Sep 02 2022. views 239
On Saturday, 27th August 2022 parents and art students gathered at the Shyamala School of Art for the first-ever opening of a children’s gallery museum in Sri Lanka. ‘Remembering Frida’ was the theme for the debut and every wall, nook and corner of the school proudly displayed artwork done by students aged 4 and upwards, inspired by the story of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
At the launch, the Founder of the Art School, Shyamala Pinto Jayawardena said, “children often create fantastic works of art but most of the time they get discarded and thrown away. We wanted to build a space to display the exceptional work our students do here at art school and that’s why we are happy to launch Sri Lanka’s first-ever children’s gallery museum today. The gallery recognises that children, even at a small age, can make amazing art and having their work displayed at a museum encourages them to keep creating.”
The theme ‘Remembering Frida’ was inspired by Sri Lanka’s most recent self-imposed lockdown due to fuel issues and difficulties. “Learning about Frida felt timely. At a time when we kept hearing the words ‘no’ and ‘I can’t do it’ and seeing children absorb and get influenced by this attitude, we wanted to remind them that against all odds, you still can” shared Shyamala, “Frida had a very difficult life with pain, suffering and hardship. She suffered from Polio as a child and when she was older, she met with an accident that broke all the bones in her body. During her recovery, she turned to art and she went on to become a celebrated artist with a unique self-identity. When we taught the children about Frida, they really picked up on it and started to create work inspired by her. Frida’s life became a living lesson for all of us.”
The ‘Experience Frida Kahlo’ is the first gallery rotation at the Shyamala School of Art and will continue to be on display over the next 3-4 months. The colourful works of art from the students showcase the nuanced and individual approaches each student brings to their work – their styles, colours, textures and mediums speak for themselves. “It’s a really important time for an art school to operate. There is a lot of negativity with everything going on and children mirror that. It’s important to show them that they are capable of beautiful things and art does that. When they create something and people appreciate it, it builds value in them and it heals them during tough times.”
The Shyamala School of Art is over 21 years old and Founder Shyamala, with over 47 years of teaching experience, has shaped numerous budding artists through the years. With her sunny and nurturing personality, children swarm to her at every turn – eager to show her their latest work and receive a warm compliment and feedback. The Art School teaches children as little as 4 years old and has also made room for children with special needs and learning difficulties. The Art School also conducts classes for adults.
The Shyamala School of Art is also the only institution that is accredited by British Council for London and Local O/L and A/L Art. The new gallery museum will display exam portfolios of students who did Art for their exams for perusal by anyone keen on learning more about the subject.
Pix by Waruna Wanniarachchi