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Record breaking artist faces new beginning

Walter Kulasooriya, an artist with a vision

Walter Kulasooriya never thought that the lines he drew would go for a world record one day. But his destiny put him in the Guinness Book of world records. Walter hailing from Narammala in the Kurunegala district was able to do his motherland proud by sketching the longest painting in the world. His painting depicting the Sinharaja forest found a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1996 as it was found to be the longest painting (100 metres).

But unfortunately, this world record holder who had been a tsunami victim last year had lost his newly built 'Visiki' art gallery which was ceremonially opened at Ahangama in September last year and also a large number of paintings ready to display at an exhibition in Germany in June this year.

With a desperate look Walter came to see us recently, seeking assistance from the 'Daily News' to unfold his pathetic story to the world. "When the tsunami waves hit on that fateful day, I was at home with my wife. My wife and me, we both hang on to a wooden pillar on the roof to escape from the waves. My art gallery and several paintings that were ready to exhibit in Germany got washed away with the waves in seconds," he said.

His expressions on tsunami

Apart from the tragedy by the tsunami waves to Walter's life, looters in the area too have robbed him badly. "I can calm myself thinking tsunami was a natural disaster, but there were certain people who had used this opportunity to their advantage. I was robbed of my computer and several other household items as well," he said.

Explaining his career Walter said: "I received my primary education at Mahananneriya Sinhala Mixed School and then joined Christ Church Vidyalaya in Kurunegala for higher studies. I gained admission to the College of Fine Arts in 1959. Meanwhile I worked for many advertising agencies. Then I did portrait painting under the able guidance of Stanley Abeysinghe and fine honed my skills in mural paintings under Henry Dharmasena".

After opening a batik shop in Koggala, he spent his leisure on drawings which attracted many tourists to the shop.

During the past three decades Walter has held seven art exhibitions in Sri Lanka, Austria and Germany. Now he is planning to hold his next in Germany in July this year too.

Walter's creations can be viewed at Deer Park Hotel in Giritale, La Kandyan Hotel in Heerassagala and Central Bank in Colombo.

The destroyed art gallery and house

A small version of the Guinness Book of World Records is displayed at the Deer Park Hotel in Giritale. Walter has continuously won Presidential Awards for paintings from 1995 to 2000 organised by the Ceylon Art Society. He said that he was grateful to former Governor of the Central Bank A. S. Jayawardena, Founder of Sarvodaya A. T. Ariyaratne, MP for Habaraduwa Lionel Premasiri, Upali Mahanama and Jayasundara of Noity Gotchao Hotel for assisting him in difficult times after the tsunami struck to buy paints and several other equipment for the forthcoming exhibition.

The main objective he had, with the opening of the 'Visiki' art gallery was to assist artists to use it free of charge to display their exhibits. But all his original plans and objectives were destroyed by the tsunami waves. All his foreign contact details too have been washed away with the tsunami. If there is anyone willing to re-build his shattered dreams they can contact him at the following address:

Walter Kulasooriya, Visiki Art Gallery, Wijesinghe Mw., Kurunduwatta, Ahangama. Tel: 091-2282307 E mail: [email protected]


South Asian Women Artists' Exhibition

The above exhibition organised by Theertha International Artists' Collection is scheduled to open on June 9, 2005 at Finomenal Gallery, No. 35, Galle Face Court I, Galle Road, Colombo 3. It will be open for the public from June 10-19. An artist from India and two artists from Sri Lanka will take part in this exhibition.

Prabhavathi Meppayil

Prabhavathi Meppayil is an artist from Bangalore. She has obtained her BA in Psychology from Bangalore University and Diploma in Fine Arts from Ken School of Art. She has held several exhibitions in India and abroad, also has taken part in international residencies and workshops. "My works are in the traditional medium of painting, which is wall painting and Tempera on lime gesso panel.

The medium requires craftsmanship and well planned procedure, and involve the use of natural materials like lime, chalk and pigments which are pure and simple. The materials have a life of their own and to a certain extent they dictate the nature of the work. Working within these parameters is challenging for me.

As a painter, I feel today the option I am left is to look back and draw inspiration from the history of art, here only with reference to the traditional technique of painting. It has given me scope for exploration and reinvention of the old medium in a contemporary manner.

Sakunthala Galanga

Sakunthala Galanga is the other artist who takes part in this exhibition. She is currently studying Liberal Arts at Beacon House National University in Lahore, Pakistan. She has also studied Fine Arts at Vibhavi Academy of Fine Arts - Colombo and South Delhi Polytechnic for Women - India.

"My fascination for camera compel me to use video as my medium of art. Being away from home for sometime, the distant has made me to reflect upon myself and my roots. So I began a new journey, revisiting the places and memories, rediscovering the relationship. Touching the world with the eyes of video camera capturing the fleeting moment in moving frames, trying to connect... to reach myself.

Neranjala Gunasinghe Niranjala L. Gunasinghe is a graduate from Faculty of Fine Arts Kelaniya University and PG Diploma in Archaeology, currently working as an Assistant Director at the National Crafts Council. "My work is about babies. I see their clothes and other baby items to portrait their lives and to grasp this delight of the children in lower privilege stratus of the society.


'Merry An Singers' - Thanksgiving Service at St. Peter's Church - Fort

St. Peter's Church, a magnificent building (near the GOH) was constructed by the Dutch nearly 200 years ago. Subsequently it became the church of the British Admiralty who introduced the 'Missions to the seamen' - a home for sailors passing through Colombo. The three-foot wide walls, high gabled roof, embedded plaques and dinky pipe organ (now sadly out of order) convey an unmistakable aura of history and piety.

The 'Merry An Singers', a choir well-known for its wonderful arrangements of choral music will fill this edifice with vocal harmonies during their annual Thanksgiving service on Sunday June 12 at 6.00 p.m. Friends and well-wishers are invited to share time with them and enjoy this presentation. Parking will be on York Street, opposite McKinnon's. The preacher will be the Rev. Canon James Ratnanayagam.


Abans Tourist Hotel awarded the prize again

Abans Tourist Hotel which has been over the years winning the Annual Flower Competition held during the season at Nuwara Eliya, once again came for high reckoning at the recently held 'April Bloom'. This annual event is organised by the Nuwara Eliya Municipal Council and draws a mammoth crowd of holidaymakers from all over the country and foreign tourists.

The hotel is well loved for its beautifully landscaped garden of a wide variety of flowers and the ambient location woos many a foreigner. In this years competition the hotel received certificates of high recommendations in all, being placed second in the Commercial Land Category. Having won the overall championship in two consecutive years namely 2002 and 2003 (last year's event was not held), the garden enclave is maintained at the best standard possible despite the fluctuating climatic changes, which has been the concern for many land owners in this hill town. Managed by the Chairperson of Abans Group of Companies, Abans Pestonjee, the garden is groomed to perfection by Pakkiyam Thomas painstakingly throughout the year.

The hotel having spanned over 20 years caters exclusively to the foreign tourists providing the much neededcomfort and ease. Besides, the striking location on the slope of the hill, facing Lake Gregory, gives the visitor a captivating panoramic view of the city and easy access back and forth.


Two original plays at the Punchi Theatre

Shilpa Children's Trust presents Kelinitissa's Daughter and The Story of the Last Bus at the Punchi Theatre on Saturday, June 11 at 7 p.m. Shilpa Children's Trust, established in 1987, runs a Children's Home for 50 destitute girls, a Vocational Centre offering free courses to unemployed women and programs for the tsunami affected children in Hambantota.

One hears the often repeated comment that there's dearth of original local theatre.

If it is serious theatre that you are looking for an event not to be missed is the performance of two original plays: Kelanitissa's Daughter by Lakmali Gunawardene and Last Bus Eke Kathawe by Dhananjaya Karunaratna. In a sequence of events presented by the crisscrossing of spot lights across the performing space Kelenitissa's Daughter re-enacts and questions a much repeated and little mentioned incident from the Mahavamsa.

Among the somewhat stellar cast drawn from both Sinhala and English Theatre are Dinidu Jagoda giving a commanding performance as Kavantissa, Anjulie Guneratne rendering a naive but strong Princess Kalyani, searching to assert herself in another ruler's domain, Manel Jagoda in a supporting role as her kirimaw. Nimal Jayasinge as chief advisor to Kavantissa, Asoka Rodrigo and Rajindh Perera bringing earthy comments and colour as fisherman and Sandun Wijesiri as a monk seated from beginning to the end telling everyone I told you so from time to time. The overall effect is a superbly orchestrate grouping of voices, reading from scripts bound in chakra board, dressed in period costume.

The play is visually stunning while the music sets and mood before the sequences adding to the overall effect.

The language is mixed somewhat - 'If one is using achcharu in advertising why not in theatre says the playwright.

Amarawansa's story is told with sensitivity and wit, highlighting Sri Lanka's political culture and the plight of the common man. Through the use of local humour, satire and strong direct language, playwright Karunaratne unravels the power structures in modern urban life. It is an exciting piece of theatre that challenges actor and audience alike.

The play has received excellent reviews from critics and audience alike.

The play has also been performed in New Delhi India at the South Asians for Human Rights conference in November 2001, in Manchester England at 'Culture Shock', the Cultural Festival of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in July 2002 and most recently in Tokyo Japan in February 2004.


Brussels Lace and Hand Embroidery on show

The enduring quality of hand-made home linens has withstood the test of time. No matter what trends transit decor, the continuing appreciation and regard for all things hand-made, hand-embroidered and hand-embellished has always been prevalent.

Andrea Boekel has always believed in producing these beautiful items using local labour resources and exquisite materials at very affordable prices.

An exponent of textile art, Andrea has also imparted her textile decor knowledge in two major universities in Australia, where she is now resident.

Brussels Lace, in particular, is a highly prized item, which is almost prohibitively expensive in Europe, Andrea produces these beautiful items using fine European raw materials and considering the labour that goes into producing these pieces, they are amazingly affordable.

A small range of beautiful hand embroidered home linens embellished with Brussels Lace will be on sale on Saturday, June 11, 2005 from 9 a.m. at No. 16, Kinross Avenue, Colombo 4.


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