Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)

Ena’s crafts make comeback for Bawa centenary celebratio­ns


De Silva + Bawa: Craft + Architectu­re, an exhibition of Ena de Silva-designed batik and craft produced in collaborat­ion with Geoffrey Bawa for his most iconic architectu­ral projects, will be open to the public from January 23 to February 4, in the Urban Island Artspace, 181 Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7.

The exhibition has been timed to complement the celebratio­ns underway for “Bawa 100”( Bawa’s birth centenary) as Ena de Silva was a collaborat­or, peer and friend of the legendary architect. Exhibition curator Amila de Mel said, “We are delighted to celebrate the work of Ena de Silva and her extraordin­ary artisans. Not everyone realizes the extent to which superb craft, particular­ly that of Ms de Silva, was integrated into Mr Bawa’s architectu­ral vision. And this creative collaborat­ion has influenced the next generation of Sri Lankan architects.”

More generally, “De Silva + Bawa” will celebrate the virtuosity and richness of the work produced by Ms de Silva and the artisan cooperativ­es she founded in Aluwihare.

Ena de Silva (1922 - 2015) was an outstandin­g Sri Lankan artist and designer, particular­ly noted for her leading role in developing Sri Lanka’s contempora­ry batik industry. She first worked with Geoffrey Bawa in 1960 after she and her husband approached the architect to design a house for them in Colombo. She subsequent­ly developed a long-term profession­al relationsh­ip with

Mr Bawa which included designing batik flags and ceiling and wall panels for his buildings amongst other things. Ms de Silva establishe­d the Matale Heritage Centre, a cooperativ­e of highly talented artisans, in 1964. The cooperativ­e (now called the Aluwihare Heritage Centre) continues to operate producing exquisite batik and other handmade items.

General Manager of Urban Island Ishara Wijemanne said, “A wide range of Ena de Silva designed items will be on display including ceiling and wall panels, flags, clothing, tableware, sculptures, and wood and metal artifacts produced for major architectu­ral projects. We are grateful to the various organisati­ons that have loaned us pieces for display.”

“Urban Island is delighted to host this exhibition as it very much fits in with our commitment to promoting the very best of Sri Lankan design and craft,” she added.

A consortium of public and private organizati­ons committed to promoting Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage and nurturing design and craft talent are behind the exhibition. These organizati­ons include ADM Architects Colombo, AOD Design Academy, Cinnamon Hotels, Design for Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Foundation (DFSD), the Aluwihare Heritage Centre, the Geoffrey Bawa Trust, Cinnamon Life, John Keells Foundation, Lunuganga Trust, and Urban Island.

 ??  ?? Work of art: Ena’s ceiling batik designed for the Bentota Beach Hotel
Work of art: Ena’s ceiling batik designed for the Bentota Beach Hotel
 ??  ?? Ena de Silva: Outstandin­g artist and designer. Pic by David Robson
Ena de Silva: Outstandin­g artist and designer. Pic by David Robson

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