Kala Pola 2018 – celebrating 25 years of art!

By Maheshi Wimalagoonaratne

I was never interested in “Art” but when I saw the flyer asking for volunteers for Kala Pola a few years ago, I decided to volunteer without even knowing anything about the event. From that day onwards, I have been volunteering for Kala Pola for the past 5 consecutive years!

Kala Pola is an annual open-air art exhibition organized by John Keells Foundation together with The George Keyt Foundation. Each year it attracts hundreds of artists and sculptors from all parts of the country and gives them the rare opportunity to display their work to a large number of buyers. This year Kala Pola celebrated its 25th anniversary with creations of 358 artists! It is truly amazing to see how each year Kala Pola has grown to include more artists and attract more visitors.

Each year I have signed up for various duties which gave me the opportunity to interact with my fellow colleagues across the Group and to be a part of Kala Pola . I have been a volunteer at the kid’s art corner, assisted in getting feedback from artists, manned the help desk and assisted the artists to register online to the Sri Lanka art gallery website and the list goes on.

The online registrations to the Sri Lanka art gallery website – www.srilankanartgallery.com which is designed, maintained and hosted by John Keells Foundation enables Sri Lankan artists to showcase and market their work throughout the year to local and foreign buyers. Thus, giving them a truly amazing opportunity to showcase their work beyond Kala Pola. Also, the kids art corner is another interesting location to be, as you get to witness kids putting their creativity to work. They never fail to surprise us with their talent and the uniqueness of every piece of painting and sculpture.

Kala Pola is also a great place to hunt for that unique piece of art that would make a welcome addition to your home. I always come early for my volunteer duties so that I have enough time to walk through the street from stall to stall, talking to artists about their work and enjoying their paintings and sculptors. Every year it gets better, and I am proud to say that there truly is a lot of diverse talent.

Volunteering at Kala Pola not only gave me the opportunity to get along with people at JKH, but also to interact with other people and more than anything the friendships across the group eased most of my office work! All in all, Kala Pola is a much-awaited and not-to-be-missed event in Colombo’s annual cultural calendar and being a volunteer for the last five years has truly been very rewarding.

The efforts made by John Keells Foundation, The George Keyt Foundation, sponsors, everyone who takes part in the cultural shows, artists and last but not least the bunch of enthusiastic volunteers who put their heart & soul towards this initiative, makes this event more colourful every year and I am glad to be part of it! ?