‘A brush with
art V’ showcases artists of all ages
By Lakna Paranamanna
“Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the
painter’s soul.” – Vincent Van Gogh.
the ability to paint, they say is a gift of God because
mastering it is quite a difficult task to do.
Kumari De Alwis is an artist who mastered this craft and has
been passing on that gift to many who are keen in the field, for
nearly 20 years. Throughout these many years of her career,
teaching in Sri Lanka as well as several other countries like
Pakistan and Germany, she must have moulded countless artists
and helped to groom their talents. As a part of her venture she
organises an exhibition of paintings to showcase the talents of
‘A Brush With Art V’ – is an exhibition that will be featuring
paintings of artists of a wide range of ages. However, their
differences in age don’t seem to have posed an obstacle to their
talent. Most of the paintings seemed to bear an influence of
western themes and landscapes. Calm and serene lakes with fields
that stretch out as far as your eyes can see, a gigantic ship
anchored in a sea and ruins of our historic cities of
Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, that capture the majesty of that
long gone dynasty.
Ramani Fernando had been always a very passionate lover of art.
She had been able to bring out that passion in a more fruitful
manner after her encounter with this wonderful teacher. “I have
been studying under her right throughout.
I am so fortunate to have trained under such a teacher, because
more than teaching she inspires us and draws out the best in
us”, said Fernando.
This exhibition features her collection of work for the past
three years. She said that she likes painting landscapes most of
all, and her favourite medium is oil paints, because she is able
to bring out the texture of the landscapes she draws in a more
Hiranthi Jayasekara said that she had never been particularly
interested in drawing. “I was continuing lessons on pottery when
my friend told me about this teacher and I felt as if I wanted
to try her out,” recalled Jayasekara. She has been continuing
lessons with Kumari for nearly four years now. She said that she
has developed a liking towards painting portraits, pointing at
an oil painting she had done of a lady who was sitting near a
Some of the artists, have been keen fans of art since their
childhoods while some others had developed a knack for it only
after trying it out.
But they all share one thing in common: the passion to learn
something new everyday.
Chandani Mudalige, Srimathi Jayasuriya, Ilma Fhazi and Samantha
Serasinghe are some of the new faces at this exhibition. They
said that this is the first time that they would be displaying
their paintings in an exhibition. They have all mastered oil
paints under Kumari and said that they are really excited about
‘A Brush With Art V’ will be held at the Lionel Wendt on the
June 28th and 29th and will be open to all the lovers of art
from 10.00 a.m . - 8.00 p.m on each day.
Transforming thoughts into forms
is a very simple man. He thinks simply, also he acts simply. He
contrives simple thoughts, being firmly rooted in our own
culture. He transforms those thoughts into forms utilising
simple material – paper and ballpoint pen. Those forms fall into
the artistic genre of line-drawings. Those line-drawings
penetrate the eye, mind and mind’s eye of a lover of art as they
are compelling pieces of art. The man behind the creation of
these art pieces is Chandana Ranaweera, who is fondly referred
to by his fans as ‘Chandana.’
Chandana hails from Alawwa, a well-known township in the
He is currently getting ready for his forthcoming art
exhibition. He hopes to showcase around 30 pieces of
line-drawings at this event, which is to take place in Colombo,
towards the latter part of this year.
A lover of art
holds Int’l Young Fashion Entrepreneur award for 2nd time
The British Council Sri Lanka announced the International Young
Fashion Entrepreneur (IYFE) award 2009 for the second
consecutive year last week.
Acting Director of the British Council, Duncan Wilson said that
the main reason for organising an event of this sort was to
offer opportunities and develop the next generation of the
fashion world and the business in Sri Lanka. “Sri Lanka has a
very strong chance of competing and that is why we thought of
bringing down this event for the second time in Sri Lanka,”
The IYFE offers an exciting opportunity to a young Sri Lankan
entrepreneur in the 25 to 35 age category in the field of
fashion. This award forms part of a global British Council award
which seeks to champion and celebrate the importance of creative
entrepreneurs working in the field of fashion. Participants can
be drawn from various areas of the Fashion sector including
fashion textile, accessories productions and design, fashion
promotion, fashion marketing, fashion publishing for this award.
The First National winner of the IYFE award 2008, which was held
last year, was Darshi Keerthisena. She said that this
opportunity gave her a chance to carry the Batik industry of Sri
Lanka into another level and also the publicity and the
credibility to take it to an international level. “I got the
chance to meet one of the pioneers of the fashion world on the
tour to London, Sir Paul Smith. Those are once-in-a- lifetime
opportunities. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to
get the chance to attend the London Fashion Week,” added
Keerthisena with a big smile.
She said that it was very inspiring to listen to the seminars
and the lectures that they attended and to know that even those
pioneers of the field had started off with a small boutique of
clothes before hitting the International arena of fashion. She
further said that the tour also gave her an opportunity to
create business partnerships with other contestants around the
globe. This year too, the Sri Lankan winner will be one of the
ten international finalists that would participate in the IYFE
and will compete in London for the title of the International
Young Fashion Entrepreneur 2009.
For more information on the IYFE award, eligibility, entry
details and application forms, log on to www.britishcouncil.org/srilanka-arts-and-culture-iyfe09
or call Ranmaal 4521542 or Ranmali 4521538 .The closing date for
the applicants of the IYFE awards will be September 15th 2008.
Shattered Earth - By
Reviewed by Carol Aloysius
Of the many years that
P.G. Punchihewa, a former Civil Servant spent in some of the
remotest and undeveloped villages in Sri Lanka, his three year
period ( 1967-70) of service, as G.A. in the Moneragala
district, was perhaps his most enduring memory.
This brief period, provided him the inspiration, material and
background for ‘The Shattered Earth’, his latest English
publication. The book is a translation of his Sinhala version,
Gana Bol Polowa.
The story revolves around a single character Kirisanda, a chena
cultivator. Yet, in a broader sense, it is the story of the
poverty stricken, landless, peasants of Wellassa and their
struggle to withstand the onslaught of external forces, that
came in the guise of development.
Narrating the story, as seen through the eyes of the most hard
working peasant in the village, Kirisanda, gives immediacy and
relevance to the pathetic plight of the peasants. Like the rest
of the villagers, Kirisanda also falls victim to the development
oriented policies of the Government, implemented through Colombo
based entrepreneurs, backed by bureaucracy.
How was Moneragala forty years ago?. Moneragala, with its land
area of 2785 sq. miles, was then the second largest
administrative district in the island. Economically and
socially, it was also the poorest, with the minimum of
“The entire district had only 165 schools with a ratio of one
per 17 square miles. The district hospital had one doctor, two
apothecaries and no nurses, while the nearest base hospital in
Badulla was 40 miles away. Neither pipe borne water, nor
electricity was available in the town and the villages.
The area under irrigated paddy was only 6000 acres, with the
total area under paddy cultivation being less than 20,000 acres.
The majority of the population depended on chena cultivation,”
is how the author describes this bleak, neglected district, in
his opening chapter.
To fast track the development process, and help the villagers,
the Government decided to bring in private entrepreneurs. This
modernisation effort, however had repercussions on the hapless
villagers, who were unaware about the adverse effects, it could
bring about. In the process, they lost their only and
traditional source of income and sustenance, their paddy lands
and their homes, in which they had lived for generations.
For Kirisanda the change was especially traumatic. As the “ best
chena cultivator in the entire village”, he, more than other
villagers, was passionately attached to his chena, which he had
cultivated with loving care.
It was an attachment that had grown and nurtured for many years.
“ From the days of his father, he had been in and out of the
chena, which his father cultivated, At first, he accompanied his
father for fun. But now it was his livelihood and a must.”
Like most of the villagers, Kirisanda, a father of four
children, two boys and two girls, had only one thing to offer
his children, as security for the future; the piece of crown
land he had inherited from his father. The land, a grant from
the government, however, came with certain stipulations; it
couldn’t be sub divided and could only go to one male member of
“ I nominated the elder son to inherit the two acres. If I fail
to educate the younger one, what will happen to him? These lands
are given under a permit and cannot be sub divided. What will
happen to my wife, if I predecease her?” Kirisanda asks himself,
when he hears the bad news.
It was thus not surprising that, he refused to give it up- even
to the new Company which had purchased it in the name of
‘Development’, and in spite of assurances from the G.A. to allay
“ But Hamuduruwane, we don’t want them to be given our land. Our
children will not be left even with an inch of land”, he pleads
with the G.A., who he goes to meet in his office.
“ No that won’t happen. According to the file. there is still
land available for the villagers.”
It turned out that this assurance too, was another false
promise. For unknown to them, their fate had already been
“ Hamuduruwane, Mantrithuma (MP) told us that, he will see that
this land is not released to the company”.
The GA suppressed a smile. The decision to lease two thousand
acres had already been made by the Ministry of Lands in Colombo.
“ I will reply to the Manthrithuma. I will ask the D.R.O
Mahatthaya to look into this.” .
The G.A, , as well as the Company which had bought the land, on
the other hand, genuinely believed that, the development process
was for the good of the villagers, even though they did not know
this. After his meeting with Kirisanda, he told himself, “ If
the Company restored the tank, it will benefit the entire
village. They will have adequate and a regular supply of water
to bathe and drink. The Company will improve the road leading to
the village. The villagers will be able to sell their produce at
a higher price, to the traders”...
Kirisanda’s final appeal was to the Gramasevaka.
“ Ralahamy can’t they leave my plot and take the rest?”, he asks
“ I don’t think they’ll agree. Those gentleman want to clear
about 500 acres , at one stretch. They say it is not possible to
leave patches here and there.”
Kirisanda’s reply is both poignant and shows his willingness, to
take a stand as a lone crusader, for his rights.
“ Ralahamy you are worried about the losses to those gentlemen.
There is nobody to worry about us, who live by tilling the hard
earth. I will not leave my chena until I pick the last chili. If
their tractor goes over my chena it will be over my dead body”.
Apart from losing their chenas and their paddy lands, they
become victims of a culture shock. An outside gang of labourers
from Gampaha are brought into the village to help clear the
chenas. Their city oriented ideas, clash with the simple rustic
values of the villagers. The workers also pose a threat to the
young girls, when they begin teasing and ogling them, when they
come to bathe in the village tank.
The modesty of the simple village folk is further outraged, by
their skimpy modern bathing suits .“ How can our women go and
bathe among them, when we also feel too shy, to do so? Their
underwear is not like our amude. It exposes more than what it
covers.” This whisper by middle aged Dingiriya in Ausadhamy’s
ear, sums up the fears and anxieties of the villagers.
Punchihewa’s book is a wealth of interesting, useful and little
known facts about village life, in the far flung districts of
Sri Lanka. It also gives the reader, a rare insight of a country
in transition. Written at the time, when the country was still
experimenting with various methods, to replace the traditional
slash and burn cultivation methods of chena cultivators like
Kirisanda, with more scientific agricultural methods, we get an
insight both into the difficulties, that those early crusaders
of development faced ; and the tribulations the peasantry
underwent because of that process.
Punchihewa’s book with its appropriate cover photo of an
abandoned chena, by well known photographer Nihal Fernando, is
above everything else, a valuable sociological document. It
deserves pride of place in all educational and research