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Thomas Seear-Budd

A fine art landscape photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand.

Currently my work revolves around the notions of spirituality and healing within a natural landscape. The work questions the way in which one’s experience and relationship with the natural environment can enable physical, psychological and spiritual growth.

In Wilbert Gesler’s 2003 text ‘Healing Places and Jennifer Lea’s 2008 paper ‘Retreating to Nature…’ it is
noted that there is a long history of removing and isolating oneself from ‘society’ in order to repair the
mind, soul and physical body (Lea) (Gesler and Kearns, Healing Places). Additionally Stattford Whiteaker
among others argues that through pressures on the life – work balance the notion of stillness has been
become scarce in Western countries. Consequently the scarcity of stillness in Western society has lead to
a heightened fascination and interest in places of retreat (Whiteaker). According to David Conradson through the experience of a ‘therapeutic landscape’one drifts into a state of ‘stillness’, a psychological state of reflection and contemplation. Consradson’s perception of ‘stillness’ as an internal calm leads one to become less aware of the events occurring ‘outside’ as they become conscious of their immediate surroundings and embodied experience of the world (Cronradson 33).

As a reaction to Whitreaker and Conradson’s statements about the West I began to investigate the spiritual and healing landscape, through Whiteaker’s notion of ‘stillness’, in South East Asia. The investigation led to water as the dominant subject matter as it embodies ‘stillness’ and the absence of ‘stillness’. Furthermore water plays a historic and important role in spiritual practices not just in South East Asia but worldwide. However in most spiritual practices the water used has been extracted from its natural surroundings. Through my photography I seek to investigate the spiritual and healing properties of water at its source and in its natural surroundings. The work demonstrates that through ‘stillness’ and the absence of ‘stillness’ water embodies the power to heal and grow ones psyche and spiritual outlook.

Cronradson, David. "The Experiential Economy of Stillness: Places of Retreat in Contemporary Britain."
Therapeutic Landscapes. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2007.

Gesler, Wilbert M. and Robin A. Kearns. Healing Places. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers,

Gesler, Wilbert M. and Robin A. Kearns. Culture / Place / Health. London: Routledge, 2002.

Lea, Jennifer. Retreating to Nature: Rethinking 'Therapeutic Landscapes'. Journal. University of Glasgow.
Glasgow: Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers), 2008.

Whiteaker, Stattford. The Good Retreat Guide. 5th. London: Random House, 2004.

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