- A centenary celebration of an unprecedented textile arts practice
The Aluwihare Heritage Centre warmly presents to you a series of events celebrating the birth centenary of Ena de Silva. For decades, de Silva’s explorations of batik and embroidery established a new artistic paradigm for Sri Lankan textiles. These explorations focused not only on furthering the craft but greatly on the empowerment of rural and urban women through strengthening modes of self-reliance.
Inspired by long-held traditional craft production intermingled with ideas from other disciplines and cultures, Ena de Silva and her workshop in Aluwihare-Matale furthered the making of a Sri Lankan imaginary that inspired and represented a changing modern society.
The series of events will be showcased at Barefoot Loft Gallery, Rithihi, the De Saram House, and the private residence of architect C. Anjalendran. Events will take place between 22 October and 3 November. Admission for all events is free and open to everyone from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
The main exhibition ‘Ena de Silva and the Making of a Sri Lankan Modern’ displays rare and exquisite originals made by Ena and her collaborators across the two main principal agents of her practice, batik and embroidery, while highlighting many of their origins to better understand her work and its significance to the art history of Sri Lanka. Many of these objects are being seen for the first time and carefully curated by Ena’s lifelong friends and collaborators Amila de Mel and Channa Daswatte. The exhibit will be on display between 22 October to 3 November at the Barefoot Gallery in Colombo 3.
Concurrently, an exhibition of Ena’s sarees will be on display from 22 October to 3 November at Rithihi, 19 Alfred House Gardens, Colombo 3. Paying homage to true South Asian culture and fashion, Ena designed and produced a number of sarees for family and friends over the years, ranging in complexity from simple batik cotton sarees to highly intricate applique work and sometimes a combination of both. This exhibition will reflect Ena’s style and how she created her own version of high fashion, which were both accessible and relevant as Sri Lanka looked towards its own traditions to inform its modern culture.
In Battaramulla, architect C. Anjalendran will open the doors to his private residence as he shares memories of his friend Ena and presents his remarkable collection of Ena-designed sarongs and memorabilia. This will take place on the weekend of 22 and 23 October, with specific viewing times. On 22 October at 5.30 p.m., Anjalendran will host an online talk ‘The celebrated life of Ena de Silva by architect Anjalendran’ via Zoom. Both these events require prior registration on Eventbrite (www.aluwihareheritagecentre.eventbrite.com).
The De Saram House will open its doors for ‘Living with Ena,’ where one can immerse themselves in the eclectic world of Ena de Silva through an in situ showcase of homeware crafted through traditional techniques of batik and embroidery by the Aluwihare Heritage Centre. This immersive exhibit gives a sneak peek at how she lived while empowering not only the craft but the space itself. This will take place on the weekend of 29 and 30 October at 61/6 Ward Place, Colombo 7.
The events are presented by Aluwihare Heritage Centre and are supported by Barefoot Gallery, Rithihi, Geoffrey Bawa Trust, John Keells Foundation, and Anantara Kalutara Resort and Spa.
For more information, visit the Facebook or Instagram page of the Aluwihare Heritage Centre (@aluwihareheritagecentre).