is a form of art that only a few can master. But once mastered there is no
limit to the number of designs and styles that one can do. Mosaic is a
decorative art form that uses 'tesserae' or small pieces of glass, marble,
ceramic or stone to create images and patterns. This is an extremely
adaptable medium where an endless variation of subjects, materials, colours
and applications have been explored and used over the years.
history of mosaic began over 5000 years ago. It was the Chinese and the
civilisations of Asia minor that first used pebbles to make a variety of
different patterns in their gardens. Many of the mosaics preserved at, for
example, Pompeii were the work of Greek artists.
this ancient practice is not confined to one set of ideas, as mosaic artists
have the freedom to express their thoughts and ideas by using a wide variety
of materials and techniques that their predecessors could only dream of.
time has now come for art lovers of Sri Lanka to experience and see what
this art of mosaic is all about. A mosaic artist, Alefiya Akbarally, having
mastered this amazing form of art, is about to hold an exhibition titled
Alefiya's Madness in Sri Lanka.
love for mosaic art began a few years ago. Passionate about art since her
childhood days Akbarally went on to become an accomplished artist with many
successful exhibitions to her name. However, this is the first time that
Akbarally will hold an exhibition on mosaic art.
interest in Islamic Art and architecture began with a visit to Spain and
Italy a couple of years ago, where she got the inspiration and impetus to
delve into this fascinating form of art.
Australia Akbarally received formal training and acquired the necessary
technical skills to produce mosaics. Ever since then she has done much work
with this medium, where she has incorporated her art into practical and
usable items such as chairs, tables, frames, mirrors and beautiful wall art.
you compare Roman, British and Italian mosaics, you will notice that the
British examples are simpler in design and less accomplished in
technique," says Akbarally.
to her, with the rise of the Byzantine Empire from the 5th Century onwards,
centered on Byzantium (now Istanbul, Turkey), the art form took on new
characteristics. "These included Eastern influences in style and the
use of special glass tesserae called smalti, manufactured in northern Italy.
These smalti were made from thick sheets of coloured glass. Smalti have a
rough surface and contain tiny air bubbles and they are sometimes backed
with reflective silver or gold leaves," explained Akbarally.
intense study in mosaic art has made Akbarally a well versed and
knowledgeable artist in the country. "In
the west of Europe, the Moors brought Islamic mosaic and tile art into the
Iberian peninsula in the 8th Century, while elsewhere in the Muslim world,
stone, glass and ceramic were used for mosaic art. In contrast to the
figurative representations in Byzantine art, Islamic motifs are mainly
geometric and mathematical," says Akbarally. Some examples can be seen
in Spain at the Great Mosque at Cordoba and the Alhambra Palace.
in Arabic countries a distinctive decorative style called zillij uses
purpose-made ceramic shapes that are further worked by hand to allow them to
tessellate (fit together perfectly to cover a surface).
to Akbarally, the Art Nouveau movement also embraced mosaic art. "In
Barcelona, Antoni Gaudi worked with Josep Maria Jujol to produce some
stunning ceramic mosaics of the Guell Park in the first two decades of the
20th Century. They used a technique known as 'trencadis' in which tiles
(purpose-made and waste tiles) covered surfaces of buildings. They also
incorporated broken crockery and other objects, a revolutionary idea in
formal art and architecture," notes Akbarally.
went on to say that a very influential site with regard to mosaic art is the
La Maison Picassiette (in Chartres, northern France). "The
idiosyncratic work of Raymonde Isidore between 1938 and 1964 is worth
noting. As a middle-aged manual worker, Isidore covered his entire house and
garden with intricate mosaics of broken crockery.
His nickname (Picassiette) came from a French expression meaning a
'scrounger': This expression - pique assiette - is the name given today to
this very popular style of mosaic," Akbarally explained.
of crafts people
art in general is thought of more as the work of crafts people than artists.
"Perhaps this is the difficulty that people have in accepting the fact
that mosaics often have a dual function. For example as flooring and also
because it is an accessible, non-elitist form of creativity," said
display at the exhibition is an assortment of artifacts elaborately and
exquisitely done by Akbarally to make your home, garden or helipad a
Madness will be held from May 29 to 31 at the Hermitage on Gower Street from
9.30 a.m to 6 p.m.
Was Not Born Yesterday
WAS Not Born Yesterday, (Mama Ipadunee Iyee Nemai) an adaptation by senior
dramatist and writer M. Safeer will go on the boards at the Lumbini Theatre on May 28 at 7 pm.
has based his theatre production on Josef And Maria by German dramatist
Sinhala script is by Dr. Ashoka de Silva.
I Was Not Born Yestersay will launch popular tele and film acrtress
Semini Iddamalgoda as a theatre actress who will be cast alongside veteran
actor Udeni Alwis to share the lead roles.
designing and operating of the production is by Wasantha Kumara, dance
designing by Nilan Maligaspe, set designing by
M. Safeer and costume designing by Hemantha Pradas.
management is by Nalaka Jinendra, still photograpy by Udeni Alwis and make
up by Sumedha Hewawitharana.
Directed by M. Safeer, I Was Not Born Yesterday is presented by Inter Act.
Hit and more
acting career commenced at the age of six with his first film Nommara 17.
His talent as an actor soon made him try his hand at music where he became a
hit among young teens at the time.
Harendra Sankha Prasad Pieris heads the musical band Solar Hit a young
musical group consisting of four girls and five boys. "My uncle
Hemasiri Sellapperuma is a film director and it is through him that I was
first introduced to the film world," says Harendra.
to The Sunday Leader Harendra said as a dancer in Solar Hit, he has over
3000 performances to his credit. Members
of the band include Harendra, Dinesh, Suresh, Manoj, Manju, Sumithra, Midon,
Rasanga and Madhusha. Unlike other bands in Sri Lanka that work with limited
variety in music, Solar Hit has the special ability to mix ballet with
Western music in order to get a range of musical tones.
as a band feel the audience should get what they want," says Harendra.
For Harendra dancing, acting and music has always been a part of his life.
His mother Chandra Muthuthanthri was a film producer.
I took part in many films my interest was in dancing and music. This is why
I got involved with Solar Hit," says Harendra. His experience in Indian
dancing has benefited the group as he teaches the other members the steps.
their performance at the Tower, Solar Hit was successful in getting many
contracts at the BMICH, The Lions Club, Goodbye 97/98. The Gypsy Ball 97,
Green Breeze 98/99 , etc.
Hit took part in the Rasa Risi Gee programme on Sirasa TV and Manohari TV
programme on Rupavahini. Solar Hit have their own dance steps and design
their own costumes, which makes them an original music group.
the storm, the doom song of the drums
nights may wear their crust of stars: and the days their golden haloes, but
for Maureen Seneviratne, after the days of young love, years of happy
togetherness, her classmate days ("... it had never ever dawned on me
to identify my dear friends ethnic backgrounds...") - days passed so
thoughtlessly, blissfully, she heard the drums. At first, she tells us.
"We missed out completely on the banked fires... grievances centuries
old. being stoked into flames.. If any political storms were gathering, well
we did not see the clouds."
happy Sri Lanka. Maureen begins with the times we shared. The August 1948
holiday, she tells of, "was in my father's home in Anuradhapura. Years
of taking measured strides to make dreams come true - to rebel if the need
be, to be a journalist. But slowly, stealthily, the drums began their
tattoo; so faint at first, then rising to a madcap rhythm demanding that
they be heard.
cannot dismiss the death drums. To her, May 1958 brought that
"unforgettable day of terror and unimaginable horror. Men and women,
helpless were being assaulted. Smoke was spiraling in the sky from houses
set ablaze. "Who is prepared, even now, to answer her questions, give
answer in a voice loud enough to rise over the drums of doom? This book has
been written with love, despair, hope and again, love. How many minds have
taken it all in, felt the red iron of ruin, the tattering of joy and the
desolation of a once-peaceful, well-knit society? Monsters of divisiveness
were created by politicians who built themselves up on the gullibility of
the people. The terror of May 1958, she says, proved that the road taken by
those in power and some of their particular policies that were put in place,
had failed miserably."
writes with remarkable effect, her memories of the good, the decent, the
honorable countering her livid horror of a country rolling down a slope.
Naturally, she castigates without mercy. It is this quality of outrage that
makes the book so compelling. "We were young, we were merry and even
pain and death did not deter us. Other's pain and death. Sadly, we left
politics to the politicians, not realising that in the main by the very
nature of their being and by their choice of policies, they were bunglers
and blunderers, selfish and power-hungry, always have been and always will
be." And again: "I have been constrained to admit that the miasma
rises from the bottom. The people are corrupt themselves. All of society is
tainted. We get the politics and politicians we deserve."
unbelievably, the manic drums drop to a low-key sob. They rose when
Bandaranaike was assassinated, but there followed the era of Sirimavo and
with a record of take-overs, nationalisation, laws and actions that created
further socio-cultural tensions, rifts and divisions among the communities.
Maureen is no side-taker - never has been, and I must say that her years of
journalism under the truly greats of this country, helped enormously.
Lasting Storm is a narration, starkly told, no frills, very matter-of-fact
actually, and yet, it moves in a way that grips - from happy times past to
1948 onwards when, as Maureen says, "ever since the first parliament,
kissing began to go by favour," to political stooges and politicians'
goons. "Those who formed the backbone of society but did not go after
those in political power, were left to rot! Power corrupts. There is no
doubting it. It is impossible for an ordinary citizen to believe, to even
try to comprehend to what extent a politician will go today to hold on to
power: what lies they are capable of mouthing: deluding even themselves that
what they are stating is true!"
pace of narrative is smooth and presented in a manner where past glimpses
are juxtaposed with the worst of the present to make the contrasts sometimes
too horrible to think of. This is where the book actually trembles with
power. Where was the JVP insurgency of 1971 most insistent and pat comes a
police officer's answer: "Where the jaggery trees grow." Even the
exodus to the Middle East does not go uncommented on. "Now, thousands
of our women and our men have gone out to the Middle East as servants. Is
that a reflection of our education system, or their inability to aspire to
tells of the monstrous and shameful torture and killing of a young Buddhist
monk and a beauty queen, Miss Manamperi, who was also raped by the armed
forces in a southern rehabilitation camp. And, most telling of all, was what
the incumbent monk of Rhamba Vihara in Mahanagahula said. "What we
forget to our cost is that the great Parakramabahu's father was a Tamil
prince. That Vijayabahu I rid this country of Chola-Thamil occupation, but
his own palace guard was composed of Tamil warriors and that he gave his
daughter, Ratnavali, to a Tamil prince. The island people must have been
much of an ethnic mixture in those times also but no civil wars were fought
on that issue."
spares nothing. She tells of the "Great Divide" of 1977: "The
bell of division, the bell of doom had already been struck for Sri Lanka.
Even the teachers of the Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya, occupied the
Staff Room - Tamils on one side, Sinhalese on the other. The people were
sitting on an inferno, waiting for the spark that would unleash its fury. It
burst into scorching rivers of flame in July 1983 and the registers of death
were cramped with entries. The drums beat maddeningly and other drums made
of it a pounding ensemble of cruel death - the Pettah bus stand; the
Department of Telecommunication; the Hotel Lanka Oberoi ; Air Lanka
aircraft; the Maradana railway station; the Central Bank; the Dalada
Maligawa; fears of Indian invasion; parippu drops; the coming of the IPKF;
the second JVP revolt terror and counter-terror; the assassination of
Premadasa; Richard de Zoysa and Gamini Dissanayake.
is grandmother's tale and grandma Maureen brings it to a fitting end.
darling grandchildren, your own future is as insecure as anyone else's in
Lanka where its trees are being
destroyed, its soil, in batches is being polluted, its lakes and rivers are
running dry; the stinking mounds of garbage remain uncleared. We live in
times when the future cannot be even reasonably predicted. I have seen many
facets of the wild, dark, sinister play. The incalculable loss in terms of
progress and development to the large numbers of our people, tied to the
politicians gross greed, ambition, hunger for the best of the wine. There is
no reward for hard work and honesty and dedication in Sri Lanka today. It is
a country more fissured, more splintered than ever.."
you hear the drums? They beat insistently on. Shall we dance?
- Carl Muller
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