By Bernadine Rodrigo
Swendrini Gunasekara opened the doors to the exhibition featuring her 106 pieces of artwork. The plain walls were now adorned with the beauty of a thousand worlds, with colours and depictions of anything that could possibly be imagined. Once you take a look at a single creation of Swendrini, you cannot look away. She makes the rest of the world disappear and throws you into a blissful trance where only you and her artwork exist. She creates a dream. This gift of creating dreams did not appear to her out of the blue – it was one she had cultivated from the day she could hold a brush and nurtured with all the knowledge she gained as she grew older. While she has been doing this all her life, her discovery of how important it is to her was made very recently. However, when this discovery was made, she set out to fulfil her “Million Dreams”.
Her collection was immensely diverse because, although her favourite artists come from the Renaissance era, she is able to be inspired by almost anything that comes her way. “Everything around me inspires me,” she said. “It changes from time to time and moment to moment – a drive by the ocean, a fiery sky at sunset, a serene temple against a clear blue sky, flowers, birds, nature, and of course the female form, which I think is one of the most beautiful and artistic designs of all time. The inspiration behind my current work and portfolio are my everyday dreams. I love travelling (who doesn’t?) and, of course, a journey to a new destination always brings in and adds more inspiration, more insights, and a million more ideas waiting to be put onto canvas.”
She believes that artwork is about finding beauty in things you see every day; about turning things, places, and people that surround us on a daily basis into a fantasy – a piece of art and a dream. She defines her collection as “a collection of work that inspires one on letting go of any and all restrictions, opening oneself up to a thousand possibilities and a million dreams”.
To come thus far and even allow people she has never seen before to dream a million dreams, she has worked tirelessly and passionately. Being a full-time mother and being able to paint only when time permits, having to balance the schedules of her three darling children, she needed a great deal of support and encouragement. She is thankful to her current art teacher Ms. Rhuani Rambukwella for giving her the initial push she needed to start and for the constant inspiration, confidence, and belief she has in her. She is able to keep going every day as she abides by her firm belief that you don’t have to be on top of the world’s tallest mountain or the world’s most breathtaking location to be inspired or moved by beauty.
“The sky at dawn when I wake, a sunset when I am driving the kids back from a full day of school and activities, a walk by the beach, a seashell I had collected many moons ago, the araliya scattered on the grass early morning bathed in dew, a woman balancing a child on her hips, the drapes and folds of a shawl or saree – these are the things that constantly recharge and inspire me every day.”
While art is her passion and it brings her great joy to dwell in, she wishes to spread a message of positivity to the entire world. Although she has reached a comfortable place when it comes to success, she believes that she is at the very beginning of discovering a wonderful world and an amazing dream. She envisions herself painting to her heart’s content in the future, with everything that inspires her.
“As long as I can help people dream, inspire, and put a smile on the face of the world, that is where I will be with my brush and palette in hand,” she expressed. “What I really want to do is invite the audience to see beauty, light, and colour in everyday things that surround us – the idea that nothing is mundane. Everything has potential to amaze and inspire, which is the most important message I would want to convey to the world.”
Photos Saman Abesiriwardana