Food for the soul from Japan

By Jayashika Padmasiri Pix by Chamila
It was not the lively drum beat that was familiar to my senses or the wailing or soothing cry of a piano but the Koto, Shakuhachi and the Sho, three traditional Japanese musical instruments that captivated the hearts of the audience at the Elphinstone Theatre on the September 12 with the “Sounds of traditional Japan today.”
The event was organised by the Embassy of Japan and the Japan Foundation to introduce Japanese culture to the world. Three Japanese artists who have gone and travelled beyond tradition played these three instruments. The Koto was played by Ali Kajigano, the Shoe was played by Naoyuki Manabe and the Shakuhachi was played by Hiromu Motonaga. They produced new modern melodies using traditional Japanese instruments.
It is not the music that you can snap your fingers to or dance to a particular rhythm, in here you just can’t look for rhythm. It is the inner you they touch with their melodies. It is the sea breeze, the seashore, waves, water with their salty taste, the cool wind with its smell - you can feel the world moving with their ordinary routines. It is ordinary. The melodies were ordinary. There wasn’t anything magical in the music, but yet it had life. There was life in the notes they composed. The beating of a heart, the flappling of bird wing- a Crane perhaps, and the soft breathing of a child and a prayer, a wailing prayer made to the moon - perhaps asking for peace. There was spirit, there was the feeling of blood running or moving down your veins but above all this, there was life in the melodies they composed. In its own way, it was magical.
These are the melodies that make you meditate in their glory. It brings an inner peace that makes you relax and enjoy the harmonious sensation within you with the sound of the music that touches and relates to your soul. Sadness, laughter, smiles and tears were all composed by these artists in melody, pictures were painted without paintbrush or word, but with mere tunes, notes hailing from the ancient country of Japan.
The music they create through their talents and through these instruments sings the sounds of modern life and nature. Two very different aspects of life indeed, but they brought out the conflict between these two worlds and showed the union of these ordinary and eternal truths through their melodies.


Tapestries of tradition

By Rukshana Rizwie Pix by Nissanka Wijerathne
“He recomposes a new imagery coherent with contemporary sensibility and new technology. Hence the traditions that do not remain behind us but within us produce out of us new signs and new aesthetic orders.” Famous Italian Designer Bruno Munari the author of Design as Art thus said describing the tapestry.
Those words truly resonate only when one touches the intricate works on each handmade cotton tapestry by Tilak Samarawickrema. Although he has spent many of his years in Italy creating a strong presence of Sri Lankan tapestry, each of his works still embody both the motifs and colours of costumes still worn today by the islanders. His distinct art style is infused with contemporary trends in architecture and designs. It weaves the rich traditions of a culturally diverse country intricately with delightful and unique flavour. Tilak Samarawickrema’s latest art collection was showcased at the Paradise Road Gallery this past week.
It was only nine years ago in October, when Tilak held his first exhibition in Sri Lanka. The exhibition featured his modern woven art in a spectrum of colours, combination and coordination. When Tilak returned to Sri Lanka he engaged himself with traditional craftspeople in Talagune Uda Dumbara, to produce hand woven tapestries for international market. He was able to rescue these weavers with indigenous skill that were fast dying out to produce exquisite artistry and design. So far this is the only village that continues to keep the tradition alive.
In his latest collection, Tilak again captures the sights and sounds of the island, in symmetrical shapes with a potpourri of cool colours. A few black and white tapestries tantalize the viewer too while they try to decipher an expression from it.
H. A. I. Goonetileke writing about the drawings and etchings of Tilak Samrawickrema said: “In Tilak’s cornucopia of pregnant line, whether surrealist or not, the seemingly pure graphic medium dissolves quickly into the most visual form that idea, feeling and language are capable of assuming. One learns to read his draughtsmanship because it possesses the function of literature — it has a literacy origin, it appears to grow out of the activity of the body, and is rooted in its intelligence.”
Tilak Samarawickrema who holds a masters degree in architecture lived in Italy from 1971 to 1983. His tapestries were first exhibited at the SHED design gallery in Milan in 1992 and were later marketed through DESIGN STORE of the Museum of Modern Art New York for many years. Two international museums have held personal exhibitions of his work. Deutsches Textile museum Krefeld Germany in 1995 and the Norsk Form Architecture and Design Museum in Oslo in 1998.


Handloom splendour

Pushpa Malagamuwa designed the bridal retinue for Achila Herath when she married Uresh Halloluwa in Kurunegala recently. Picture shows Achila in a Turquoise blue handloom Kandyan saree with a design in mustard. The bride wore turquoise and gold Indian jewellery and carried a turquoise blue lamp decorated with strands of jasmine.