It’s picture perfect copper

By Adilah Ismail, Pix by J. Weerasekara

Copper-tooling is the art of embossing patterns or pictures on sheets of metal. This art form, also known as Repoussage, is done by hand.
S. Ratnagopal
Damayanthi Kottegoda

Damayanthi Kottegoda and S. Ratnagopal and their pupils – Nelun Gunasekera and Chandani Jayatilleke will hold an exhibition of hand-crafted, copper-tooled pictures which will be open to the public on October 17 and 18 from 8.30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Lionel Wendt.

Mrs. Kottegoda explained that the designs on the sheets of copper, which are brought down from abroad, are intricately and painstakingly embossed by hand. “It’s relaxing,” said Mrs. Kottegoda, who learnt this skill almost 20 years ago. The picture itself which is embossed on the sheet of copper is only limited by the artist’s imagination.

Mr. Ratnagopal, for instance, works with colour photographs collected from all over the world. He imprints every elaborate detail of the photograph - from shadows and highlights to the minute finer points - with especially designed tools used for this process.

The pictures at the exhibition include Hindu deities, picturesque scenes, motifs, designs and replicas of famous paintings. Even likenesses of famous figures such as Queen Elizabeth, Tutankhamen, Mahatma Gandhi and Barack Obama have been turned out on copper.

Copper is a durable medium and copper tooling is an ancient craft of goldsmiths – thus the main objective of this exhibition is to display their work and create awareness about the art of copper tooling art in Sri Lanka, the artists say.

“We would like people to come and look at these pictures, as each picture is carefully handcrafted. People should know about this,” said Chandani.

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