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Tibet – Locating Tradition from Exile

Media Release

Exhibition @ Geoff Wilson Gallery
Northland Polytechnic
Raumanga Valley Road, Whangarei.

Geoff Wilson Gallery
Opening hours: Tues – Friday 10am – 4pm.

Tibet – Locating Tradition from Exile:
Photographs and Pictorial Carpets.
Curated by the Whangarei Art Museum.

30th August 2005 – 23rd September 2005

The Whangarei Art Museum presents two intriguing concurrent exhibitions:

Tibet: Through the Eyes of an Exile
Photographs by Dhondup Tsering


Tales of Tibet -
The Enchanting Story of Tibetan Carpets
An exhibition of exquisite Trade Aid Tibetan Rugs handmade by Tibetans in exile.

Both exhibitions, Tibet: Through the Eyes of an Exile and Tales of Tibet, speak of the ongoing struggle for freedom, peace and resolution by the Tibetan people, with the presentation of both the photographic works by a Tibetan in exile, Dhondup Tsering, and through the enchanting stories of Tibetan carpets made by Tibetans living in exile.

Opening Tuesday 30th August, 5.30pm.

Opening Blessing by Tibetan Monk Venerable Gefhe Sangey Thinley
from the Whangarei Buddhist Centre.
Opening address by Vi Cottrell, founder of Trade Aid.
Traditional Tibetan ceremonial pastry and salty tea will be served.

Tibet: Through the Eyes of an Exile
Photographs by Dhondup Tsering

Dhondup Tsering is a Tibetan exile, a New Zealander, an artist, husband and father. Living in the Whangarei region with his wife since 2001 Tsering is now a New Zealand citizen, his son was born here in Northland.

The twenty photographs that make up the exhibition Tibet: Through the Eyes of an Exile were born from Dhondup’s experiences growing up in Chinese colonized Tibet, and his later escape to Nepal and Dharamsala; the Tibetan government and community in exile based in India. The exhibition looks at Dhondup’s complex concepts of ‘home,’ his sense of alienation within his Tibetan birthplace, as well his journey towards gradually viewing New Zealand as home.

Memory features persistently in Dhondup’s exploration of ‘home.’ Memory for an exile is always fraught with longing and desire. Living in exile is about re-imagining faces, sights and places anew each day so as to remember home and carry it within ones mind. The photographs aid this memory jolt, depicting scenes once familiar to Dhondup in his childhood daily routine. Going back to Tibet after many years of separation, many photographs capture the exuberant spirit of the welcome home Dhondup received. With such warmth of character, beauty of landscape and colourful imagery, some may well wonder where the sadness Dhondup speaks of is actually located.

Dhondup explains; “For me, the sadness lies in the meticulous attention I have given to the project… it lies in my need for these re-presentations.”

He adds that the sadness also lies in the need to record many of the world’s ethnic traditions and cultures, values that are fast becoming subsumed by the ‘Westernisation” of the world.

Dhondup also states “The exhibition is thus ultimately about a world that is now lost to me, and about a culture that is simultaneously under threat of extinction and in the process of evolving to adapt to the demands of today’s world.”

Photographs from Tibet – Through the Eyes of an Exile will be available for purchase through referral to the artist and, along with the Tibetan Rugs purchased, will be available for pick up at the close of the exhibition.

Tales of Tibet-
The Enchanting Story of Tibetan Carpets.
A Trade Aid Exhibition

Tales from Tibet - The Enchanting Story of Tibetan Carpets is an exhibition showcasing more than 40 traditionally crafted carpets of varying sizes and designs.

If a picture paints a thousand words, a Tibetan carpet certainly tells a thousand tales. Each carpet is hand knotted from wool by refugees from Tibet living in India and Nepal.

Their carpet-making skills are a legacy of more than 100,000 refugees who fled Tibet in 1959 to live in exile after the Chinese invasion of their country. Many carpets were carried out of Tibet on the backs of refugees, and so not only do the traditional methods of knotting and cutting the carpets remain today, but so too, do many of the traditional designs.

Traditional carpet making not only provides a much needed source of income, it keeps Tibetan culture alive. The carpet makers weave the stories of their religious beliefs and mythology into the carpets through symbols such as dragons, phoenixes, snow lions, magic pearls and the snowy peaks of the Himalayan Mountains. Carpets have been commonly used in Tibet as bedding, wall hangings, saddle cloths, mats for religious purposes and on seats for more than 900 years, and those in the exhibition and sale vary in size from chair mats to large floor rugs.

Trade Aid buys the carpets directly from the weavers’ cooperatives, ensuring the weavers can earn a fair wage to support their family and, at the same time, preserving the weavers’ traditional skills. This fair trade practice ensures that the weavers are treated fairly and that no child labour is involved.

With Tales of Tibet comes a rare opportunity to purchase these exquisitely hand-made carpets, and to support Tibetans in exile. These carpets are often hung vertical on walls, giving them an ‘art’ context that is deserved of their preciousness and unique skill. This is the first time ever the carpets have been shown and made available to purchase in Northland, so don’t miss out!

The exhibition is accompanied by a colour poster and an exhibition profile, and will be available to be viewed online at


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