DAILY ARTRA'S ARTIST OF THE MONTH
From being inspired by writers Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton and artists, Sybil Wettasinghe and Isuri Dayaratne, Irushi Tennekoon opens up a world of characters and individuals of her own creation. Illustrator, Animator and English Lecturer, Irushi takes the title of Daily ARTRA’s Artist of the Month for October. Her distinct perspective and capacity to create a universe evokes a sense of childhood fantasy, transporting and awakening a rampant imagination into an alternate dimension. We find the works of Irushi Tennekoon significant as it bridges the gap between fantasy and reality through the communication of real-world issues to society while expressing implicit emotion in the shades of cut-out pieces and colours.
Irushi’s works explore significant themes. In her collection of Sri Lankan masks, made of plasticine, she brings to light the cultural nuances of traditional dancing families. This process of art making for this collection began when she studied about the significance of Sri Lankan masks and rituals. She then played around with clay and began mixing colours together. Thereafter, she pieced them together, layer by layer – face first, then the eye blobs and mouth, followed by eyeballs and teeth. She has also used paper and coconut husks as mediums to craft other parts of the body. Each mask serves as reference telling a story of its own, significant to the varied traditions and cultures. Also, Irushi experimented with strands of jute, which we found to be novel in ‘Rescue Mission’. The latter Is a Tamil language picture book that she illustrated for Room to Read in 2018 – a leading non-profit organization focused on facilitating girls’ education and children’s literacy in Asia and Africa.
Irushi’s collection The Jungle Orchestra, was yet another attempt at exploring Sri Lanka’s wildlife and traditional musical instruments. They are characters she drew for a picture book she’s yet to complete. “The story is about a group of humans who want to cut down the forest. The animals decide that the best way to get rid of them is to form a band and create a loud noise, which would scare them away. Each of them pick up a traditional instrument and play as loud as they can”.
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