14th November, 2004  Volume 11, Issue 18

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    


Catharsis through paint and poetry

Ever recall reading these lines 'All things want to fly. Only we are weighed  down by desire/caught in ourselves and enthralled with our heaviness?' Does the name Rainer Maria Rilke ring a bell? No? Never mind.

But aren't these two lines enough to make you feel its worth knowing more about this poet, who seemingly wrote his poems in a dingy room on the Left Bank of Paris by a flickering kerosene lamp, his pen scratching on paper pulled out of stacks heaped on table and chairs; or perhaps, seated in the Bibliotheque Nationale, amid silence, clearing throats and shuffling feet; or a few years later in a cottage near Rome, or later still in the dying Swedish summer, under a beech tree?

Better still, how great to have the emotions his words invoked within you, brought out and expressed with paint?

There are three ways in which you can respond to the paintings of Anoma Wijewardene, which are, as she emphasises "not illustrations," but her responses to Rilke's poems. You can read the poem, let your emotions surge forth, move to Anoma's painting and see if your feelings match her's. Or, vice versa, look at Anoma's paintings, try to describe to yourself what you feel, then match them with those of Rilkes' verse. Or, try the third approach, the easiest. Forget Rilke, forget Anoma, look at the paintings and give your heart the freedom to soar the skies in unrestrained joy or remain on the ground on firm feet, perhaps pondering over the futility of existence, depending entirely on your mood at the moment.

For, paintings, too are not simply emotions (as Rilke said of poems) ...they are experiences. They are the blend of many cities, many people and things ...they are the gestures which small flowers make when they open in the morning. They are the memories of unexpected encounters, and partings you have long seen coming and many more.

With a MA from Central St. Martin's College of Art, London and several lectureships at prestigious Colleges of Art in Britain, Anoma has now returned to her motherland to become a fulltime artist and a teacher. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Architectural Digest and the World of Interiors. With many exhibitions over the last decade; in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Brisbane and a solo show in New Delhi, Anoma is planning to hold her next exhibition in Sydney in 2005.

Gaze at her current collection of paintings and feel the exultation of knowing for a moment, you had shared the feelings and thoughts of Rilke who deserves a place among Shelley and Keats. Looking at the combination of cool creamy colours, the slim shadows, the bold strokes and the gentle lines of the picture in front of you, you may detect the silhouette of a bird with its wings spread out. Treat yourself to a satisfied grin. You have had an inclination of what the poet had written the mirrors were still dizzy with your presence and startled, gave back/my too sudden image. Who knows? Perhaps the same/bird echoed through both of us/yesterday, separate, in the evening.

Be there at the Gallery Caf‚ between November 19 to December 8. Discover the hidden poet in you. Or even better, give your emotions the full reign they deserve. Chances are you may feel "a boy once again, with your life before you." or you will get a glimpse of the "void where all things that this once you may give it your perfect assent." Whatever, you are guaranteed you will be making a journey into the very depths of your soul because Anoma's are emotions and experiences. on canvas.

- Aditha Dissanayake

Encounters - A journey through the wild

Encounters - A Journey Through The Wild, a book launch and an exhibition of wildlife photographs will be held at the Harold Peiris Gallery - Lionel Wendt Colombo 7 from November 19-21 from 9.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.

Encounters - A Journey Through The Wild is a photographic recording of over 170 encounters with nature. These images are the work of four wildlife photographers who have had the privilege of spending time in our country's rich wilderness.

These special moments include hours spent on the beaches in Mannar watching gulls, ducks and shorebirds; in the jungles of Yala watching elephants at play. You will encounter unique moments spent in the company of leopard in Wilpattu after the park was recently reopened and in Kumana watching the fabulous crossed tusker. You will be captivated by the beauty of our lesser-known jewels such as butterflies, lizards and reptiles in Sinharaja, Morapitiya and Kitulgala.

The exhibition spans the entire country from Mannar to Kumana, Horton Plains to Sinharaja, Wilpattu to Colombo. The photographers have made a commitment to depict the country's rich biodiversity in its true splendour. Encounters cover many species of birds, some of which are so rare they may be seen in an exhibition or in print for the first time in Sri Lanka.

The photographers Gehan Rajapakse, Namal Kamalgoda, Palitha Antony and Sarinda Unamboowe have had vastly different life experiences but have been drawn together by one passion - the wild places of Sri Lanka. To them nature photography has many dimensions.

An opportunity to create art out of an image, to show the unique behaviour of animals and to foster awareness amongst a wider public on the need for conserving and protecting our wild places. Twenty five percent of the profits of this venture will be set aside to assist in various conservation related projects thus ensuring their own contribution towards the protection to Sri Lanka's rapidly vanishing wild places.

The 'Jets' are coming home

Ladies and Gentlemen," announced the famous commentator of yesteryear, Bob Garvie. "the rip-roaring rhythm of Anton Gunawijeya," he continues, "the booming bass of Felix Fernando, the lilting lead guitar of Indra Raj and the dynamic drumming of Harris Jurangpathy. The Jetliners."

This was the entrance call to the band of the 60's. Four guys who turned the music scene literally on its head. And then Uncle Bob, as he was fondly referred to by the Jets, would introduce "Beat-boy-extraordinary Ishan Bahar along with Miss Music herself Mignonne Fernando.

This then was the line-up of the original Jetliners in the latter part of the 60's. Sohan, the little man with the big voice joined the 'Jets' at a later stage. Now these young men and woman of the 60's are ready to set the stage on fire when they come together for the first time in Sri Lanka after a lapse of almost four decades.

Their average age about 55, but they still churn out the same music of the 60's with the same passion and gusto of 30. "If you are the 'young ones' who danced, tapped your feet, jived and rocked and rolled at the Coconut Grove of the Gale Face Hotel at the then famous Sundown Dances, here is your chance to re-live those great and memorable times when all we did was have a good time," quipped Ishan, now a grandfather of four, the only member of the original Jets still living in Sri Lanka.

Although Mignonne's roots are also here she travels around the world keeping in touch with her children and grand children. She will be flying in from the USA for the three shows being presented by DR Entertainments, two back-to-back stage shows at the BMICH on December 19 and 20 and a farewell dinner dance at the Coconut Grove on the 21st.

Forty years ago tickets were priced at Rs. 2 with a bottle of Coke thrown in free. But that was 40 years ago. Today, the tickets will cost a little more. But believe it will be worth it!

The guys are coming home from various parts of the world. Felix from OZ, Anton from the UK, Indra from Switzerland, Harris from Denmark and Sohan from the land of grass skirts and blue waters, Hawaii. They were together on two occasions in Australia, their first reunion being down under in 1999 and again in 2003. But this show is going to be special, as there will be much nostalgia and memories to reminisce.

Tickets will be available on November 15 and 16 at the Banquet Office of the Galle Face Hotel.

'Excellent New Singer' award for Prageeth & Gajan in Shanghai

Prageeth & Gajan, the newest entry in the Sri Lankan music industry, won the `Excellent New Singer' Award at the Seventh  Asia Singing Competition in Shanghai last week. The duo was awarded the first place in the category by performing two originals - Nimeshayakin and You've Been Warned at the finals.

Ranga Jagoda assisted Prageeth & Gajan as their manager cum producer on their trip to Shanghai. Twenty-one contestants participated at the finals. Prageeth & Gajan thank Arunthathi Sri Renganathan, their parents, family and fans and the media for supporting them in this competition.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Gajan said, "It was a really great experience representing the country in Shanghai and getting the award was great! It was also a great opportunity to build relationships with international artistes."

Preserving the natural

By Risidra Mendis

The wonders and beauty of nature has never seized to fascinate wildlife and nature lovers in Sri Lanka. But due to the selfish attitude of man and the lack of awareness among the public, many of the country's valuable and rare resources are slowly being destroyed. If we are to protect these valuable resources for future generations every one of us must contribute towards this cause.

In Sri Lanka there are a few places that continue to create awareness on environmental issues for the public. Eco Rhythm at Perehera Mawatha, Colombo 3 is one such place. At its initial stages Eco Rhythm sold music CDs on aromatherapy. But gradually due to his love for nature and the need to make people interested in the subject Viraj Seneviratne took on the task of introducing books on wildlife and nature.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Seneviratne said it is important that the public is given the opportunity of learning the values and importance of protecting wildlife and nature in Sri Lanka.

"Man does not realise that if he destroys nature he will ultimately be the one who gets destroyed. We must use the natural resources of nature. But make it our responsibility to pump back those resources back into the environment. Every year at least five to 10 species are lost in the world, due to the greed and selfish attitude of man," says Seneviratne.

According to Seneviratne, the public should have access to books on nature and wildlife at a reasonable price. Many books on these subjects are expensive. But whatever books I can find for a reasonable price I make available at Eco Rhythm," says Seneviratne.

At present the book A Guide To National Parks In Sri Lanka by the Wildlife Department is a book that Seneviratne is promoting at Eco Rhythm. "This book is very useful for any nature lover and is reasonably priced," said Seneviratne.

The book contains an insight into the national parks of Sri Lanka, except for Wilpattu and Kaudulla and includes maps of the parks," Seneviratne said. The book encourages people to follow the park rules and refrain from destroying the environment.

Other books on wildlife available at Eco Rhythm include those on birds, leopards and novels on experiences faced by environmentalists, while visiting national parks and other places of natural interest.

"We have posters with messages to protect nature and wildlife, wildlife cards and two little booklets with butterflies and dragonfly species found in Sri Lanka by Gehan de Silva Wijeratne," explained Seneviratne.

Seneviratne's interest in nature and wildlife came from his parents who were nature and animal lovers. "I can still remember those days when our house was full of many pets. Apart from the usual cats and dogs, we had birds, fish, deer and owls as pets," says Seneviratne.

Having watched his father take photos of animals, scenery and wildlife in national parks, Seneviratne decided to take his own photographs.

"I first started taking wildlife photographs around 10 years ago. At that time we did not have the modern day cameras with all the facilities. Those days the only cameras available were box cameras. As time went by I gradually developed my photography using the latest equipment available," Seneviratne said.

Seneviratne who has also taken many video clips on nature and wildlife continues to take wildlife photos when he has the time.

Gemba Prince at the Wendt

By Marianne David 

It is not easy being a prince. Especially not when you are from five centuries ago, your two friends cum advisers are crows, you need to find a princess real fast in a time when princesses are obsolete, and to top it all off, you are also a frog! By the way, you have also got yourself a reputation as a womaniser for falling in love with all the wrong people.

What with spoilt rich kids running around messing things up, the closest thing to a princess you find is, to say the least, full of herself; state money is being used for stag parties and what not, peace accords and MoUs, and the people freaking out, it ain't easy at all trying to find someone to spend an evening with you, let you drink from her cup, eat from her plate and kiss you to break the spell!

Indu Dharmasena's latest - Gemba Prince - is all about broken promises, power and money, blackmail and becoming a man again. With time running out fast and death waiting to get you, there is another surprise - things don't always turn out the way you think they will! The Gemba Prince will go on the boards at the Lionel Wendt on November 19, 20 and 21.

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