The Nan Tien temple is already one of the Illawarra's most beautiful, peaceful and contemplative locations, so what better place for an exhibition on the theme of mindfulness and consciousness?
Being In The Moment, showing about 20 pieces by seven local artists, opened at the Berkeley temple on Thursday. A range of paintings, installations and poetry, the exhibition is the second in a series exploring the idea of Australian artists in the "Asian century".
"It is about the cultural contributions that can be bridges for the economic and social dialogue between Australia and Asia," curator Friederike Krishnabhakdi-Vasilakis said.
"The idea of 'being in the moment' is the Buddhist practice of mindfulness, shutting out distractions, trying to calm things down a bit, and be aware of what's happening around you."
Ms Krishnabhakdi-Vasilakis compares the notion to "focusing less on the traffic around us and just concentrating on the road," with the temple hosting a range of abstract and thought-provoking pieces meant to encourage introspection.
Figtree artist Greer Taylor lent her piece Inversion, a steel and thread installation almost three metres tall. With a circular mirrored base and square top enclosing a cone, the structure often "confounded" audiences, she said.
"There's something about the virtual space inside the mirror which makes it very peaceful.
"The process of assembling it was quite meditative for me as an artist. There's 180 strings to be strung, and it took me three days to do it. I've done it faster before, but I wanted to do it slowly this time, to engage and sink into that meditative state."
Other artists with work on show include University of Wollongong journalism lecturer Dr Marcus O'Donnell, Alena Kennedy, and three writers from the South Coast Writers' Centre.
Being In The Moment is at the Nan Tien Institute's art gallery until November 24. An official launch will be held on October 27, to coincide with the NTI's graduation ceremony.