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Waves of Contemplation

Sonia Anne Ellem | Qld, Australia

Looking into the unknown. The role of unknowns and uncertainty is critical in understanding emotion and attachment. Fear of the unknown is a basic cognitive process underlying all anxiety disorders. How we rise above our fears is often down to gaining an understanding of the fear and working with it.

1 in 5 (20%) of Australians experience mental health challenges at some time in their life. Billions of dollars are allocated to mental health programs annually, with little real impact on the overall mental health and wellbeing of our nation.

Researchers have found that the combination of the surf, sand, sea, and sunshine provides a relaxing environment that can positively affect our mood. Negative ions generated by the ocean promote a soothing state and the color blue is associated with feelings of calm and peace. Staring at the ocean has been found to change our brain waves’ frequency making us more mindful, and putting us into a meditative state. This project observes and documents these effects on individuals on the beaches of Australia. 

85 percent of Australians live within 50 kilometers of the coast. It is our happy place, where we find joy, peace, rejuvenation, and recovery. It is a therefore perfect environment to capture 'Mass Mindfulness' and to consider the positive, non-medicated effect on the mental health and wellbeing of our nation.


Dicky Beach Surf Life Saving Club, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

'Waves of Contemplation' had its genesis in the personal journey of the artist whose career spanned social policy and programs and incorporated mental health and wellbeing. In her personal life, she is a carer for her own son who has experienced chronic mental ill-health for many years.

Beyond the trauma and chaos of her personal experiences, the ocean always provides Sonia with calming respite. She noticed the meditative effect it had on others too, and she started to document the non-medicated mood she saw on the beaches of Queensland. 

Canon 77D

Tamron 18-400mm 

Random beachgoers and members of the Coolum Beach Surf Lifesaving Club

No official affiliates at this stage.




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