Funday Times

'Wings' in flight

By Amy Rose Thomas, Pix by Sanka Vidanagama

When it comes to art, brothers Shanilka and Ashinka Wimalasena have a story of their own. At the age of 15 and 14 respectively, they have achieved things that people take ages to accomplish and made a mark in the field.

Last week, the siblings launched their first book "Wings" containing paintings of Sri Lankan birds and exhibited some of their works at the National Art Gallery in Colombo."Its our love for wildlife and nature that prompted us to draw and paint," Ashinka says minutes prior to the book launch.

The day of the book launch was no exception to the rest of the days of the week, it was gloomy and wet and I reached the gallery drenched to the skin. But, once the door opened and paintings were revealed, my murkiness vanished.

Paintings displayed the siblings' maturity, talent and passion for wildlife. There were in all 130 paintings being exhibited. Visitors were awestruck and the paintings quite literally took their breath away.

Instead of running around like a headless chicken on the day of their first book launch, the siblings seemed in a bundle of laughs. Few minutes into conversation with them disclosed that their book launch and the exhibition have definitely not gone to their heads. They seemed extremely humble, down to earth and genuinely passionate about nature.

"We always loved animals and birds. We started painting at the age of three. ‘Mamma’ used to take us to the zoo and after we come back home, we painted what we saw," Shanilka recalls.

Their love for the wild took them to places such as Yala, Bundala, Sinharaja and Kenya in South Africa. "While we go on trips, we photograph animals of the wild and paint them at home," Ashinka
enthusiastically says.

Apart from the paintings of 60 species of birds in Sri Lanka, the book "Wings" includes descriptions about these creatures and also a write-up revealing the brothers' experiences with these animals.

A friend of the boys, Praveen C. Kumar, says, "The paintings are bedazzling." Bedazzling the public is not a whole new ball game for them, they have done it before and done it well. When they were of age 10 and 9, Shanilka and Ashinka held their first art exhibition titled "Siblings" and captured the minds and hearts of Sri Lankans.

Paintings of the duo were exhibited at the gallery for the public, free of charge from 21st to 23rd of this month from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. The elder of the two brothers, Shanilka, yearns to make films that educate the public about the extinction of certain animals and work for their cause. The duo dream of a world where the animals are safe and can live without the fear of getting killed by humans. Let us hope that their dream does come true.

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