In the 2011 census nearly 2726 Devonians stated their religion as Buddhist, a proportonal increase of 51.9% since the last census in 2001. ‘Where Butterflies Live is a personal and reflective journey with Buddhism at its heart by Community Researcher Alexandra ‘Sasha’ Vertalova who began exploring Buddhism in Devon and travelled to Burma in January 2013 and there, a world away from her Slovakian roots, found inspiration from the country’s culture and its people.

The title of this work ‘Where Butterflies Live’ was inspired by visiting RAMM, home to this beautiful souvenir painting on wood from South East Asia, lower Myanmar depicting an enlightened being (aharat), kneeling guardian spirits (nats) and an elephant, which symbolises strength of mind and noble gentleness. The small stupa represents the Buddha’s wisdom and teaching. The souvenir was obtained by Richard Waterfield who was serving in British India (which includes modern day Myanmar) from 1897 until 1922 and the object was acquired by the museum at this time but it could potentially be older. Painting © 2013 Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter City Council

Part 1. ‘Where Butterflies Live‘ contains excerpts from Sasha’s travel diary, observations and photos that she took on her travels in Burma, and the discovery of Hartridge Buddist Monastery in East Devon, a sanctuary she hadn’t expected to find so close to Exeter.

In Part 2. ‘Buddhism, an Introduction‘ – Sasha has compiled information here that is a useful guide for beginners, teachers and anyone interested in Buddhism.

Part 3. is Sasha’s research into Hartridge Buddhist Monastery which includes her conversations with one of the Monastery founders and her personal account of a day in the life at the monastery.