By Pavani Jayasinghe Munagamage
“I dream my painting and paint my dream” – Vincent Van Gogh
If you are reside in Sri Lanka, while browsing social media (through a VPN), you are most likely seeing pictures of violence taking place around the country, breaking news almost every hour, and fake news in large numbers.
But in addition to all that, we also see positivity in the form of art; art in the form of poems and song but mostly art in the form of design that’s going viral. This Sunday, The Sunday Morning Brunch decided to capture some of those very pieces in commemoration of everything positive helping overcome the countless times our country faced and survived tragedy.
Zay is a Sri Lankan Muslim living in the UK who operates an Instagram page filled with characters spreading positive messages in the form of colourful doodles depicting events happening around the world today.
“As a Sri Lankan, I was deeply saddened, heartbroken, and shocked to see what happened to my county on Easter Sunday. As a person who lives abroad and witnessing everything from a distance, creating artwork was one of the ways I was able to connect and send love to my country and to those affected.”
“As a person who studied in a multicultural school, I have friends that belong to different religions and cultures. But it’s never been a concern for us. In fact, it’s never crossed our minds. Being multicultural has always been our country’s identity. So I felt that it was important for me to send this message of unity and togetherness at a time like this.”
“I saw so many posts online about the current situation. But I didn’t see many posts about what we should do next, following a tragedy like this. So I decided to create a post on what we can actually do to show our support and solidarity in the aftermath of such an event.”
Apsi (short for Apsara) is a maker of happy art in type and as illustrations. She drew what she felt in those first few hours of getting the news. “I thought bombs were in our past. I was really sad, so I drew.” Drawing is her way of coping with sadness. The little girl in her who had to watch a country at war wanted to give Sri Lanka a hug.
Her illustrations are childlike, cute, and quirky. They’re generally very happy looking and bright and she loves using puns. She draws to escape life.
Neamah Aslam is a physiotherapy graduate and a lettering artist.
“I illustrated this piece of art hoping to remind people that we have the privilege to make a choice, and that our choices can result in an entirely different outcome; thereby, encouraging them to choose love, peace, and harmony. My art, in light of the Sunday attacks, was inspired by the need to express positivity and growth, particularly at such a challenging time in the lives of the people of Sri Lanka. The words ‘choose love, peace, and harmony’ incorporated into the outline of my image was my way of expressing continuity and coexistence, regardless of what may befall us. The peace dove’s wing bears the colours of the national flag, hoping for peace in Mother Lanka.”
“This artwork of blossoming flora represents the original beauty of our tropical island set against a black background to express sadness and grief. The space created by the surrounding yet engulfing flowers is in the shape of Sri Lanka along with the hand-lettered message. This is to portray that our nation will emerge and rise again amidst all the chaos and despair the recent Easter Sunday attacks created.”
“This illustration was drawn with a heavy heart, bearing in mind the loss of loved ones merely enjoying the peaceful and joyous activities of an Easter Sunday morning. The flowers here are drawn as a symbol of love and grief to those no longer with us, one week after the 21 April attacks. The flora is in the shape of a heart to voice my thoughts: ‘Forever in our hearts, lest we forget’.”
All the artwork posted on their Instagram platform and Facebook page focused on spreading a positive message through social media. These then went viral around the country during the Easter attack. A range of pieces of unique art created by Radical Soul Designs was presented through the social media platforms of Café Kumbuk.
Café Kumbuk Co-founder Shana Dandeniya said: “We always try to foster a sense of community by spreading positive messages through our artwork. This artwork, in particular, was created to remind people to support small local businesses which in turn help feed families and the economy. The illustration shows characters of different races and religions working together to rebuild a better Sri Lanka.”
Muvindu Binoy (artist/filmmaker) represented by Saskia Fernando Gallery
“I saw how people started posting so much vulgarity on social media right after the Easter attacks. I just wanted to say that it’s all going to be okay if we hold one another and keep loving our neighbour. We must ‘stay strong’, undivided, and a wholesome Lanka, holding each citizen without cruel intentions.”