When all roads led to LunugangaView(s):
In celebration of the 75th anniversary of Geoffrey Bawa’s garden Lunuganga, the Geoffrey Bawa Trust launched ‘To Lunuganga’ a programme featuring a range of talks, tours, exhibitions, and installations that reflect the inseparability of art, ecology, and architecture.
So all roads seemed to lead to Bentota when the Geoffrey Bawa Trust threw open the gates of Lunuganga free of charge over last weekend. The Trust was delighted that more than 5,400 visitors – families crowded the lawns and the Plain of Jars.
Free entrance was also allowed to other Bawa buildings including Boutique 87, a lesser known Bawa gem nearby with a majestic wild garden, Heritance Ayurveda and Brief. There was also a visit to Honduwa island to see the endangered hog deer.
‘To Lunuganga’ is organised in three seasons and the first season was launched on July 20, with several events taking place within the Lunuganga estate in Bentota as well as in Colombo, coinciding with Bawa’s birthday falling on July 23.
One of the major events was the launch of an installation by Mumbai-based artist Reena Kallat whose work is anchored in archival research and collective memory. In her installation titled ‘Fluid Geography’, civilisation’s dependence on rivers as lifelines served as inspiration, providing a backdrop for Reena to delve into her interests of social and political borders.
Reena’s work looks at the intersectionality of natural borders with the natural form of the river and how histories have been shaped by claiming ownership of the water resources. Her installation also looks at the line as an integral tool in any artist’s toolkit. “In here I sort of want to reclaim the line onto paper, but thinking of how histories have really shaped geographies. While they are contested histories, when the lines come together either they sort of have this resonance of rippled form, or of the heartbeat like in cardiograms. There are several other associations, but essentially you see lines of division that get subsumed in this sort of universal solvent which rivers then sort of reclaim and restore.”
Reena, along with South African architect Sumayya Vally, and Sri Lankan artist Firi Rahman were a part of a panel discussion held on the Lunuganga estate on the eve of Friday, July 21. The discussion was moderated by executive director of M+ (Hong Kong) and trustee of the Geoffrey Bawa Trust, Suhanya Raffel and Chief Curator of the Trust, Shayari de Silva.
Sumayya, founder of architectural firm Counterspace, was featured in 2021’s Time 100 Next list, which highlights emerging leaders who are shaping the future. Firi’s work is concerned with the contentious relationship between humankind and the animal kingdom. Both Sumayya and Firi will have their work featured in Lunuganga in the upcoming seasons.
Discussing his upcoming work, Firi says the process is ever-evolving as ideas and concepts are free-flowing when it comes to Lunuganga. “There are a few things that I would love to highlight. We’re really keen to think about these oral histories and the places like hidden maps in the neighbourhood. I want to bring life to that by exploring these stories” says Firi who is known for his work with cartography.
On her experience in Lunuganga and the inspiration for her upcoming work, Sumayya’s philosophy is very much in line with Bawa’s. “Geoffrey Bawa’s work was very much a point of refuge for me because it was so much outside of the canon and I certainly didn’t encounter it at architecture school. I did find it myself and it was such a point of inspiration because it really offered for me a discourse and a way of looking at the world, that hybridised so many conditions and identities.
“I think it’s also really important that we have and we fiercely protect places of refuge and places of imagination and with the installation, I hope that this is something that I can work on. The brief from the Trust has been around reading and literature, and we’ve talked a lot about the power of transporting people through words and images,” said Sumayya.
Reporting by Shannon Salgadoe
and Yomal Senerath-Yapa
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