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Philip was educated in Melbourne, Australia and at an early age began to draw and paint. Under the mentorship of Australian artists, Desmond Norman and Ronald Miller he developed his appreciation of art and the ability to draw and paint with oils. In his early twenties Philip was attracted to photography as a means of expression and spent time under the mentorship of the great photographic master Athol Shmith. At this time he embarked on his career as a professional photographer working in a well known Toorak photographic studio.
The Spiritual Journey
Through his art and photography Philip pushed the boundaries of design and eventually realized that the greatest creation was in the mind itself. This led him to a search that would take him beyond the worldly visual and sensory existence, in the direction of the inner experience and its relation to the universe. The eastern philosophies had particular appeal as a guide to Philip because they had their main emphasis on personal spiritual development rather than a belief system.
Having contact with a number of yoga and meditation groups Philip joined with a group of Tibetan Buddhists in a large house in Carlton called Tara house. It was there he met Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. On the full moon in May, the Buddha’s birthday 1976 he also met Tan Don an English Buddhist monk from Thailand. In the following year Philip ordained as a Buddhist novice monk at Wat Bovorn, Bangkok under Tan Somdet Nyanasanvara (now the Sangharaj (head monk) of Thailand) and later took full ordination under Ven.U Dhammananda at Wat Tamao , Lampang who gave him the name ‘Visuddhacara’. He remained as a bhikkhu (fully ordained monk ) in Thailand and Sri Lanka studying the scriptures, living in remote meditation monasteries and as a recluse, practicing meditation.and going on pindapata (alms round) for food. His spiritual teacher was the great meditation master of recent times, Venerable Nyanarama Mahathera whom he lived close to for several years. During this time Visuddhacara developed a great respect and love for the pristine wilderness, living in caves and huts, far into the remote dense rainforests.
After many years the monk Visuddhacara returned to Australia and taught the Buddha’s teaching and meditation at Wat Buddhadhamma, a forest monastery called surrounded by the Dharug National Park, New South Wales and at different venues around Australia. After some time a difficult decision was made to disrobe and move into the next phase of his life’s journey and Visuddhacara returned to the lay–life, this time much more fulfilled and enriched from his lengthy time living one of the most spiritual lifestyles in the world.
Philip once again saw the importance of art and how it can uplift and even enlighten the viewer to what they may not have realized before. After spending a number of years living in and appreciating the wilderness areas of Australia Philip returned to Melbourne in 1992 and co-founded ICPP International College of Creative Arts. As Director of the College and Director of Studies until 2008 Philip mentored the training of numerous successful professional photographers and photographic artists, both local and international, and oversaw the successful training of students in creative advertising. The college with campuses in Melbourne and Sydney was one of Australia’s leading creative arts colleges. During these years Philip has continued to produce and exhibit fine art photographs of the natural world and also of staged themes.
Visuddhacara now spends many months each year traversing the remote wilderness areas to capture on film the beauty and suffering of this lonely planet as it plays out in the cosmic game birth, life and death.
The body of work Visuddhacara Philip Ayres now offers to the viewer is a living, growing collection of imagery born out of his unique vision that has roots in both Australian and eastern culture and spirituality as well as drawing on the ultimate power of this infinite universe with its unavoidable laws of time and space. The viewer is urged to open to the deeper spiritual meaning inherent in every image and moved to reflect on their own inner journey.
Please take your time to look at each image to ponder the possibilities.