might in clay and wire
By Lakmali Gunawardene
Tissa de Alwis is a leading Sri Lankan sculptor in clay and wire.
An activity in modelling plasticene into forms, in a child's fantasy
world in nursery school, developed into an occupation with modelling
clay, recreating forms inspired by cartoon characters and figures
of the wild west that a boy grows up with in an urbanized milieu.
Encouraged by his parents and mostly by his mother, a dance teacher,
he showed a prodigious talent at a young age. In recognition of
his gift, the Ceylon Society of Arts chose his work for exhibition
in 1963, when Tissa was only 7 years old.
onto the more sophisticated media of potter's and ceramic clay in
the early seventies, Tissa retained his fascination for plasticene,
"Probably because of the ability to mix colours here and now,
like with painting, rather than doing it in stages, and the fact
that you can juxtapose two or more objects to make a new picture."
with the Ceylon Ceramic Corporation as a modeller and studio potter,
he widened the sculptor's scope in mastering his art when he exhibited
in ceramic art in the late seventies. His involvement in creating
models of soldiers on horseback for a film set, brought the sculptors'
fascination of horses as 'beasts of war" into focus. His resulting
group of these armed men on horseback was exhibited in the mid eighties,
at the American Centre in Kandy and Colombo. These figures were
the early beginnings of Tissa de Alwis's 'sets' as were the exquisitely
sculptured miniature horses interspersed in his display of military
Perera, the curator of the exhibition "New Approaches in Contemporary
Sri Lankan Art" commenting on Tissas's art said, "He places
a greater emphasis on the human component of war". His sets,
or assemblages, are colour coded according to time frames and context,
displaying the human form in various stances of military action
(occupation). A set of military figures in green depict modern military
prototypes, and one in blue represents 17th to the 19th Century
European and Napoleonic. A red set in the same time frame creates
the Middle Eastern grouping, and a yellow set the Sri Lankan. These
miniature human figures are given an added sense of fantasized reality
in their ominous groupings.
sculptor moves his exhibiting space in Calderesque style to the
air above these earthbound figures, to a set of flying military
machines, including terracotta helicopters and fighter jets, set
into light relief by a "Sky Rider" - a flying machine
moulded in wire carrying a colourful rider.
wire sculptures, like the wonderfully ethereal dragon which the
artist calls his "doodles in wire" remind us that there
is more to this artist's imagination than the preoccupation with
the military, which he himself points out is a reflection of the
times and place he lives in. The wire sculptures, and the miniature
wild horses juxtaposed and interspersed in his sets, draw heightened
interest because of the military quality of the sets.
de Alwis's work was included in the exhibition, "Objects that
Enhance Architecture", organized by the Geoffrey Bawa Trust.
He also exhibited at the first Fukuoka Art Triennial in Japan, and
the Third Asia Pacific Triennial at the Queensland Art Gallery,
2002 Tissa exhibited his work at the "Art South Asia"
exhibition at the Liverpool University Art Gallery in Liverpool,
England. He was also the Sri Lankan participant at 'Upstream', the
international art event held to commemorate 400 years of the V.O.C.
held in Amsterdam and Hoorn, the Netherlands.
has taught in workshops organized by Sarungalei Walakulai and Hope
for Children working with displaced children and teachers of disabled
children, and has also run a workshop in clay art at the British
Council Young Learners Centre. Teaching has also taken Tissa to
Australia, where he taught at the Queensland University of Technology
for a semester. As the sculptor himself states, teaching complements
and energises his work.
of North-East tell their own stories
By N. Dilshath Banu
Kamala Vasuki and Rushandan Kiko from Jaffna and Batticaloa exhibited
their paintings at the Harold Peiris Art Gallery of the Lionel Wendt
from July 16 -18. Hailing from Vembadi Girls' High School in Jaffna,
Vasuki studied science in the University of Jaffna. But her love
for art, made her curtail her studies and go back to her desired
field. Her paintings mainly portray women. "I am a feminist.
Sometimes, I paint a woman's struggle to climb the ladder of success.
I try to portray the anger, frustration and discrimination a woman
faces," she says.
from working as a Child Protection Assistant for UNICEF in Jaffna,
she has participated in many projects on women’s activities.
Since 1999, she has been the coordinator of Suriya Women's Development
Centre in Batticaloa.
works contain paintings of Lord Ganesh, the Hindu god of knowledge.
"I like to paint Lord Ganesh, because his body can be used
to reflect different characteristics."
has used traditional dark colours with Western structures, which
is new to the audience. "Many Sinhala artists use light colours
so I think I have brought out a different view to the Colombo audience,”
into a creative kitchen
By Anuradha Samarajiva
Everywhere I turned, I saw bowls, cups, vases, forks,
saltshakers, and more. The Everything But.. exhibition of contemporary
British kitchenware lived up to its name: it had pretty much everything
but the kitchen sink.
exhibition, organized by the British Council, was small. It just
filled one room of the Barefoot Gallery with room to spare. But
what it lacked in size it made up in variety. The pieces ranged
from quirky snooker ball-salt and peppershakers to aloof and elegant
oriental ceramics. Along with all the different types of kitchenware,
there were countless moods and styles on display.
of the pieces in white ceramic were functional and included cups
and plates with simple clean lines. Bodo Sperlein's Oval Lip Tray
sounded much more exotic than it looked, but the opposite was true
with Dai Rees' Feather Quill and Silver Bowl. A large elegant bowl
with a centre made of silver and long white quills radiating out
from it to form the sides, was the most striking piece I saw.
Marsh also turned to nature with his Large Burr Ash Bowl, which
made use of the knots and imperfections of wood to create a uniquely
patterned bowl. Hanne Rysgaard's Stacking Boxes and Bowls were more
traditionally English with floral patterns. Walter Keeler's Polychrome
Stoneware Teapot had a more imaginative flower theme; his dark green
teapot with orange thorns jutting out looked like a sombre rose.
Warren's Fold Cutlery Set put a completely different spin on traditional
cutlery. The whimsical forks and spoons looked like they'd been
creatively twisted, but the knives just looked impractical. Sue
Pryke didn't reinvent the lemon squeezer, but her Earthenware Lemon
Squeezers in bright sunny colours added a refreshing Mediterranean
splash to the exhibit.
the pieces were arranged on cupboards and tables that could have
come straight from the kitchen. Unfortunately, some of them were
arranged near the ground or in the back of a cupboard where they
couldn't be seen easily. The constant "Do Not Touch" signs
weren't very pleasing to the eye, but the delicate ceramics called
for it. They're not allowed to venture too close, but visitors can
get the particulars of each piece and its creator from the descriptions
on the walls.
without the details, a glimpse from the entrance is enough to realize
what a range of ideas this exhibit carries. Even with a limited
selection of pieces, it inspires visitors with the idea that a utilitarian
kitchen can still be a beautiful place. Everything But... is on
display at the Barefoot Gallery until August 1.