ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 11 , 2007
Vol. 41 - No 41

A wild streak and vibrant impressionist

By Esther Williams

Sarala Wickramesinghe Jayasekera is an artist with a mission - to portray the beauty of nature and conserve it. In her solo exhibition that will be held at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery from March 16 to 18, around 45 of her paintings, a few of them done from the time she was three will be exhibited.

The young artist's love for nature is more than evident when talking to her. Not surprising since her father who shares her passion for wildlife has time and again exposed her to nature in all its glory from the time she could barely walk. Hence national parks such as Yala, Uda Walawe, Wasgamuwa and Kumana are familiar territory for her family.

"I have always come back from those visits with renewed inspiration to paint," says she. On all her visits she would take photographs that she used for her art.

Having dabbled in painting at an early age, Sarala's formal training began with Lathifa Ismail at age 4. "She helped me discover my own style," she says, adding that painting during the school days gave her an enormous sense of relaxation. Over the years her work has been exhibited along with other child artists. More often than not her subjects were wildlife - a subject that captivated her. Subsequently, opting for art for her O/L she was tutored in still life and composition by Nisreen Amiruddeen.

In 1997-98, one of the artist's painting was selected to be exhibited in the US by the Bells and Bridges Foundation for an international art project; in 1995 she held the distinction of being the youngest to be represented at the Sanjeev Memorial Art Exhibition. More recently, in 2003, Sarala was invited to exhibit one of her paintings with other local artists of repute at the Exhibition /Auction of paintings organized by the Child Protection Society of Ceylon, Inc., in association with the Royal Commonwealth Society.

Painting definitely runs in her family: In 2001 her work was exhibited along with her mother's and grandmother's.

The forthcoming solo exhibition will largely feature a collection of wild life paintings - of leopards, elephants, monkeys and birds done using a mixed media of gouache, soft pastels and watercolour pencils. "I have tried to capture animals in their element, portraying their expressions of fear or anger, and the real colours of their environment," Sarala points out.

The impressionist paintings in contrast are oils done in vibrant hues. Unlike the others, she finds these more fun to paint as she is allowed freedom to play around with colours.

A former head girl of Lyceum International School, Sarala who awaits admission to a degree programme in Environmental Science/Chemistry/Ecology is currently a volunteer teacher's assistant at the School's Resource Room, working with children suffering from conditions such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy and Down's syndrome.

Those students she stresses need help to achieve some sense of normalcy and not be a burden to society. Hence proceeds from the sale of her paintings would go towards facilities (parallel bars) for the special children.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.