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Sunday, 20 July 2003  
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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Lionel Wendt Theatre 

Fifty years of dedication to the Arts

Lionel Wendt

The Lionel Wendt Art Centre is dedicated, as intended, to the performing arts, to drama, ballet and music and to painting, sculpture and photography. It came about through the bequests of two brothers, Lionel and Harry Wendt, who both died young within a year of each other, in 1944 and 1945 respectively.

Lionel Wendt was a barrister whose principal interests lay not in Law but in music and photography. He was a virtuoso pianist whose performances were highly regarded, and he was a dedicated teacher.

As a photographer he earned the early plaudits of people in the profession; he was accorded the rare distinction of a one-man exhibition hosted by the makers of the famous Leica cameras in London in 1938.

In 1943, the '43 Group, a fellowship of distinguished Sri Lankan artists, was formed under his patronage.

Upon his death, his brother Harry and their friend, Harold Peiris, decided to commemorate Lionel Wendt in an Arts Complex. However, with Harry Wendt's early death the task of implementing it was left to Harold Peiris. He was to devote his whole life to this project, lavishing vast sums of his own money to see it completed.

The Lionel Wendt Theatre opened in December 1953 with the production of Maxim Gorky's "Lower Depths" with a cast of some of Colombo's most accomplished amateur actors directed by Neumann Jubal.

Professor Ediriweera Sarachchandra's "Maname" was produced at the Lionel Wendt Theatre in 1956, breaking new ground. With Chitrasena's "Karadiya" which had its first performance here in 1961, the Wendt became the most widely-used venue for performances of plays in both Sinhala and English with the occasional production of a play in Tamil. It has also been the place for the performance of musical concerts, Bharata Natyam, arangetrams and recitals of classical music, both Western and Indian.

The Gallery has hosted innumerable exhibitions of the work of Sri Lankan artists, and the studios of the Photographic Society of Sri Lanka serve a wide variety of people, amateur and professional. Indeed, the Centre has fulfilled every aspect of its dedication as a place for the practice and performance of all the Arts.

- Neville Weeraratne


Lankan artists display work at 'Elephant corridor'

‘Bherunda Pakshya’ (double headed eagle) acrylic on canvas by Chaminda Gamage. 

The paintings by Sri Lankan artists that were exhibited at the 'October Gallery' in London recently in a show organised by the Serendib Gallery, Colombo, are now on display at the Elephant Corridor Hotel, Sigiriya.

The paintings which hang in the hotel suites, are for sale and the proceeds will entirely benefit the artists concerned, said Susanne Filippin, Executive Director of the hotel. 

Sudath Abeysekera, Pradeep Chandrani, Chaminda Gamage and Jagath Ravindra are some of the artists whose work is on display.


Jerome and Haig win : Synergy in theatrum awards 2003

To recognise, to reward, to award. This is what was planned for those who painstakingly sweated to enrich English Theatre in Sri Lanka. After a couple of postponements, the award ceremony did take place on June 22. The 'Oscar Awards' styled inner theatre was missing. But the nominees Indu Dharmasena, Jerome de Silva, Mohammed Adamally, Feroze Kamardeen and the recipient of the life-time achievement award for his contribution to English Theatre development, performance and entertainment support, Haig Karunaratne, with their families and inspirers filled the room.

Jerome de Silva became the first-ever recipient of the Synergy in Theatrum Award 2003. He received a handsome trophy along with an elegant scroll recording his achievement. Jerome received the Award from the President YMCA Colombo. The lifetime achievement Award recipient Haig Karunaratne was introduced in 'Oscar Style' by Jerome. Beginnings of Jerome's journey were traced back to the late '70s where Jerome met Haig and worked in a full-length Julius Caesar Production by Haig.

Karunaratne received his Award from the Chairman of the Central Committee of Management of the YMCA and expressed his thanks for the recognition. Haig insisted that his work in the field of English Theatre is certainly not over. He welcomed the idea of launching a drama school to encourage and cultivate all aspects of Theatre entertainment and suggested the presentation of a 'Shakespeare Festival' of productions to encompass all of Lanka.

Mohammed Adamally representing the nominees who did not receive the 2003 Award, thanked the YMCA Colombo for organising an event which recognised their efforts and endorsed the winner Jerome as the most worthy first recipient. Adam was pleased to be rated alongside Jerome and unanimously agreed to support any idea of promoting and developing English Theatre in Sri Lanka.


Landscape artist to display 400 foot mural shortly

Sanath Wickramarachchi 

Landscape artist Sanath Wickramarachchi, will shortly display what he claims is the largest mural in Sri Lanka in a key location in Colombo. It will be 400 feet in length he says.

Hailing from Matugama, Sanath followed a diploma in sculpture in 1981 and 1982. According to him, a landscape architect uses his or her imagination to enhance the contours and colours of nature, blending them with the surroundings to produce the desired harmonious effect.

A mural done by Sanath

"When doing a mural or a landscape I always pay much attention to the needs of clients, the ecological balance and also the practical problems such as the availability of water in the particular place etc. When designing a garden for a residence the client's lifestyle, the size of the family, the financial constraints should all be taken into account. I always help my clients to have beautifully landscaped gardens and also well designed interiors at very low costs. 

Every garden should have a theme and a focal point and thus the colours should be mixed and merged as in an oil painting. I do not consider my profession as a business," says Sanath.

- Arundathie


'Charitha Hathak' third anniversary celebration

The play 'Charitha Hathak' a political satire directed by Wilson Gunaratne will go on the boards of the Elphinstone Theatre, at 3.30 pm and 6.30 pm on July 20. The play involves seven different characters portrayed by Wilson Gunaratne, each having a different personality and more interestingly a different voice.

This would be certainly a new experience for Sri Lankan drama as it gives the audience the complete freedom and right to make the final judgement. It is a smart witty comedy and the laughter just comes tumbling out.


Bright environment

An exhibition of recent paintings by Nihal Sangabo Dias will commence on July 25, at 'The Art Gallery' Nugegoda, at 18A, Sarasavi Gardens, Nawala Road.

The exhibition titled 'Bright Environment' will be opened by Prof. Ashley Halpe and Mrs. Bridget Halpe and continues till July 31. 'The Art Gallery' is run by artist S.H. Sarath.

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