practising Buddhists.

New Zen retreat centre – Awaji Island, Japan

An open-air platform for meditation is elevated above the treetops at Zenbo Seinei, a wooden retreat that Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban has completed on Awaji Island in Japan.
Nestled amongst trees on the island’s north side, the meditation retreat is aimed at tourists seeking space for self-reflection, healthy eating and mindfulness.


Margarita Sampson – Blue Mountains, NSW Australia

Fireground- Pieta’ 2021 steel, found & recycled textiles, videotape, wood

This work was a truly difficult one to midwife into the world, borne out of the misery and the devastation of the 2019 fires. After the fires had passed, amidst the soot, the only colour in the blackened fireground was the still-red glowing interiors of the logs. Subsumed into the landscape/country, it/we/us became my/our skin, the logs were fallen animal brethren, our own body. No barrier. The only way for me to come through this time and not drown was one precious breath at a time, and then the next. To anchor in the experience, to bear witness, to not numb out, to find joy and beauty in small acts of care, of kindness, to help re-knit the world together, to create something out of suffering. As Thich Nhat Hanh said, “compassion is a verb’. Inside the work are glimpses of green, just waiting to unfurl. ‘

Reasons to be Cheerful’ 2021 steel, automotive paint. 230 cm high, 100 cm diameter

This work came from sitting in the garden in 2020, watching the bees on the brassicas, and wondering at the perfect symmetry which gave every flower space and maximum access for the bees. Spending time in my garden helped give me resilience after the fires & during the pandemic & find a quietude in connection to growing things.

Patti Abela – Blue Mountains, NSW Australia

Road to Damascus

Collected from the Castlereagh Highway, Yuwaalaray country, during the recent intense drought, these kangaroo bones were among a mass of native animal carcasses strewn across hundreds of kilometres.  It was a devastating scene to witness and left me feeling bereft and grief stricken. I felt a great urgency to return and did so eight months later to collect some of the many bone fragments.
These bones hold the very being of animals that once were here and are now gone.  When our spirit is broken, nature can be a wonderful source for healing. First nations people have said this for many years.  Our ecosystems are on the brink of collapse, scientists have proven this.

I have displayed the bones in a tight highway formation, heading towards a solid wall.  Will we, as human beings, collectively come together to recover our environment?  The answer lies at the vanishing point.

These bones will be respectfully returned to Yuwaalaray country.

Of the spirituality of nature, David Attenborough said ‘In moments of great grief, that’s where you look and immerse yourself.  You realise you are not immortal, you are not a god, you are part of the natural world and you come to accept that.’


Bereft and lonely, I connect to the landscape with its stark and lonely emptiness. Focussing into the distance on the soft still mist I search for souls disappeared. What lies ahead is covered by the mystery of the mist. Glimpses of hope are revealed as light appears and shimmers on grey rolling clouds.

Lindy Lee – Australia

Seeds of a New Moon, 2019. Flung bronze. Image courtesy the artist and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney and Singapore. © the artist. Photographer: Aaron Anderson

Karl Martens – Sweden / USA

Snowy Owl - Karl Martens
Karl Martens – Snowy Owl

The background for Karl’s style has its roots in his deep interest for the forms of meditation found I Zen Buddhism. Getting to know one self through attention to thoughts and emotions, and to accept the fact that we will never be fully in control of our lives are some of the thoughts he has found important. This way of thinking is not only reflected in Karl’s paintings, but has resulted in his holding workshops in Zen calligraphy, where participants get to practice identifying their emotions, resist planning and then express the emotions on paper with Chinese ink on calligraphy paper.

– When we paint from our true feelings, we all paint something beautiful.

Karl paint his birds from memory, using watercolor and charcoal on hand-made paper.

– I look at a bird and a specific expression or posture, which particularly expresses the personality of the bird, sticks in my mind. Then I paint…

Gyr Falcon - Karl Martens
Karl Martens – Gyr Falcon
Video of the artist at work

Tadao Ando – Japan

Buddha hill tadao ando
Tadao Ando – Buddha Hill, Sapporo
Hill of the Buddha, Sapporo, Japan

Japanese architect Tadao Ando has concealed a huge stone statue of the Buddha within a hill covered in lavender plants at the Makomanai Takino Cemetery in Sapporo.

Buddha hill tadao ando lavender
Tadao Ando – Buddha Hill, Sapporo head detail

Miya Ando – USA

Wishing Mandala 2017

Interactive installation for the Rubin Museum
72″X 72″, dyed Bodhi (ficus religiosa) skeleton leaves, monofilament, archival ragboard

Ando describes her works as “studies in nothingness.” Raised partly in a secluded Buddhist temple in Okayama, Japan, she says her spiritual practice informs her exploration of simplicity and reduction. In 2009, Ando donated her work 8 Fold Path to the Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society in Los Angeles. The work comprises a grid of four steel plates shaded by a thin application of patina. 8 Fold Path serves as a reminder of the dharma wheel—a visual representation of Buddhism’s noble eightfold path—for the L.A. space’s practitioners, who meditate facing the pedestal above which the work hangs.


8 Fold Path 2009
Eightfold Path - Miya Ando
Miya Ando – Eightfold Path

For Against The Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, Los Angeles
96″ x 96″ Patina, Pigment, Lacquer, Steel

James Turrell – USA

Turrell’s medium is pure light. He says, “My work has no object, no image and no focus. With no object, no image and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking. What is important to me is to create an experience of wordless thought.”

James Turrell - Bridgets Bardo 2009
James Turrell – Bridget’s Bardo 2009
James Turrell - Jarna Armta 2011
James Turrell – Jarna Armta 2011
James Turrell - Double Vision 2013
James Turrell – Double Vision 2013 Credit: Ekebergparken / © Ivar Kvaal

Max Gimblett – USA / New Zealand

Max Gimblett - The Messenger 2015
The Messenger – 2015


More to come …

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