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Sunday, 1 September 2002  
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'Feathers' on display

An exhibition of bird sketches and paintings by artist Lester Perera will offer rare glimpses into Sri Lanka's wide and varied bird life. Called 'Feathers', the exhibition will be open from September 6-8 at Lionel Wendt Gallery, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

One of the exhibits

Thirty works of art will be on display - most of them water colour paintings. Others will consist of black and white drawings as well as acrylic paintings.

Lester prefers drawing endemic bird species - "The forest species are very interesting, but difficult to locate, and involve more effort and skill to capture in drawing," he says.

"I don't see myself as an artist or illustrator, but really an avid bird watcher who also sketches birds for pleasure," Lester introduces himself. Those who have seen his work, however, appreciate his mastery of artistic skill, attention to detail and commitment to produce authentic portraits of his favourite avifauna.

Lester Perera

Lester produces paintings and drawings based on field sketches that are painstakingly and patiently made during or just after field observations. "For me, this is the most thrilling part of bird watching," he says. "Some birds are very rare and therefore difficult to spot in the wild - such as the Scaly Thrush. The challenge is to commit to memory or sketch book enough detail of such rare birds so that I can draw an authentic painting."

Lester is a self-taught bird watcher and artist who has combined his artistic skill with his passion for nature and wildlife.

He quit his private sector job last year to devote time to his twin passions of bird watching and bird painting. He now works as a specialist tour guide for groups of foreign tourists who arrive in Sri Lanka on bird watching excursions.

Painting birds in flight is particularly difficult, and involves many hours of observing the same species from different angles. Varying light and ground conditions make this task even more arduous. "Giving life to any living creature on paper is indeed a challenge.

"It's both a gift and a skill that needs to be sharpened over years," says the young artist whose work has adorned magazine covers, as well as specialist and popular books on bird watching. Among the books he has illustrated is Birdwatchers Guide to Sri Lanka, published by the Oriental Bird Club (OBC) and published in the UK. His work has appeared in journals such as Bulletins of the OBC and Loris published by the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society of Sri Lanka.

These days, Lester has to balance his tour guide role with his need to capture details of birds he would like to sketch. He rarely uses photographs and never the birds in captivity for his paintings. Instead, he combines quick field sketches with what he commits to memory.

The exhibited work will also be available for sale. Part of the sales income will go towards an award to a grassroots level person who has served the cause of conservation. Lester Perera will consult with several environmentalists to find a deserving recipient of this award, which will be a gesture of recognition from one nature lover to another.


Six days more for Black Dawn

The Thomian Dramsoc the only theatre group that has been active ever since its inception in 1872, will in its 130th year of productions stage Black Dawn an unusual compilation of plays.

The production is different from the rest of the Dramsoc's work, in that it's a culmination of three plays with a continuous theme and moral.

The human being is the victim of society in the plays, each having its own issue, but the characters are in some sort of issue which proves to be fatal at the end of each play.The three plays are 'After midnight before dawn', 'David's birthday' and 'Progress' directed by the talented Vinodh Senadeera assisted by Niran Ankitell and Troy Manatunga. Black Dawn goes on the boards on September 6 till September 8 at the Lionel Wendt with a cast that includes Troy Manatunga, Niran Ankitell, Jithendra Seneviratne, Irshard Hameed, Suresh de Silva, Shehan Grey and Naveen Perera.


From the willow to the pen

by Padma Edirisinghe

Dr. Brendon Gooneratne

Sportsman, medical practitioner, researcher, collector, environmentalist, writer, historian, benefactor - Can the average bulk of a human present so many varied avatars in one single life time? Dr. Brendon Gooneratne, one of our own ilk has proved that it can be done. Of course he would not dream of crowing about his achievements from his house top in Colombo 3 or from his architectural brainchild, the Pemberley House built on the 4000 feet above sea level hills of Haputale to house writers.

In fact when in conversation with him I asked him what galvanizes him so much intensive action in such varied fields his reply was far from exuberant. But I could fathom the grit, the determination, the sacrifice of mundane comforts for intense academic work, even the moral rectitude leading to an almost spiritual ethos (based mainly on a Buddhist background, as he explained later).

Of course he gave one explicit explanation. "I get up at 4.30 a.m. everyday and make the optimum use of the day till late into the night."

BG has been in the limelight since the 50s, as head of the Royal cricket team, then going on to captain the university cricket team. His latest project is the Pemberley Project for writers. To put his massive plan into action he bought the Veheragala estate where was built the famous Pemberley International Centre. Dr. Brendon has put out a voluminous amount of writings, mostly by himself and jointly with his renowned writer - wife, Yasmine, a professor.

Here too he displays a unique aspect. From his original stream of study of arts that comprised English literature. history, Buddhism, Latin and Greek he had gone over to the science stream despite the fact that he had already won Royal's B. F. de Silva Memorial Prize for History. But his transformation into a student of medicine had equally brilliant results for he received the coveted Best Memorial Medical Research Fellowship in London in 1967. In fact his book, "Lymphography - Clinical and experimental" is today one of the much acclaimed texts of medicine. But it is as a writer of historical incidents and personages that BG has not only shown his brilliance but his patriotic fervour too.

In his "The epic struggle of the kingdom of Kandy and its relevance to modern Indo-SL relations" he writes, "This is the story of how a small kingdom... defied the might of European invaders for more than 300 years. Well organized military civilizations as the Incas of Peru, Aztecs of Mexico, Indian tribes of North America, kings and warrior chieftans of India, the Moguls, the South African Zulus, the Ashanti of West Africa, the Benin civilization succumbed to Western military onslaught and destruction."

From the vast research unearthed for this book was born the work (done jointly with Yasmine) "This inscrutable Englishman", i.e. Sir John D'Oyly who played his own unique role at the time of the British capture of Kandy, more allied to the subjugated than to the invader. Few are aware that BG was commissioned by late J. R. Jayewardene to compile the book titled "From Governor's Residence to President's House". Massive in size and profusely illustrated it traces the story of the Janadhipathi Mandiraya from Van Angelbeek's residence in Dutch times to the glorious edifice it is today.

This brings you to BG's role as collector. His collecting mania of old maps, engravings and paintings on Ceylon and historical documents and texts on the country began very early that today he can be reckoned as the owner of one of the largest collections of such material that he puts into optimum use in his writings. To add to all this he is an ardent environmentalist too. The area around Pemberley he has allowed to grow into thick jungle where romp deer and rabbits in uninhibited freedom.

In Australia he is the president of Project Jonah Australia, an organization providing a sanctuary for whales and dolphins. Luckily for us Dr. Brendon Gooneratne has now decided to live half the year in his homeland and for easy access to others.


Discovery of one's real self

by Vimukthi Fernando

Kamal the pickpocket

Pickpocket or not - imagine the plight of the man who finds a photograph of his wife, treasured in another man's pocket. That is only the beginning of the tragedy of Kamal the pickpocket. His whole world crumbling down and suspecting his wife, Kamal seeks the owner of the purse only to find out the actions his "left hand" performed without the knowledge of his right. That's what it is all about - the discovery of one's real self. Being one's own enemy. Mage Wam Atha (my left hand) is the story of how guilt consumes the life of Kamal, the 'Pickpocket'. Directed and produced by Linton Semage, Mage Wam Atha will be launched at Regal on Friday, September 6.

Set in the background of open economy and the garment industry which flourished with many incentives and cheap labour force from the villages, this is one story depicting the disillusionment of the influx of youth from the village to the city, caught in the dilemma of the rural-urban transition. Employing the experience and the expertise of veteran artistes as well as young talent, the director brings out the abuse and exploitation that become part and parcel of life, when one focuses on fast cash for mere survival.

This is the second film directed by Linton Semage, who had won many accreditations as an actor in films, teledramas and stage plays. His first film 'Padadaya' (The Outcast) screened at many international film festivals won the Best Film and Best Director awards at the sixth Dhaka International Film Festival 2000, in Bangladesh. It was also awarded the Best Actor, Best Cinematography and Best Director by the Sri Lanka Film Critics Forum. Mage Wam Atha, his second film has so far represented Sri Lanka at seven international film festivals including those that were held at Kerala-India, Locarno-Switzerland, Manila-Phillipines.

The cast include Linton Semage as Kamal the Pickpocket, Dilhani Ekanayake as Kamal's wife, Gayani Gisanthika, Sarath Kothalawala, Mahendra Perera and Saumya Liyanage. Cinematography is by M.D. Mahindapala while editing, sound and music are by Elmo Halliday, Lional Gunaratne and Pradeep Ratnayake respectively. A script by Priyankara Ratnayake, Mage Wam Atha is a joint production by Harsha Kaldera and Semage.


Fiftieth performance of Vrushaba Raja

A scene from the play

Today is the 50th performance of Vijaya Nandasiri's latest drama " Vrushaba Raja". The play will be staged at the Tower Hall Theatre at 3.30 pm and 6.30 pm, sponsored by the Hemas Group of Companies in aid of its Workers' Cooperative Union.

The cast include Devika Mihirani, Vijaya Nandasiri, Gihan Fernando, Asela Jayakody, Kumara Thirimadura, Neil Ravindra, Navanjana Mihirani, Jayantha Rathnayake, Chaminda Prasad and Basil Steelman. Music by Tharupathi Munasinghe.

Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources

HNB-Pathum Udanaya2002

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