Film and Stone – a different kind of presentationAugust 4, 2012, 4:47 pm
An exhibition and sale of photographs and wearable art will be on at the Barefoot 706 Gallery, Colombo 4, on 11th and 12th August. It will certainly be different since the works are not the usual you would see in a local exhibition. The presentation itself will be unique since much planning has gone into the event. Most of the colour photographs are close ups of tree barks and clouds. The abstract quality gives them a sense of ambiguity and mystery. The wearable art differs from customary pieces of adornment. Silver is used extensively with unique stones and shards of sea glass to create cleverly designed necklaces, bracelets, rings and brooches.
Photographs by Chitra Premaratne-Stuiver
Chitra’s colour photographs were taken over a span of ten years during the 1990s. She is relatively new to the local art scene having lived since 1961 in Honolulu before moving with her husband Willem in 2003, to spend their retirement in Sri Lanka. An art librarian by profession, Chitra worked at the Hawaii State Library and later at a contemporary art museum in Honolulu. Her lifelong leisure time activity has been photography. Her colour photographs are unique. It is obvious that great care and technical expertise went into taking them. She used a Nikon FE2 camera and lens with macro capacity perched on a tripod. She prefers to work with low speed film in natural light. Particularly eye catching are her bark and cloud series in which she captures their infinite variety in colour, pattern and texture. She has also photographed special subjects and scenes like the ‘Lone Surfer’; ‘Camouflage’ and ‘Stone Age Frog’. A few of her photographs feature her favorite collectables taken in a way that gives them a playful or meditative character as in ‘Blessings of Gara Yaka’; "Love in the Stone Age" and "Neophyte". I was fascinated by her photographs where one image was superimposed over another to create a special effect or to express a particular mood or emotion. She has selected only two examples, ‘Offering’ and ‘Weaving’ for this exhibition. She hopes to have another exhibition at a future date which would include more double exposures.
Wearable art by Mihiri Devendre
"I look at stones and even pieces of glass for colour and beauty in impurities within. I need these ‘birthmarks’ which make it more interesting and accentuate the authenticity of the stone used. This fact is contrary to ‘pure’ gemstones like the sapphire which lose when faults are detected in the stone. Gem stones, whether semiprecious or precious, are all precious to me. Glass has been used by me - broken bits of sea glass mostly - and bits that catch my eye when on travels."
I was stunned by the bracelet she showed me of shards of blue and green glass inset in silver in an eye-catching design. Her pendants with stones she called ‘Labradorits’ are very intriguing with spider web like patterns within the shaded beige and pinky orange stones. "I know exactly what I want when I gaze at trays of stone. I pick up what catches my eye and polish it up. I have had luck too: since from my childhood we were made to observe and pay attention to detail. Even now I look around me when I walk and on one of these occasions while walking in Bandarawela, my eye caught a glimpse of sunlight flash off the stony pathway and found it was a partly broken quartz crystal!! All covered in mud…but now it’s set in a ring and has brought a lot of luck and attention to my kind of jewellery… because it’s bold and different. I am told they bring much luck and good energy to the persons wearing these stones I design into wearable art."
Mihiri started her jewellery making vocation which developed from a hobby two decades ago. She designed her first piece when she was fourteen. She found that friends and acquaintances were keen to possess items of jewellery made by her so she launched herself into it as a business. She has her business enterprise which she named Leap Designer Jewellery with her logo as a leaping frog. This creature is incorporated in many of her pieces. Chitra was wearing a huge purple agate clutched by a silver frog in a leaping stance when I met the two artists in Chitra’s home.
Mihiri’s penchant for designing jewellery was encouraged by Nalini Weerasinghe when as a child Mihiri attended Cora Abraham art classes. She soon converted her like to a full time occupation. She followed a two-year diploma course in jewellery making at the Maradana Technical College and then went on to study fine arts at Karnataka Chitra Kala Parishath in Bangalore. She has also followed short courses here and in India. She worked as consultant to USAID, the Industrial Development Board and the Export Development Board, to develop contemporary designs and skills with the traditional gold and silversmith in rural parts of the country.
Mihiri sells her jewellery mostly to friends who take many pieces and some resell them in overseas countries. The selling business is only two years old. Her pieces can be bought at Barefoot and of course at the exhibition from 11th to 12th August.
Do not miss this exhibition. It is an event where you may very well emerge with a photograph under your arm or a piece of wearable art in your handbag. The exhibition is open on the two days mentioned from 10.00 a m to 7.00 in the evening at the gallery behind Barefoot, Galle Road, Bambalapitiya.
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