4th March 2001

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Celebrating women's space

The Women and Media Collective will celebrate women's creativity with an exhibition of the work of three women artists. The three artists, Vasuki Jeyshankar, Padma Rajapaksa, and Muditha Askin represent the ethnic diversity of Sri Lanka and also share a strong bond as women who face many challenges in finding space for their own creativity.

The exhibition is now on at the Lionel Wendt Gallery, Colombo and will continue till March 7.

Vasuki JeyshankarVasuki Jeyshankar was born in 1966 in Jaffna. A freelance feminist painter who had her first exhibition in Jaffna in 1988 with the Women's Studies Circle, she has since then exhibited both in Sri Lanka and abroad.

Vasuki combines her abiding interest and talent in the creative arts with a keen sense of commitment to issues of gender and social justice.

Padma Rajapaksa Padma Rajapaksa was born in Hunnasgiriya in 1951 and studied at the Institute of Aesthetic Studies of the University of Kelaniya. As a mother of three sons, she found the time to go back to her art only a few years ago.

Muditha AskinMuditha Askin was born in 1972 in Hatton and is a graduate from the Institute of Aesthetic Studies of the University of Kelaniya. Her work revolves around the situation of women within her immediate social environment and she draws her inspiration from her own experiences as a child and then as an adult. Her mixed ethnic background, Muslim and Sinhalese has inspired her to confront two cultural and religious traditions.

Vasuki Jeyshankar

Unlocking meaning

By Betty Maier

On an ultrama-rine blue background oscillating into midnight hues and turquoise patches, a staid figure expresses surprise or maybe shock at witnessing a fish share its space on the planar surface of the 2 D picture plane. Or perhaps the figure is looking back at the audience with its haunting and pupil-less eyes.

Yet it is the painter, Preethi Hapuwatte - veteran at the The Barefoot Gallery (formerly, Gallery 706) who releases the blue ground colour of the eye sockets through the addition of bright yellows, greens, and whites displaying the haunting effect of an isolated soul. Though the distinct and bright colours mentioned above, interrupted by swimming blues might ring a bell, the tell-tale sign of Preethi's artistry occurs in the figural body. There, the viewer notes the familiar box-patterns and repetitive forms that characterise much of her work. This time, the message seeks a personal interpretation.

Preethi's theme of Silent Reflections speaks well to the speechless and sometimes faceless figures she depicts. Reflective qualities lie inherent in the fact that they represent Preethi's own discoveries into Sri Lankan society. Or perhaps the socket-less eyes of her images merely reflect back the audience as the viewer searches for meaning. But what may not be intrinsically clear is what these figures are trying to say. And it seems more and more the duty of the viewers to infer for themselves. Becoming your own interpreter may be the key to unlocking their many-layered meaning.

An exhibition of Preethi Hapuwatte's work will be held at the Barefoot Gallery from March 7 to 18.

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