The wilds in
Wildlife is her life. Painting is her gift.
to my father, I've lived practically all my life surrounded by animals,
hence my interest in the subject," says Nirmala De Alwis.
As the daughter
of Lyn De Alwis, a renowned director of the Zoo and later of the
Wildlife Department, most of her younger days had been spent within
the close proximity of many wild animals.
official bungalow was inside the zoo itself, so I got a chance of
growing up with lion and leopard cubs as pets," said Nirmala.
Added Mr. De Alwis "We always pull her leg and tell her that
she was born in a zoo!"
With her father
being appointed as the Director of Wildlife, Nirmala made frequent
visits to wildlife parks such as Yala and Wilpattu. All this exposure
helped to increase her already established interest in nature.
Ladies' College, art was never a subject she studied for any major
examination, but she attended the Mudliyar Amarasekara art classes
and also studied under another art teacher, S. Miththapala. Her
formal training in art came when she majored in Fine Arts at the
Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore. At the moment, she is attached
to an advertising company J.W.T., and works for the Creative Department.
not just being limited to painting, Nirmala even designs her own
jewellery using clay, bamboo, sea shells, coconut shells and copper
are available, along with hand painted greeting cards at her own
gallery "Vana-ras", adjoining her home in Mount Lavinia.
"There are tourists who regularly visit the gallery. And of
course I have young boys coming to get little accessories for their
girl friends," she adds mischievously.
her maiden exhibition right after leaving school in 1988, and it
was titled "A brush with animals". Keeping with her theme
of wildlife, another was titled "Draw to the Wild". Last
year's was dedicated to elephants and so was called "Hasthy".
To give her
paintings a natural touch, she uses mixed media. The range of materials
include oil paints, acrylics, charcoal and pastels. Among the more
unusual materials used are coloured paper pulp and "matulla",
a net-like casing found on the coconut tree.
the closest I can get to portraying the elephant's skin," says
Nirmala, explaining the use of matulla in her paintings. What strikes
the viewer is that the majority of Nirmala's paintings have a sombre
aspect to them. Explains Nirmala, "In Sri Lanka, wildlife has
reached a sad plight. People are killing elephants and it's the
same with most of the other animals as well. Even if anyone does
do something for wildlife, it's for some sort of personal benefit.
The sober colours used in my paintings portray these feelings."
in Paradise", is on today at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery.
Impressionist artist Segar will hold his 24th one man exhibition
at the Bishop's College auditorium on November 4 and 5.
is quite a long time in the life of an artist and in the development
of his art. Hence we can expect changes in his art. Fortunately
or unfortunately, to Segar's credit, there is not much change that
we could detect except for the better.
in watercolours, oils and some attempts at collage are still very
much Segar. The artist as a man has matured somewhat, though still
rather irrepressible and modest about his abilities and achievements,
his likes and dislikes. Frankly, 'cubism' is not our cup of tea.
But it does
not mean that there is no room for it in our social scene. Besides,
it is not too cubist in content as to put us off. Admittedly there
is a lot of Segar in it.
his colours are toned down and more muted with the softer blues
and greens predominating, though an occasional vermilion shows up
where required. There is much gray and black. All rather sober in
contrast to what we remember as predominant vermilion, at his last
exhibition at the Lionel Wendt in 1998.
disturbing feature is his new departure into 'collage cartoonism'
which in itself is not a bad thing for all artists to master.
from the 'Tea Plucker' with the bull's head, for which the artist
says tea pluckers work like bulls, and 'The Queen of Jews', both
show a tendency towards caricature, which is a pity in an artist
of Segar's standing.
hope Segar does not allow himself to slip deeper into the field
of obvious caricature to the exclusion of his mature paintings.
He describes his style of line drawings as 'painting as a child
would' and presumably as a child sees! This we feel would be a retrograde
step for an artist whose style is already so definitive.
with collage too is a similar recession.
Segar has always
shown a keen awareness of social issues. This was well illustrated
in several paintings in the past on environment, and religion which
I guess he will not fail to remind us of at his forthcoming exhibition
at the Bishop's College auditorium. He also expresses concern over
the effects of terrorism on our people and on the environment.
Among the slums of the slopes the elegant figure of hers
With shattered hopes and unmet wants, works and toils Her sweat
and her blood go to the earth and the 'leeches' And her wages she
donates involuntarily to her employers
face of the victim of our economic cause
Metamorphosed my mind into a bull's face
Premiere Concert : A journey through time and places
By Satish Goonesinghe
An operatic overture .......a theme and its variations
.............a concerto for three instruments.
concert of the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka (SOSL) held on October
26, was a grand treat for lovers of western classical music.
covered three works that were composed at different times in the
19th century in Germany and England - in a way it was a journey
through time and places. The concert opened with Karl Otto Nicolai's
overture to "The Merry Wives of Windsor" (1849). The original
opera is based closely on Shakespeare's play of the same title.
However a knowledge of the play was not required to appreciate the
overture. Its performance was good but the beauty of this opening
piece was totally eclipsed by the grandeur of the two subsequent
works that were performed that evening.
Then came the
work that I was looking forward to listening to - Ludwig van Beethoven's
Triple Concerto, Opus 56 - for piano, violin and cello (1804). This
work which balances the different timbres of the three solo instruments
and that of the orchestra, was performed really well by the three
Sri Lankan soloists and the SOSL under the baton of Ajith Abeysekara.
on the violin gave an excellent interpretation of the work reflecting
the distinct 'personality' of the violin. He has made immense strides
since his debut with the SOSL (the Symphony Orchestra of Colombo
as it was then known) in the mid 1980s as a violinist. Dushyanthi
Perera (cello) and Ramya De Livera Perera (piano) too performed
brilliantly together with Dabare, illustrating the beauty of their
respective instruments. Dushyanthi Perera was clever in exerting
the individuality of the cello, changing the traditional role of
it providing bass to an orchestra. The piano soloist - De Livera
Perera added colour to the performance with her relaxed rendition
of the challenging piano parts of the concerto.
that impressed me was that there were many youngsters drawn from
the National Youth Orchestra of Sri Lanka playing with the SOSL.
That is the way forwards in nurturing the latent musical talents
of the youth.
The other positive
feature was the pre-concert talk given by Dr. Lalith Perera. It
was a great trend set in motion - following the path of the current
BBC Promenade Concerts where 'Pre-proms talks' are held preceding
selected Promenade concerts.
Dramatist who dared to be different
"When I was told that my script had been accepted by
the Arts Council (for the annual Drama Festival), I realized I had
no money to produce the play. A friend took me to an Afghan money
lender in Slave Island and arranged for a loan of Rs. 100. I only
got Rs. 80 - the money lender had kept back the first month's interest.
He also asked me for the bus route number and from where I got down
to go to office. And faithfully, the day after pay day he would
wait for me in the corridor next to Cargills. With the interest
money in my hand, I would go along the corridor. He would walk behind
me with his left hand hanging down. At a convenient spot our hands
would meet and the Rs. 20 would be passed on."
This is how
Sugathapala de Silva began his career as a dramatist. It was 1962.
The play was 'Bordingkarayo' . Even the day before the show, he
was not sure of staging it. The reason - lack of a drawing room
suite for the stage set. A businessman from Panchikawatta gave Rs.
25 to hire a set. The play was staged. Versatile actor G. W.Surendra
turned out a stunning performance. 'Bordingkarayo' was adjudged
the Best Play of the Year. It also won the award for the Best Script.
the early days in a short article he wrote in November 1998 for
the felicitation volume published by the Sinhala Drama Panel of
the Arts Council appreciating his service to Sinhala theatre. He
wrote it in between his illness which confined him to a wheel chair
following a paralytic stroke. "I was on the verge of death
recently. So I had time to look back", he wrote. He remembered
with gratitude two of his bosom pals who pushed him towards creative
work. One was Cyril B. Perera, who was contributing a series to
the 'Sinhala Jatiya' where Sugath served as a translator and also
edited the arts page. The other was G. W. Surendra who was the deputy
editor of 'Jatiya' newspapers and later joined the British High
Commission to edit its news journal.
the day he first reviewed a play for his newspaper. It was Henry
Jayasena's 'Manamalayo' based on Sheridan's 'The Rivals'. "I
liked it. It was done well. I wrote that the adaptation was better
than the original." A member of the editorial staff asked Sugath
who Henry Jayasena was, whether he was a friend of his. "I
have seen him once including the day I saw the play," Sugath
told him. Cyril advised him not to worry about such talk. 'I too
saw the play. Your feelings are revealing,' he told Sugath.
left the High Commission to join the 'Dawasa' newspaper, he 'fixed'
that job for Sugath. Cyril, who was attached to the Indian High
Commission, Surendra and Sugath met regularly and discussed common
topics mainly relating to theatre and cinema. The group gradually
expanded with that brilliant photographer Ralex Ranasinghe, Augustus
Vinayagaratnam, Piyasiri Nagahawatta and Vipula Dharmawardena joining
them. As a rule Sugath was critical of the plays that were being
staged at the time. "Why won't you write one," was the
challenge from his friends. That's how he wrote 'Bordingkarayo'.
It also marked the birth of 'Ape Kattiya', the rebel theatregroup.
It was the
beginning of a highly successful career for Sugath. Theatregoers
just waited for his plays. He kept on writing and producing them
- one play a year. Tattu Geval (1964), Harima Badu Hayak (1965),
Hele Negga Dong Putha (1966), Nil Katrol Mal (1967), Hitha Honda
Ammandi (1969) and Dunna Dunu Gamuwe (1972). In all he had 16 dramas
to his credit. Not all of them were successful but each became the
talking point of the day. Critics hailed 'Dunna Dunu Gamuwe' as
a high point in his career until the arrival of 'Marasad' (1976)
which is acclaimed as his best.
a whole host of players to the stage. They were an extremely talented
lot and are household names even today. G. W. Surendra, Tony Ranasinghe,
Wickrema Bogoda, Navanandana Wijesinghe, Prema Ganegoda, Malini
Weeramuni and W. Jayasiri is a list picked up at random.
a bold writer. Whatever he wrote became the talking point. "Why
are we afraid of words," he wrote in the programme note for
'Harima Badu Hayak'. "Why do we use dots when we put down certain
words which are in common use every day," he asked. "Are
we such purists, are we are so civilised?"
He was in and
out of Radio Ceylon (later SLBC) as a drama producer. 'Vellata Giya
Geheniya' was his first radio play. That was in 1968. He started
writing novels with 'Bitti Hatara' and wrote at least eight. The
most recent was 'Amuthu Ilandariya' , the Sinhala version of Shyam
Selvadurai's 'Funny Boy', which he completed in between his illness.
Artistes loved Sugath. They formed the 'Sugathapala de Silva Rekavarana
Padanama' to help him out during his illness which forced him to
move away from his creative efforts. However, when he partially
recovered, he made it a point to be at a play or an event with wife
Sheila by his side. He attended the launch of 'Amuthu Ilandariya'
at the Public Library auditorium just a little over a month ago
and obliged many an autograph hunter although he was feeling tired
and exhausted. I didn't expect him to recognise me but he did, and
we exchanged a few words reminding me of the old days.
His was a long
journey from Midigama in Weligama. Having passed his English senior
he started life as an English teacher at Egodakanda Mixed School
in Nildahdahinna. He managed a printing press at Gampola for a while
and after a stint at 'Sinhala Jatiya', went back there until he
joined KVG Silva Bookshop as an accounts clerk. "I loved books.
That's why I came there for a monthly salary of Rs. 75 which was
increased to Rs. 200 in two months. Joining the British High Commission
meant a jump of Rs. 400 ," he recalled in his article to 'Abhinaya.'
Sinhala theatre. His was a silent contribution. He brought back
the once popular dialogue play. He was a daring dramatist.
D. C. Ranatunga