13th February 2000
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Look and there's beauty

By Ayesha R. Rafiq
An Indian princess lost in thought. A hunter standing proud and strong with his trusty catapult, a turbaned tribal hunter with a bow and sheaf of deadly arrows. A chunam decorated mahout with his equally elaborately painted elephant. A snake charmer and monkey trainer. 

Scenes of traditional Indian life disappearing fast, lost in layers of an increasingly cosmopolitan and mainstream way of life.

A cursory glance at the photographs by Marcus Leatherdale now on display at the Paradise Road Galleries and you wish you had more time, to stand on a street corner and take them in, each in its individual beauty.

An internationally renowned photographer who divides his time between India, Canada and New York, he abruptly switched from photographing celebrities and high fashion icons to move to India in the early '90s. Capturing various aspects of Indian life, his work reveals extreme depth and feeling. 

The strength in Marcus's portraits is that he brings distinction to the unremarkable. The question of 'that's so beautiful, why haven't I seen it before?' is bound to spring to mind. And where does the inspiration, the ability to see into hearts and souls so deeply, come from? "I guess what guided me into this line is the fact that there is so much beauty around us that people miss, that given the time to look, they would know what a fascinating culture they live in, instead of being embroiled in everyday petty concerns," says an assertive Marcus.

While most of Marcus' work centres on relatively innocuous and sometimes commonplace scenes, there are a few portraits which perplex. Like the guru with a walking stick in one hand with his foot resting on a skull, or pictures of skulls on a table. Is it some bizarre sense of humour, or is he through photographic art trying to tell us something? If he is though, there is no explanation forthcoming and one is left to draw one's own conclusions. 

Yet Marcus' work is extraordinary. It serves to remind one of so much in Indian and Sri Lankan culture that is quietly but surely dying a slow death. So much beauty lost, that one makes a silent resolve to look and appreciate it the next time, before it's too late. 

Marcus Leatherdale's exhibition continues till February 28. 

Once again it's time for young talent

The Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka will hold its fourth biennial Concerto Competition for young performers, from May 21 to May 28 at the Ladies College Hall, Colombo 3. The event is sponsored by Lanka Orix Leasing Company Ltd. This competition was inaugurated in 1994 to encourage young musicians to study and perform challenging musical compositions featuring their respective instruments. It was also to provide a platform for promising young talent. 

The winners of the last competition were Pritiva Attiken (piano), Rashika Perera (cello) and Tharanga Goonatilleke (soprano). 

The competition this year is open to pianists and players of orchestral string and wind instruments who are 30 years and below and also to singers, of 35 years and below on January 2000. 

The competition will consist of two rounds and finalists in the instrumental categories will be required to perform a concerto whilst singers will perform works written for voice and orchestra. The winner of each category will receive a cash prize of Rs. 25,000 presented by LOLC and will be featured as soloist at the Young Performers Concert later this year. 

Application forms, prescribed works and rules governing the competition could be obtained from the Symphony Orchestra's office at No. 10, Alwis Place, Colombo 3. The closing date for applications will be March 31, 2000. 

Big and colourful, kids will love it

By Laila Nasry
Keeping little kids occupied is a challenge, given their numerous questions and never diminishing energy. That's where children's storybooks play an invaluable role. Not only are they of great educational value but the big, colourful illustrations are just what is needed for the ever expanding imagination of children. Simple stories written in big letters are ideal for encouraging the reading habit among young 'uns. 

"The Little Butterfly" by Theodore Warnakulasuriya stands out among others of its kind. The text comes in Sinhala, Tamil and English, encouraging children to learn other languages. This also seems to be a timely move on the part of the author, in an era when even language is perceived as a barrier. 

The author popularly known as Theodore S.J., is a household name among children. His first book "Binduta Hari Pudumai" printed in 1981 sold 3,000 copies in just three months. 

"The Little Kite" his first and Sri Lanka's first trilingual book published in 1985, won the BIB Awards in 1987 for its illustrations. The wonderful response to his books has prompted him to have them published in the Philippines as well. All his stories have been approved as supplementary readers for children by the Department of Education in Sri Lanka. He has also produced two audio cassettes of children's songs. 

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