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What Turns You On?

Discovering Your Bliss and Staying Inspired

Our Photographer in Residence, Nilmini De Silva, talks about what inspires her creativity.



“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us”,

~Joseph Campbell


A few days ago a man—originally from Uganda—walked into the Skymirror Gallery and asked me where I find my inspiration.He had been admiring my art and flicking through my book, ‘Fate or Destiny’, so I went over to say hello. He was amazed to learn I had been to Uganda and trekked through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to see the gorillas. He shared that he too loved writing but found it difficult to find the time or the inspiration to do what he loved, when he was constantly immersed in making a living.


The conversation that transpired inspired me to write this blog and I hope it might inspire you too.

‘Time and Space’, I said, in response to his question They are the key ingredients closely followed by ‘Curiosity’, that help me ‘Connect’ with myself, the landscape and discover my voice. I am also inspired by the spirituality of indigenous people around the world, their semi-nomadic lifestyles and their connection to place. When Steven and I travel in our motorhome, taking only what we need to survive, stripping ourselves of all the extraneous stuff we are surrounded by at home, I feel a profound sense of freedom, while acknowledging that this is privileged choice that we get to make.   




I also enjoy my walks with Steve, taking just my phone—hard as this might be—to feel a sense of the place I am in. Being with someone who truly understands me, with whom I can bounce ideas with, has been invaluable to my journey. Besides other photographers I turn to for mentoring from time to time and the art galleries I browse, there are many other creatives, writers and philosophers who inspire me.


Joseph Campbell—an American mythologist and writer—is one of them.


Campbell talks about the daily ritual of spending time in a sacred space. A place that is disconnected from noise of the outside world and the emails and messages that keep demanding attention. A time and place where you turn off your phone, forget your ‘TODO’ list  and turn on your connection to the Universe. He encourages us to spend time here daily and meditate on our creativity. He says that even if nothing happens initially, you will eventually find inspiration.

When Steve and I were on the road, we would often listen to Campbell’s interviews with Bill Moyers—now published in The Power of Myth. His ideas on spirituality, psychological archetypes, cultural myths, and the mythology of self, really resonated with us. We would often pause the recording mid-sentence to discuss an idea.


It was while we were living on the road that I woke up one day, with the words to a poem just flowing out of me. I was compelled to grab a notebook and start writing. I had never written poetry before. I often wake up with ideas in the morning, which if not captured right away, vanish into the ether they came from. I find that the only times I am gifted with writing poetry, is when we are completely immersed in simply living.




Campbell says that the greatest transgression of humans is that we are not fully awake and challenges us to discover our bliss—find the path we are meant to be on. In 2010, following on from a year that had been the lowest point in my life, I took a sabbatical from my work to travel solo; volunteering on projects around the world. While I loved my work in water engineering, photography is truly my happy place—my bliss.


Staying inspired as a creative requires you to break free from routine. To spend time in places and with people who truly help you feel alive. I feel blessed to spend my days with a partner who inspires, supports and encourages me each day to climb mountains I never imagined I would scale. For that I am truly grateful.




“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived. Follow the path that is no path, follow your bliss. “ ~Joseph Campbell

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