Tripin 2019 - page 97

Can you tell me a bit about your
childhood? How did this time
shape you?
My home background was
Buddhist yet from the beginning
I never felt a tie to one religion.
My parents allowed me to have
freedom, to discover things for
myself – they respected this. All
humans beings have the potential
to free themselves; we have it
within us but it depends on how
strong our conditioning has been
as to how easy this is to do.
Different seeds grow differently
according to the soil.
As an artist, what inspires you
about Sri Lanka?
Rural life, and the rich and unique
geographical diversity of the
island. The less populated areas
of the country, where there is still
some magic alive, are particularly
inspiring.
Where are some of your favourite
places in Sri Lanka and why?
I love the Knuckles mountains – the
elevation makes me high! This is
because the more we elevate and
travel towards mountain peaks,
we are physically able to feel a
sense of levitation. This is the same
feeling we experience when we are
flying; it triggers the mind to work
differently and makes it easy to
meditate.
I also like the dry zone, the wet
zone hills, various caves and lakes.
Rumassala headland, close to
Galle, was a fairytale place when I
went in the late 80s – there were
paddy fields with a stream flowing
beside them, jungle footpaths and
a simple temple where a special
monk resided. Ussangoda, close
to Tangalle, is another place that
fascinates me. Legend has it that
an asteroid fell at this site which
explains why the earth is so red.
When it rains, the streams run like
blood. The minerals are unique
and the place has a certain power
to it. I have camped out and
painted there. Another spot that
has a special resonance for me is
Wedahitikanda, which is part of
the temple complex of Kataragama
in the deep south of the island.
There are several mystics and
yogis in residence – I remember
going in the 70s with my parents.
The place has real history – it is
said this is the tail of a spinal cord
of mountains that run all the way
down from Mount Khailash in India,
passing all the way into Sri Lanka
through places like Ritigala and
Adam’s Peak.
Where do you feel happiest?
In spaces where there is little
human interference.
Who or what has had the greatest
influence on your painting?
There are so many from Lao
Tzu to Syd Barratt! I have
been influenced by all kinds of
inspirational wandering saints and
their teachings including Marpa
Lotsawa, the Tibetan Buddhist
teacher; Milarepa, the Tibetan poet;
and the writers Herman Hesse and
Arthur C Clarke. There are also a
few local mystics such as Swami
Caesar, based in Kegalle; Swami
Matara based in Kataragama; and
Swami Rupe who lives in Pingama
that I have been fortunate enough
to associate with at different
times. Through their work, all these
individuals reflect on how blissful
life can be.
What is your view of the Sri
Lankan art scene?
It encompasses a whole spectrum
from reactionary art to noble art.
By noble I mean art that has the
power to heal.
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