This book, designed to resemble a postal parcel, wrapped in brown paper and adorned with stamps, seals and addresses, is a unique experiment between four leading Sri Lankan artists; Muhanned Cader, T Shanaathanan, Chandragupta Thenuwara and Jagath Weerasinghe.
Commissioned by Raking Leaves, this project is a sequenced exchange of drawings spanning over a year, in a climate that was politically charged and fraught with turmoil. The book archives an artistic dialogue wherein the artists, living in the cities of Jaffna and Colombo, generated drawings and sent them to each the other. Each work is corelated with the others and yet, significant by itself.
The book comprises of 208 drawings depicting the state of violence through the creativity of Sri Lankan art. It is accompanied by a booklet with text that gives a contextual background to the works. The semblance of regular life is included through events such as a birthday celebration, yet the tragedy of civil war, through the listing of bombings.
One gets familiar with the distinct styles of the artists about halfway through the book. Cader’s graphic sketches, some on construction paper, are lively and interesting, while the more somber-hued paintings of tortuous human forms of Jaffna-based artist T Shanaathanan, pattern-like drawings of Chandraguptha and the abstract works of Jagath are thought provoking.
This project is a visual narrative of the destruction caused by war. Yet, this nation in limbo, fostered a collaborative and creative dialogue. The reader here has to perceive and create an underlying subtext that connects the images with words. There may be gaps in the reading, yet the uniqueness of this dialogue leaves the reader in anticipation of newer, more harmonious exchanges to come.
Book: The One Year Drawing Project: May 2005-October 2007
Commissioned and published by Raking Leaves, London and Colombo
Text: The artists and Mariah Lookman
Edited: Sharmini Perera
Price GBP 20
Some images from the book…