A revelation, it certainly was
7 p.m. on a Friday evening and the Park Street Mews is buzzing with the opening of REVEAL, an exhibition dedicated to displaying the creative portfolios of the AOD(Academy of Design) graduating class of 2012 for leaders of the industry.
A quick glance around the Mews Warehouse and it would be hard to be unimpressed by the sheer breadth of design talent Sri Lanka is nurturing.
Each space is vibrant with the work of AOD’s young architects, fashion, interior and graphic designers and for the first time in the Academy’s history, photographers. Stewart Macleod, one of the Programme Leaders comments on the work produced by his fashion students, “The thing you notice with this batch in particular is the diversity in their work. Their collections are looking edgy and wearable. You can see that they understand clothing, which is very much what the course is about, as well as creativity. Anyone who likes fashion likes clothing before.”
AOD students are instilled with a “skill set of creativity, professionalism and global industry standards”. The Academy’s partnership with Northumbria University School of Design UK aids the international scope it wishes to give its students and makes it unique amongst schools of its kind in offering top British design degrees that can be completed in Sri Lanka.
The exhibition makes clear that AOD students are looking to compete at the top level in their chosen fields and to be part of a global design market.
Seshadri Nithyananthan, whose dynamic collection of clothing is based on Hindu gods and insects aims to go abroad to work at international fashion houses. Similarly, for sportswear designer Isuru Liyanage, working in Britain or Italy, where the androgynous collections have served as inspiration to his own work, is his dream.
Whilst AOD students have a view to international design, they acknowledge too that now is a particularly exciting time for design in Sri Lanka. For Shanaz Fourze, amongst the first batch of photography graduates from AOD, the work of Chris Burgess in Sri Lanka, in particular his use of lighting has helped to shape the direction of her own portfolio. Other students are encouraged by the design possibilities in Sri Lanka. Graphic designer, Shanika Perera says, “Normally graphic design students have no choice apart from joining an advertising agency. Graphic design is so new here that there are not many studios. I think a lot of us would hope to open up these studios.”
REVEAL in its extensive display of talent and creativity revealed the opportunity for design in this country to provide employment for youth and its potential to take its rightful place in the market.
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