Lake Diyawanna

A mélange of art and politics

By Sarasi Paranamanna
On a bright sunny morning an artist had been wandering around Lake Diyawanna and after finding a location to work on his art he had settled with his canvas and paint brush. Alas his focus was disturbed by a group of army personnel and who had started questioning him about his business near Lake Diyawanna. After learning the artist’s purpose near Lake Diyawanna he was left free to do his job.

The result of this incident was an art exhibition. “After that disturbance, thoughts started flowing into my mind and I wanted to portray not only the beauty of the lake but how it stands amidst the political, societal changes. I wanted to explore the beauty of Diyawanna in a new dimension,” said artist Susil Senanayake.
Susil said he is inspired by what he sees everyday. He noted that nature, everyday happenings in the country become food for thought and objects of inspiration for his creations. It was clear that he is an artist who appreciates nature as all paintings on the canvas bore illustrations of the lake with bold and thick brush strokes. However he had broken the monotonous pattern of the lake’s illustrations by portraying it different angles.

This intriguing collection of paintings was on display at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery on June 18 and 19, 2011. Susil who is a professional artist, is a graduate from Visual Arts Faculty of the University of Visual and Performing Arts. He said he is willing to explore new ideas and new styles. The paintings of Diyawanna Lake is one such attempt by Susil as he said he wanted to exhibit features of modern art in his latest collection.
Great artists like Vandort and Andrew Nicholls have created breathtaking illustrations of landscapes and Susil’s attempt in this exhibition had been to explore landscape illustration while depicting them in different angels. He has used a striking colour to depict the central landscape and other mat colours are used to illustrate the shades of the central landscape.

All these landscape illustrations’ dark colours are at the lower part of the canvas which gives a depth to the pictures like the silent depth in Lake Diyawanna.
The illustrations contain both dark and bright coloured contexts and in some paintings he has just used black cloudlike images which have a transparent quality. All these variations to the initial landscape; the areas around Lake Diyawanna explicitly show how Susil has seen the Diyawanna in social, political and artistic contexts.
The exhibition was indeed a journey to a new ground and it further proved that artists have both the ability and liberty to see and display their interpretations of imagery which we pass everyday in an indifferent manner.

(Pix by Ravindra Dharmathilake)


Lailat al Mi’raj

The ascent of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

By Shabna Cader
Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) ascension to heaven following the night journey is known in Islam as Al Mi’raj or Ascension. It occurred during a rough and perilous time of his life; the year in which his paternal Uncle Abu Talib and his wife Kadijah passed away (sometime in the year 619 CE) as well as the year when the protection of his clan could not be relied upon any longer. In this dark period of his life, his spirituality intensified concluding with what is known as Al Mi’raj in the Islamic Calendar.
This miraculous and spiritual journey is only mentioned very briefly in the Holy Qur’an:
Glory to Allah
Who did take his Servant
For a journey by night
From the Sacred Mosque
To the Farthest Mosque
Whose precincts we did
Bless – in order that we
Might show him some
Of our signs
Al-Isra (The Night Journey) Suraj 17, verse 1
The story goes as follows – Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was woken by the angel Jibril (Gabriel) during the night of the 27th lunar month of Rajab and taken on a journey from Mecca to Jerusalem. According to the Islamic calendar, a day begins on the sunset of the previous day so even though Lailat al Mi’raj falls on June 28 (Tuesday) it will be celebrated on the sunset of June 27 (Monday).
This was not known to be a physical journey but a journey in the spiritual sense of the highest form. He travelled on a mythical creature known as the ‘buraq’ – a donkey with wings – that took him from the Kaabah, Mecca to the farthest mosque Al Aqsa (at the time) in Jerusalem, where he performed ‘salat’ (prayers) with previous prophets in Islam, namely Adam, Ibrahim, Musa, Isa and a few others. After performing prayers Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was taken to the heaven where he was told of how to rightly perform the daily prayers; initially the prescribed times of prayer was fifty per day but it was brought down to five (each pray counting for ten and negotiated by Moses to ease the difficulty of his people) and was also given an insight of what ‘jannah’ (heaven) looks like. He was then returned to his home; a man full of knowledge and deep faith as well as a purified heart and soul.
The disbelievers found it hard to fathom how this journey has occurred and a suitable opportunity to disbelieve his preaching further. They questioned and pestered him the entire time; however the believers found nothing unusual about it at all.
This day is celebrated in the simplest manner with congregational prayers in mosques and homes. Lights are often dimmed and devotees recite prayers as well as ‘hadith’ (sayings of the Prophet (PBUH). Discussions are also held, where details of his ascension are talked of as well as his spirituality and immense faith in Islam.
Sources – A Brief Guide to Islam by Paul Grieve
The Sealed Nectar by Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri