in the wilderness
one of Sri Lanka's foremost wildlife artists, will hold an exhibition
of bird paintings at the National Art Gallery from January 24 to
remarks that the works "depict a small selection of the rich
and varied bird life of Sri Lanka. The finely crafted works
span a period of four decades.
the older paintings have been retouched.
busy professional career, Dr. Samaraweera acquired a reputation
not only for his art but also as a wildlife photographer and conservationist.
In the latter role he was for several years an active member of
the committee of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society.
have appeared in journals, greeting cards and calendars. Many will
remember a classic shot of a Three-toed Kingfisher from the 1980s.
is among the portraits at the exhibition. This painting has been
particularly praised by experts for the difficult task of accurate
rendition of the bird's colours.
of the artist are an exceptional skill at conveying the colours
of our birds - often more vividly beautiful than we suspect, and,
secondly, the portrayal of exact poses as captured by his own field
sketches and 'working' photographs.
aspect of the exhibition is that some of the original sketches will
be shown along with the paintings from them.
has made extensive use of sketches he did in the field. In more
recent years he has used photographic material to help fill in detail.
sinner to saint
called him 'the most dangerous threat to American children since
polio'. For the past few years, he has been the bête noire
of the Right and the Left alike, a performer with a talent for provoking
that is as finely honed as his skill in shifting units. With songs
like 'The Real Slim Shady', 'Kill You' and 'White American', he
has earned the vilification of politicians, parents and teachers
alike, while simultaneously becoming the most idolised figure in
contemporary pop music.
he is not just the biggest rapper in America, but the biggest pop
star on the planet. He is Marshall Mathers II aka Slim Shady aka
His new film
8 Mile stars Eminem as Jimmy Smith Junior, a slight variation on
his real self.
Eminem's entrée into the mainstream occurs right at the moment
when rap music, his chosen form, is being censured on British shores
for promoting what Culture Minister Kim Howells last week called
'a culture where killing is almost a fashion accessory'. Rappers,
according to Howells, were 'boasting macho idiots', which, by extension,
makes the world's biggest rapper the most boastful macho idiot.
Eminem would no doubt agree with all but the last part of that triple
But hip hop
is also, despite Howells's patronising and potentially racist dismissal,
an American art form, as potent as film or fiction, which currently
communicates with a huge constituency way beyond the reach of most
novels or all but the successful movies. If that form has a poet
laureate, a voice that speaks off and from the streets, and connects
with that huge audience like no other, it is Eminem.
and some would say problematically, hip hop's biggest star is white.
Like Elvis Presley and Mick Jagger before him, he has adopted -
and adapted - a black form, earning, in the process, the kind of
global celebrity - and infamy - his black contemporaries can only
8 Mile is a
musical of sorts, an old-fashioned, redemptive narrative about a
young man's struggle to escape his grim blue-collar surroundings
by making it as a rapper. It is obviously autobiographical and,
like West Side Story and Saturday Night Fever before it, illustrates
the enduring mythology of the American Dream.
is a young man who has found fame not by evoking the myth of the
American Dream, but by describing, often in graphic detail, the
reality of a relatively unarticulated American nightmare: the dark
underbelly of the same poor, white, urban America that Michael Moore
exposes on film. It is not overstating the case to say that Eminem
is as reflective of his time as Bob Dylan was of his; and, in his
own way, just as trenchant a social commentator. 'I'd say that Eminem
is one of America's more acute social critics right now,' says Paul
Gilroy, Professor of Sociology and Afro American Studies at Yale
'He is one
of the few voices that is telling the truth about the implosion
of white family life in America. Everything he says runs contrary
to the all-American mythology of Mom and Pop and the happy children
that Bush still propagates. And he speaks directly to all those
other kids who are the product of broken homes, domestic violence
and parental neglect.
images are there in all his videos, in the anger of his lyrics.
Eminem is the bard of the destruction of the all-American family.'
For precisely that reason, he is also the most problematic pop star
of our time, a deeply troubled, and troubling, figure who alerts
us, like the shootings in Columbine, to just how discontented, dysfunctional
and prone to murderous rage some young, white alienated Americans
are. His songs are fuelled by anger and hate, often towards women
and gays, as much as any sense of social protest. And what antagonises
his critics most is the way in which he seems to revel in that anger
On the now
infamous The Marshall Mathers LP, where he created his alter ego,
Slim Shady, to vent his murderous feelings, he fantasised about
murdering his estranged wife and dumping her body in a lake, with
the help of his infant daughter, whose actual voice, God help us,
appeared on the gleeful chorus.
This was as
hardcore and, many argued, as wilfully irresponsible, as pop music
gets. Some, like Percival Everett, black American author and professor
of English at the University of Southern California, view him not
as a social critic but as an ignorant reactionary. 'If Eminem s
music and lyrics are any indication of his intelligence, then I
am mystified,' Everett says. 'The man is too dumb to be radical,
too derivative to be threatening and too predictable to be seminal.
The sad thing is that an untalented, homophobic man who abuses and
hates women should be popular at all.'
That is a view
shared not just by the Right but by many liberal parents who have
found that Eminem's music has a particular fascination for not just
impressionable teenagers but youngsters more usually drawn to the
harmless inanities of manufactured pop puppets. The only thing more
disturbing than horror-show violence, misogyny and homophobia, it
seems, is horror-show violence, misogyny and homophobia welded to
the most compulsive beats and pop melodies in contemporary music.
Dr Dre at the helm, though, Eminem's songs possess a pop sensibility
that is currently second to none. It is there in the wonderful rhyming
schemes, the taut melodies, and the flowing, often involved, lyrical
wordplay that reached an apogee of sorts in 'Stan', a song delivered
in the voice of an obsessive fan who ends up committing suicide
when the object of his devotion does not return his affection.
the dark heart of American suburban society, Eminem cast a similarly
cold eye, and keen intelligence, on celebrity culture. Almost simultaneously,
though, that same celebrity was wreaking havoc on his personal life.
After being torn to shreds verbally throughout the Slim Shady album,
his long-suffering mother sued him for 'emotional distress' to the
tune of £7 million. (She was awarded £1,000.)
In one volatile
week in 2000, he was arrested for waving a gun at a rival rap posse,
and for pistol-whipping a man he thought had been kissing his now
estranged wife, Kim, in the car park of a Detroit club. In performance,
he had taken to dragging a blow-up doll on stage and stabbing it
repeatedly with a knife while singing the aforementioned 'Kim',
which ends with the lyric: 'Bleed, ..., bleed.' Their turbulent
on-off romance ended messily after she attempted suicide by slitting
her wrists in July 2000 (Eminem is also believed to have twice attempted
suicide). With each outrage, his ascendancy has continued apace,
the ire he fuels in his detractors only shoring up his iconic status
among his devoted audience.
Two years is
a long time in pop music, though. Enough time for opinions to change,
for yesterday's anti-hero to metamorphose into tomorrow's lovable
role model. Ask Mick Jagger. Ask Ozzy Osbourne. And so it is that
Eminem suddenly seems to be undergoing a rehabilitation of sorts
in the same media that once called for his lyrics to be censored,
his records and concerts to be banned. Recently, the New York Times
ran an 8,000-word essay by its august cultural critic, Frank Rich,
reappraising the unrepentant rapper's cultural impact.
His name was
invoked more than once last week in the debate about rap and violence,
but there was an air of going through about it all. Perhaps he is
now simply too big, too mainstream, to be the kind of easy target
he was when his music was new and potent and effortlessly provocative.
Whatever, with the release of 8 Mile, the man that American critics
are calling 'the new James Dean' has proved himself to be not just
a pretty face and a foul mouth, but an actor of some skill and credibility.
In the process, his unstoppable global ascendancy continues apace
-The Observer, London
Korner by Dee Cee
deserved the 'treat'
It's not often
that a lyric writer gets recognition. It's either the singer, be
it male or female, or the one who provides music who becomes the
talking point. It's their effort that is appreciated. Thus when
lyric writer Bandula Nanayakkarawasam's creations were presented
at the BMICH the other day, it was a well deserved tribute. A few
of his friends had got together and organised the show featuring
For the past
22 years, Bandula has used his pen to create beautiful lyrics. They
were given life by the country's topmost artistes, set to music
by musicians in the top bracket today. Leading the list is Rohana
Weerasinghe who conducted the orchestra at the show.
It would have
been a tough task to pick 22 out of hundreds of Bandula's creations
for the evening. (That's the count I got watching the show on Rupavahini
the other night). The show was titled 'Sina Thotak' (from a popular
song written by Bandula and rendered exquisitely by Nirosha Virajini),
as was the CD and audio cassettes released to mark the occasion.
are full time musicians today, the lyric writer cannot be 'gainfully
employed' merely by writing songs. So, like most others, Bandula
had to find employment to keep himself going. He is with the Commercial
Bank serving at the Matara branch. As the Bank's chairman Mahendra
Amarasuriya confessed publicly, they were not aware that the Bank
possessed a national asset although they knew Bandula was a creative
guy. How nice to hear a company boss utter such appreciative words!
writer, Professor Sunil Ariyaratne was quite amazed at Bandula's
achievements, he being in an environment that may not be the ideal
for a creative person. "He is all the time dealing with ayiras
(overdrafts), preshana (remittances), naya (loans), vigamya balapath
(outward bills), sancharaka checkpath (travellers cheques) and pevarum
(transfers). He meets clients who either come rushing to get a facility
or to plead for more time to pay the loan instalments. Amidst all
these, it is really creditable for Bandula to have written such
lovely lyrics," he said.
For Dr. Carlo
Fonseka, some of Bandula's romantic songs make him feel young and
good to this day. "I didn't have the fortune of enjoying a
romantic relationship during my university days.
I heard the comment that I was not nice looking by a student looking
at my marks when they were put up on the board after my first year
results when my name was right on top, I decided to become a book
worm. I did and I topped the batch winning some gold medals at the
final exam but never succeeded in finding a girl," he admitted.
The show was
lively with no formal speeches but with many of Bandula's associates
being called upon to say a few words from where they were in the
audience. The male and female singers( from veterans Nanda Malini,
Sanath Nandasiri, Sunil Edirisinghe, Edward Jayakody to Deepika
Priyadashini, Kolitha Bhanu Dissanayake and many more) showed their
appreciation picking their favourites from what Bandula had written
And while they
sang and said nice things about him, the shy, unassuming Bandula
sat with his family enjoying every bit of it, sometimes blushing
at the comments made by his fellow Richmondites bringing back memories
of his school days.
beautiful prelude to Christmas
of Christmas Readings Carols' was held in December at 'Union Church',
hymn 'Once in Royal David's City' by Henry Gauntlet was a fitting
introduction. The choir walked down the aisle as Mihiri Rajaratnam
sang the first verse solo.'O Lovely Voices of the Sky, a traditional
English carol was sung in a light and sprightly manner. Two of the
verses were sung by the full choir with only the sopranos and altos
taking up the second verse.
'There's a song in the air' was almost a lullaby. The intrinsic
beauty of lines such as "there's a mother's deep prayer"
and "A baby's low cry" was sung in cadences that rose
and fell making threads of music in depth and feeling. The variance
of voice tones brought out the beauty of this musical composition.The
first verse of 'O Christmas Tree' a German melody of earlier times
was rendered as a duet by Christine Seneviratne (soprano) and Raj
Amirthaiya (tenor). In the second verse sopranos and altos harmonized
and the third verse included the deep, bass tones of Guy Seneviratne.
from the Realms of Glory" taken from S. Montgomery's 18th Century
religious compositions, was sung in flowing notes reaching a crescendo
on "worship Christ the new-born king" which was the chorus.Eroshini
Eaton's new version of "Away in a Manger" sung in haunting,
intense strains, was accompanied by Warren Jayawardena on the organ.
She captured the poignancy of that melody .
(St. John's) converted to music in 1857 was sung just before the
finale "Silent Night" for which the church was darkened.
This enduring carol was sung softly. The choristers walked down
the aisle and on to the porch holding 'pahanas' with lighted candles
within. Each 'pahana' was decorated with a tangled strip of multi-coloured
were assisted by Olivia Dharmadasa on the organ and trained by Guy
Seneviratne who also was the only bass. Nevertheless his voice effectively
played a part and merged with the soprano, altos and tenors.
All in all
this choir which has just eleven voices and a few years since its
inception, created a spiritual significance and a beautiful prelude