Temple at the NFSA

Created by Australian artists Leila Jeffreys and Melvin J. Montalban, this contemplative artwork celebrates the awe-inspiring beauty of native cockatoos. 

Temple invites us to reflect on the wonder of nature and our place within it.

Open 5 April to 30 June in the Gallery at NFSA Acton.
Admission is free.


Throughout history, people have made pilgrimages to temples. They have stood before altars, revelling in the tranquillity that comes with stillness, swapping the speed of earthly existence for a connection to something bigger.  

According to pantheistic traditions, nature itself is sacred. Regardless of our personal values, there is often an inner knowing that we can find our place in the cosmos by seeking solace in the natural world. Temple stems from this idea of nature as a sacred refuge and offers a place of contemplative sanctuary.  

Cockatoos fly in hypnotic loops, appearing and disappearing out of the frame in a reminder of seasons and cycles. They bathe and flap their wings, sending droplets into the space around them, dreamily falling and colliding in slow motion. Below each panel, a shallow pool of still water extrudes outwards toward the viewer, reflecting and refracting the on-screen images.  

Together, the elements of Temple serve as an altar to nature. It’s a place that stirs the human spirit, somewhere that allows the viewer to consider deeper questions. But it also asks the viewer to see nature as their personal temple, the link between themselves and a universe that all living creatures are part of, and to understand the natural world as something to cherish and protect.

Leila Jeffreys x Melvin J. Montalban

A sulphur-crested cockatoo shaking water droplets off its head
Temple. A contemplative sanctuary to stir your spirit.

We’re open 10.00am to 4.00pm daily on McCoy Circuit in Acton’s cultural precinct. Plan your visit 

What's on at Acton

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The Library

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Arc Cinema

Arc Cinema is Canberra’s go-to spot for the culturally curious. Enjoy our curated program of recent releases and revived classics, from high art to guilty pleasures. There’s something for everyone! 

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