An intimate artistic expression

By Randima Attygalle
In Kumar de Silva’s words, his capturing of France on the ‘lens’ is a ‘triple celebration of the Francophone and Francophile’ in him - 25 years since he joined the Embassy of France, 25 years since he began hosting much acclaimed Bonsoir in ITN and 25 years since he first set foot in Paris.
The celebration is indeed mutual for Kumar and Alliance Francaise de Kotte - latter which launched its cultural season for 2011 with Nostalgie - a refreshing experience of black and white photographs by Kumar, encapsulating France in its historical and cultural grandeur, spiced up with scenic beauty.
“I never thought of myself as a photographer, but then it dawned on me that January, 2011 is a significant month, a triple celebration for me,” says Kumar.

Nostalgie has indeed done justice to its title, 30 black and white photographs taken over a decade (2000 to 2010) transporting the viewer through myriad vistas of Paris, Britanny and Montpellier.
The Bohemian in the photographer seems to come alive in ‘The feel and crackle of hay’, Bridge over Canal St Martin, Paris , Sheep grazing on ‘slated grass’ on the shores of Brittany, Chilled wine on a hot summer’s day , The lady by the fireplace- landscape, cuisine, history and human emotion offered in a rich concoction.
From Alfresco lunch on the banks of Canal St Martin to Countryside off Montpellier is quite a leap, the contrast of scene and mood captured in the fine photographic textures. The ‘impulsiveness’ of Kumar’s efforts is apparent, pure unconsciousness of the moment frozen delightfully on the lens.

Conceirge takes an afternoon break- portrayal of an ordinary woman immersed in a book in a park, Sleeping champagne in the cellars of the House of Dom Perignon- bottles of champagne stacked in rows, hardly ‘photographic’ in mundane existence are connoted novel interpretations.
Whether it’s Chapel turned boutique Hotel Brittany, Joan of Arc charges towards Louvre or Sunbathing in Strasbourg, the art of effortless photography is evident in Kumar’s work, making the viewer feel at home with them, even those completely alien to the French landscape.
The black and white memoirs are a perfect blend of diversity, simplicity, grandeur, in tune with the photographer’s natural flare in capturing them.
Nostalgia is in abundance in every captured scene, stemming from a deeply rooted sense of sensitivity towards the backdrop in which they are found.

An intimate artistic expression, Nostalgie entices the viewer to share the same.
“France has been my spiritual home in a sense, ever since the day I set foot there 25 years ago. I do speak the language and, along the years, that enabled me to plunge first-hand into its culture without the help of translators and translations. It must be some remote karmic force that made this bond really happen. I love the French verb flaner. It literally means ‘to stroll, wander around’ and that’s what I love doing in Paris particularly, exploring little known churches and chapels, cobblestone streets, wayside inns, reveling off the beaten track ,” reminisces Kumar with unmistakable nostalgia.

For Kumar, the medium of black and white is a more exhilarating and exciting experience than the ‘coloured’ with the minutely different and contrasting layers of gray juxtaposed in between the black and the white.
“I love the texture and the feel of grays,” he adds. Being the media icon Kumar is, photography seems to be an added complement to his versatile persona, the maiden effort claiming finesse.
Talking about his future photographic endeavours, Kumar said, “I intend to showcase an exhibition annually and have already started working on a Sri Lankan them for 2012 and a French theme for 2013”.
Nostalgie is open to the public till February 6. (Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm)


A work in progress

Readings from some of Roger McGough’s work

Pic and text by Shabna Cader
I never imagined I’d be able to sit down and listen to a reading by UK’s renowned and most celebrated poet but it happened; thanks to the British Council and also the organisers of the Galle Literary Festival. Roger McGough is one of UK’s most loved poets for both adults and children alike and is also well known as a performance poet.
He was regarded as the ‘patron saint of poetry’ by Carol Ann Duffy and ‘a true original’ by The Times.
I’m told he is reputed for his humour as much as his humility.
After a few readings and ‘performances’ from a selection of new and unpublished work, I’d also like to add that his comic timing is impeccable too.

The Railing

You came to watch me play cricket once
Quite few of the fathers did
..... Fielding deep near the boundary I saw you through the railing
You were embarrassed when I waved
And moved out of sight down the road
When it was my turn to bowl though
I knew you’d still be watching
Third ball a wicket and three more followed
When we came in at the end of the innings
The other dads applauded and joined us for tea
Of course you had gone by then
Later you said you found yourself there by accident
Just passing
Spotted me, through the railing
Pitch days, prize giving, school play
The 21st, the wedding, the christening
You’d find yourself there
By accident
Just passing
Spotted me through the railing

As he begins to speak and perform a poem titled ‘In Case of Fire’, one can simply let go of pretentions and worries and listen to the man who is known to be down to earth, witty, ironic and sceptical. There is mischievous word play, and he carries on without looking at a paper like as if he’s reading from his own mind. Its catchy phrases and sentences; the audience laughs as sentence after sentence rolls out of his tongue. His expression and mannerisms are simultaneously humorous and very insightful. It adds both colour and life into the words he speaks aloud.
He began speaking of the mobile free compartment on the subway. “A lady got in, got out her mobile and started calling all her friends. I tried to point to all the signs that said ‘no mobile phones’ but she didn’t seem to bother. So I thought I’d write her a poem!”:
The Quiet Zone
With respect this is a quiet zone
And although when travelling on your own
It’s nice to have a good ol’ chat with someone on the phone
This is the quiet zone
Shhhhhh.....quiet says the signs
On every table, window and door
And obviously nothing to do with mobiles
......shhhhhh quiet with respect
Can’t you read the sign?

“It took my about an hour to write the poem and by this time she had stopped talking on the phone; she was instead looking out the window of the compartment. But I thought anyways I will give her the poem. Do you know what she immediately did? She took out her mobile phone and run out her friends!” he added and had the audience in a fit of laughter.
His poems range from how he learnt to read living in Liverpool during the war, about sacrifices, relationships between his father and himself (how he wanted him to become a championship boxer!), about growing old, seizing life’s moments, dealing with diseases, his family, about death, poetry for children (quite humorous) and much more.

A Fine Romance

Excuse me darling in advance
For this slow macabre dance
I may one day lead you into
Holding you to tight for comfort
....... If I should call you
By another’s name
A lover’s perhaps
From many years ago
Don’t’ be startled
It’ just a slip of the moonlight
.....should I fail to recognise you
Curse, complain or step on your toes
Forgive me I didn’t mean to
For this is a fine romance
Despite the slow macabre dance
I may one day lead you into

Whilst doing some research on some of his work, I came across multiple reviews of his collections that spoke of how his use of humour has evolved throughout his career, and his deceptively simple, quirky and witty style incorporates all manner of serious issues and perceptive insights. He seems to avoid anger and bitterness and takes a whole new approach to life; life as to how he sees it. The most apt, one that he read aloud:

The Way Things Are
No, the candle is not crying, it cannot feel pain
even telescopes, like the rest of us, grow bored
Bubblegum will not make the hair soft and shiny
the duller the imagination, the faster the car
I am your father and this is the way things are...
Although it might seem as if McGough is cynical and ‘kills’ a child’s imagination, there is a sense of compassion hidden between the lines. ‘Everyday Eclipses’ was another poem that addressed daily life and people’s perspectives. It speaks of not just the total eclipse itself but also various other sorts of ‘eclipses’ in everyday life; of how everyday eclipses another day and one death eclipses another death, one birth eclipses another birth.
“What is exciting about writing a poem is not knowing what’s going to happen at the end” McGough expressed, “sometimes when you’re reading a poem it doesn’t seem quite right. I go back and look at it. So when it feels like it’s not right, it’s not finished. Generally I use a pen and paper cause I find that typing on a computer makes it looks too finished, like it’s already published. Whereas on paper, it comprises of all the mistakes and lines cut off and it’s nice to be able to come back to them a year later and see how they’ve changed or altered”.

About Roger McGough
McGough is a Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University and is a Vice President of the Poetry Society. He was recently honoured with the Freedom of the City of Liverpool. His poetry has been translated much indeed and has gained increasing popularity, especially from its widespread use in schools. McGough is also twice winner of the Signal Award for best children’s poetry book and recipient of the Cholmondeley Award.
His autobiography Said And Done (Century) explores overnight fame with Lily The Pink, The Scaffold and Yellow Submarine which he helped write for the Beatles. He encounters Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Marlon Brando, Allen Ginsberg, Pete McCarthy and Salman Rushdie amongst others.


‘Celeb Chat’ with Dr Sarath Amunugama

Public servant, media specialist, scholar and politician par excellence, senior minister
Dr Sarath Amunugama makes a very relaxed appearance on Prime TV’s ‘Celeb Chat’ at 9.30pm tomorrow (31).
In a very candid, one-on-one chat, Dr Amunugama recalls his early education at Girls’ High School Kandy (!), and then Trinity College where he excelled in studies. Listen to him wax eloquent about the radical in him at the University of Peradeniya where he even led a strike which compelled Iron Chancellor Sir. Nicholas Attygalle to “renegotiate student rights”.
His work with the rural peasantry of Sri Lanka as a Government Agent of the Ceylon Civil Service under Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake ... his passion for social anthropology ... his love for literature, music, cinema and poetry ... his fluency in the French language … all this and more come under the spotlight as celebrity guest Dr Sarath Amunugama chats to host Kumar de Silva on Prime TV’s ‘Celeb Chat’.


Bandaranaike website launched

A website was launched recently to keep alive the memories of the fourth Prime Minister of independent Ceylon, S W R D Bandaranaike.
The website can be accessed at www.swrdbandaranaike.org.
It contains biographical information of the late Prime Minister including photographs and information about the other members of the Bandaranaike family.
Speeches and interviews given by the Prime Minister and books written about him are presented to the viewers. A detailed illustration of his political life is also given in the website.
It also gives out contact details and directions to the Bandaranaike Museum at the BMICH premises.


The Song Dance Sensation@ Margarita Blue

His career began in 1972 while in school he formed the band ‘Deep Radiance’ along with his brother Mahes Abeyswickrame, under the management of Malcolm Andrea.
An old boy of Prince of Wales Collage Moratuwa, Kirthie started displaying is knack for music at a very early age.
Building on his musical career, he moved to play with veterans in the local music scene from Golden Chimes, Sand Pipers, Joey and Friends, to Masquerade respectively.
In 1978, he went on to join ‘Desmond and the Clan’ where he toured Kathmandu, Nepal, and performed in Norway and Denmark as well.
Three years from then ‘Desmond and the Clan’ was renewed to “CHASE” and the band started travelling actively around Europe performing in Norway, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, Austria and Germany doing what they did best.
Growing in popularity and demand, Kirthie and his men won the hearts of many a number of fans with their celebrated acts of mimicking the all time favourites of the international music scene from Elvis, to MJ to even Tina Turner.
Deciding to settle down in Germany, Kirthie then moved on to form his own band “KinÂŽn Chain” in which he played a duel role as lead vocalist and manager, and continued to tour the world winning the hearts of many.
After a lapse of 12 years since performing with “KinÂŽn Chain” he went on to form “KitÂŽn Sunrise” along with his friends Susantha Perera, Anura Herat, and Musha Yehiya.
Kirthie personally believes on having a lot of fun on stage and loosing himself completely in the spur of the moment. His great ability lies in imitating idols in the international music arena from Elvis to Michael Jackson to Tina Turner. Yes you read it right, Tina Turner! Going all out of his way to bring out the total experience of these icons, his act comes complete with the ankle length pants, white socks doing the moonwalk or imitating Elvis in his white jumpsuit, cape and ton of rhinestones to Tina Turner complete with her tight fitting mini dress, high heeled shoes and big hair. The Michael Jackson/ Tina Turner act is said to be a massive crowed puller, especially in the nightclub scene in Europe.
As Kirthie himself puts it “Since 1981 i am crazy of doing these acts on stage, and most of my audience have never seen the ugly side of them.. So here I am doing what I do” Well “HERE HE IS INDEED”! Kirthie Abeywickrama, the song, dance sensation will be performing at the Margarita Blue along with Mirage from February 2 to 5.
If you are looking to loosen up and let that bottled up craziness out, over a few drinks and absolutely great music, then the Margarita Blue is the place to be.
Come one come all and catch the action as he mimics those legendary personalities with his own touch of class.