Running Rivers : Pilgrims of Place | Sunday Observer

Running Rivers : Pilgrims of Place

30 July, 2023

Running Rivers: Pilgrims of Place, an International exhibition by Kuweni Dias Mendis ft. Anup Vega is now on At Barefoot, 704, Galle Road, Colombo and it will continue until August 17.

Kuweni is a Sri Lankan Australian diasporic artist based in Australia since 1999. A diasporic artist is an artist who has migrated from one part of the world to another and who express their diverse experience of culture and identity in the work they make.

‘Running Rivers’ explores themes of belonging, regeneration, and migrant identity through our connection with waterways. The project is divided into two parts. The first part, ‘Pigments of Place,’ showcased in a solo exhibition in Australia, she delved into her personal journey as a migrant woman of colour, searching for a sense of belonging while encountering racism and bullying. Through the healing power of waterways, she embarked on an exploration of place through movement, taste, smell, pigments, vibration, and texture. This process led to a profound rediscovery of her identity within a decolonised body.

“Pilgrims of Place” represents the next chapter in her diasporic journey as she returns to her birth country, reclaiming the knowledge of its lands within a decolonised body. The exhibition explores the notion of belonging in a country she has been separated from for an extended period, emphasising recalibration, renewal, and regeneration. Her work comes forth from dreaming, praying and belonging. This body of work adds another layer to her work by learning and understanding on how to work with deities of the land through ritual and ceremonies and incorporating ritual drawings.

Anup Vega is a contemporary artist based in Nalanda, Sri Lanka. Anup has been working as a pilgrim of the landscape and uses movement as a way of allowing the work to flow.

For the past five years, living by the lake Nalanda has had an immense effect on Anup Vega’s Pilgrimage of Place through stillness.

Anup has been a mentor to Kuweni over a couple of years, initiated by the Queensland State Government in Australia. They both have mutual interest in the outer rivers in the landscape and the inner river, the consciousness are a strong influence in their work.

The exhibition’s aim is to inspire individuals to truly feel at home within their bodies and in the places they have migrated to and the country they have migrated from. It encourages diasporic communities to reconcile cultural boundaries, embrace hybridity, and foster transcultural flow.

Artist discussions and a workshop are scheduled in between the show dates and the exact dates will be notified later.