The teardrop-shaped tropical paradise of Sri Lanka lies off the southern coast of India. Its natural beauty and calm has attracted travellers for hundreds of years, possibly beginning in the third century with the arrival of Tamil people from India. Arab traders referred to this island as ‘Serendib’, from where the word serendipity derives.
In spite of its beauty and attraction as an exotic destination, the country has had its share of problems, not least of which was the 26 year civil war between the Tamils and the Sinhalese which came to an end in 2009. The country has been at peace since this time. The Tamils remain as a minority, living in the north and east of the country. Gap Art works in Galle, a town of historical importance in the south-west corner, where the majority group are the Sinhalese. It has been a centre of Buddhism for many centuries.
The Portuguese established Fort Galle in the 15th century and were overthrown by the Dutch 100 years later. The British arrived in the 18th century and the town became a World Heritage site in 1988. It is now a wonderful mix of narrow streets, traditional stores, ancient ramparts, bullock carts, children in modern school uniforms and state-of-the-art designer outlets. It is also something of a centre for yoga, meditation, the arts and jewellery making. Galle cricket stadium, fringed on two sides by the Indian Ocean, is considered to be one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world.
Much of Galle was damaged by the 2004 tsunami disaster in which several thousand people were killed. This was the third biggest earthquake ever recorded. One of the few surviving artefacts is the reclining Buddha that lay in the wake of the massive wave. To the joy of the Buddhist population it was not damaged by it. Although the town has recovered the aftermath is still apparent, particularly reflected by children who were traumatised by the incident. Our art project works with these people.
“The 2004 tsunami was triggered by a massive earthquake and caused the worst disaster ever recorded in Sri Lanka history. In addition to the human impacts, the tsunami had widespread effects on Sri Lanka’s environment and ecosystems.
I was struck by the stories of the survivors and deeply moved by their efforts to rebuild. In the years since I have been endlessly amazed by the Sri Lankans’ ability to overcome difficulties. Homes and schools have been rebuilt and it is these projects than have now requested the input of artists. The joy, the pleasures and the therapy of art is widely acknowledged. We believe that our project will be a catalyst for future work and local artists to continue after our departure.”
James Chapman. Co-Founder and Trustee, Gap Art.
July and August are prohibitively hot and coincide with the monsoon rains. These last for an hour or so each day and have normally finished by September. The ideal time to participate in the project would be between October and May, for a minimum of two weeks.
To apply, simply complete the application form or contact us.