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Sri Lankan Art - Janaka De Silva

Galle, Sri Lanka

Meet the colorful and incredibly talented Janaka De Silva – master carver, artist, and entrepreneur. Spend two days with him in his personal workshop turning an average block of wood into a beautiful, traditional Sri Lankan work of art. Join him and his assistants as they guide you through the history of the local mask and mask making culture, traditional tools, carving techniques, and safety before carving one yourself. The first day of your experience will be spent shaping and carving out the mask. The support staff (also local carvers) will guide you through the process and step in whenever help is needed. The carved our block of wood will be dried overnight and you will return the next day to add in further detail and smooth out the rough edges before painting them either the traditional way, or as you like it. At the end of the experience you will take back with you great memories (and even the skills needed to open your own workshop) and your very own mask”. Janaka, sitting among his latest curated exhibition pieces in the old city of Galle Fort, says, “Since I was small, I have painted images inspired by the civilisations of the great kings, who believed water and its conservation were key elements of a civilised world. In the Galle Fort, I feel very close to the oceanic world, as a lot of the historic buildings, including my art gallery, are made from coral and shells, used as ballast in the old trading ships.” Famous for his mask making master classes and art tours to secret spots, Janaka says, “the ocean is one of the last great mysteries, revealed in programmes like the BBCs Blue Planet series. The more I learn, the more I realise how little we know about the sea that brought so many of us to this magical island to trade.” His long-term aim is to educate people about the importance of the ocean, by having underwater galleries around the island, so we can see first hand how we are linked to the sea. Also, visitors can use the gallery sites for scuba diving and snorkeling experiences. Like his international artistic counterparts in Mexico, Bali and Thailand, Janaka wants us all to join the conversation about border crossings, climate change and, most importantly of all, make us all part of the change we need to see in the world. By creating an underwater art gallery people can take that plunge into the ocean and see inspiring thought provoking sculptures, that might help us all understand better what still remains the greatest mystery of all, the sea.

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