Turning metal into art | Sunday Observer

Turning metal into art

It has been centuries since art has left its traditional notions and ventured in to the revolutionary. It no longer adheres to its stringent theories regarding medium, composition or colour. It has become an expression. Salome Nanayakkara a.k.a The Metal Doodler is one of the many examples of this evolution. She assembles, burns and paints metal until it becomes a reflection of her innermost being.

Tracing her love for combining various materials, Salome recalls her childhood memories “I used to be always crafting, and that’s long before school taught us how to. I never bought a birthday card. I always made it”.

“I have no formal education in art or design. I just love using my hands to create things!”

Her preferred choice of medium is primarily metal. Nevertheless, she does not deprive herself from utilising electronic waste and even watch parts for her work.

“I like using spare parts. It could be metal or even plastic. Someone would see it as a piece of metal on the floor but I would see it as something I can make it in to and give it a new life”.

One of her mystifying traits is her source of inspiration. “Sometimes, I just see metal and that’s my inspiration. Some people would have an idea and then they would want to execute it. I work in reverse. I see the material and then it inspires me to create it in to something”. Salome also credits artists she finds online and even her daughters drawings for influencing her in terms of style.

Describing her creative process as ‘difficult’, she does not commit to a particular time frame to start or finish a particular work. “There have been times, when I would start on a piece, take a break for a few weeks and then start on it again”. She confesses that like most artists, inspiration is a big part of her motivation when it comes to execution.

To the viewer, her style is unconcealed, it is detailed yet minimalist. “I like interpreting things in a very simplistic manner. Therefore, my work is a reflection of this. Internally, I would have a million thoughts and feelings when I am creating something, but the end result isn’t that as you can clearly see,” she adds with a laugh.

An unfortunately common challenge faced by Salome and many other artists is the inconsistent flow of income. She also feels that there are other elements that stand in the way of artistic development. “I feel the opportunity to reach a wide audience is tough here. But as I know how to use social media, I am not completely lost. Sri Lanka does not offer a supportive environment for artists. Even commercial galleries here take 50 per cent in commission”.

Finding freedom in her work, she doesn’t believe in defining herself as an artist. “I find that to be too limiting”. However, she has a deep and realistic view of her work. “My art is borderline design and not only art. It’s a marriage between art and design”. In fact, a major highlight of her career was when she was approached by a designer from the brand KUR to collaborate on a collection using lace and metal. This collection was featured in the New York Fashion Week this year.

As Salome grows as an artist, criticism becomes an inevitable part of the journey. Interestingly, she has a laid back approach to it. “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Accepting criticism really depends on who gives it. I am more than open to constructive criticism. If it’s going to better my work, yes, of course, I am open to it”.

The satisfaction she has found in her work has been immeasurable to her wellbeing. It has given her a sense self worth in an almost celestial kind of way. “My work has enabled me to survive and given me direction that I much needed. As a person, I am temperamental. Whatever job I’ve done, I’ve never stayed in it for long. Art is the only thing that I’ve retained”.

Salome’s goals for the future remain modest and visually accessible. “I want to get my own studio space, and hopefully to do more collaborations as well”. She chooses to keep her work intricate and in a frame, and fondly refers to it as ‘metal on paper’. She takes great pleasure in knowing that her work has travelled near and far. “It is like I am leaving a legacy behind. Each work has a little bit of my soul in it. I leave little bits of my soul with people”