Kala Pola – An Art-Lover’s Paradise!

By Amie Peiris

I have always taken an interest in art. When I joined the John Keells Group I was given the opportunity to explore this interest. I have volunteered in many CSR activities throughout my journey in the Group and this year was the first time that I volunteered at a Kala Pola event. Kala Pola, the annual art exhibition organised by John Keells Foundation together with George Keyt Foundation is considered to be a looked forward event in the Sri Lankan Art calendar. As this event sponsors many artists across the country to showcase their paintings in Colombo, I knew that this meant a lot to them. I was wrong – this meant EVERYTHING to some of the artists who were unable to bring out their talents and abilities out in to the society due to various obstacles such as financial issues and inability to access a high end clientele. I volunteered under two projects, Kala Pola itself and Sri Lanka Art Gallery (SLAG) which is the online art gallery hosted by John Keells Foundation.

At the Kala Pola, I volunteered at the Kids’ Art Corner which was organised by the team at Elephant House. As a child, you tend to throw caution to the wind with everything, specially drawing! And it is this care-free attitude that children discover that maybe they do have a talent worth pursuing. Kala Pola gave the kids a brief chance to explore this. It was exciting to see so many kids putting their creativity to work, and the best part was witnessing how proud they were of their scribbles at the end. Not only the kids themselves but their parents were amazed to see what their kids could do with a piece of chalk and paint brushes! The kids were assisted by the teachers from Cora Abraham Art Institute and it was wonderful to see what these kids can come up with a little guidance.  Every drawing had its own uniqueness and they were all beautiful. I was very impressed and enjoyed the time spent with the kids. More than anything I was impressed to see the effort made by the students of the ‘The Dream’ – the Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy at the Kids’ Art Corner. Though they encountered many physical and mental disabilities they painted with a lot of passion and enthusiasm.

One of the best parts of the day for me was meeting the artists. As part of the SLAG team, I got to interview and speak to many artists and hear their stories. Some of the artists were senior and had a lot of experience not only in the field of art but also in life. Hence they looked at people differently – they looked at art differently.  These differences were depicted in the unique styles of paintings with ease. Some artists had art that came from pain and a troubled past, some painted as a hobby, some just because they loved it! But one thing that was common to all these artists was their natural raw talent.

Kala Pola gave us the opportunity to, not only meet these amazing people, but introduce them to the SLAG website which helps Sri Lankan artists get their art to the world. I can’t wait for the next one – next year! All in all, I believe the annual Kala Pola is a wonderful event full of colour and life and I was glad to be a part of it!